Ultimate Guide to Building a Successful B2B Sales Pipeline
August 1, 2023
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Sales pipelines are the secret weapons of successful sales and marketing teams in the B2B space. A sales pipeline provides a clear view of each prospect's status, their progress in the buyer's journey, and how close they are to making a purchase. This knowledge empowers sales efforts to address prospects' needs more effectively, while data-driven decisions by team leaders accelerate sales efficiency and secure a reliable revenue source.
According to the LeanData report, 4..8% of surveyed B2B marketers prioritize pipeline growth for their go-to-market organizations this year. However, building an optimal and scalable B2B sales pipeline can be challenging without a solid understanding of the buyer's cycle.
Within this extensive manual, we aim to examine what a sales pipeline is, its influence on the sales experience, and the actions essential to effectively construct your business-to-business sales pipeline.
What Is a Sales Pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a visual representation of the journey that every lead takes before becoming a customer. It provides a step-by-step structure guiding prospects and sales reps through the buying process in an organized manner. Additionally, sales pipelines offer an overview of a sales rep's account progress, the effectiveness of each sales stage, and how leads flow for the entire team. This enables sales managers to predict the number of deals expected to close in a specific time frame and devise strategies to maintain or boost team performance.
How Does a Sales Pipeline Differ from a Sales Funnel?
While a sales funnel focuses on leads, the sales pipeline is all about deals. From first contact to finalizing a purchase, the pipeline encompasses each phase of moving a sale along the process forward to completion. A sales funnel, on the other hand, revolves around lead generation and nurturing.
Considerations for Creating a Sales Pipeline
Before constructing an optimal sales pipeline, it's crucial to understand the current sales process's results. Some sales managers may try to boost numbers without addressing lead generation issues that may originate earlier in the buyer's journey.
To ensure prospects flow effortlessly through the pipeline, businesses should focus on the following foundational factors:
1. Define Revenue Objectives:
Establish clear revenue objectives as the most valuable indicators of success for marketing and sales teams.
2. Craft Buyer Personas:
Create buyer personas based on comprehensive analysis to better understand potential buyers and engage with them effectively at each sales stage.
3. Consolidate the Lead Nurturing Process:
Implement inbound marketing strategies to nurture prospects in the early stages of the buying process with relevant content.
4. Examine the Lead Conversion Protocol:
Continually test and refine outbound efforts, such as cold calling scripts and email templates, based on interaction results with prospects.
How to Build a Sales Pipeline: 8 Steps
To construct a powerful sales pipeline, follow these eight essential steps:
1. Know Your Product, Prospect, and Pitch:
Be familiar with your product, identify your target audience, and create a compelling sales pitch.
2. Work with the Right Tools:
Leveraging appropriate technology including Customer Relationship Management platforms and Customer Data Platforms proves indispensable for organizations looking to optimize processing of prospect and customer-related information in an effective manner.
3. Identify and Segment Prospective Buyers:
Implement account-based marketing strategies and develop ideal customer profiles to target specific high-value accounts.
4. Assign Sales Activities for Each Stage:
Define relevant actions for each sales stage to guide prospects through the buying process.
5. Define the Sales Cycle Length:
Establish a tactical and repeatable sales cycle to ensure a clear next step for each lead.
6. Determine the Pipeline Size:
Understand the optimal pipeline size for each sales representative to achieve quota targets effectively.
7. Remove Stagnant Deals:
Identify and let go of dead leads to focus on viable opportunities.
8. Track Sales Pipeline Metrics:
Utilize sales pipeline management tools to gain critical insights, automate operations, and track metrics.
How to Grow a Sales Pipeline
To foster healthy sales pipeline growth, consider the following actions:
1. Data Analysis:
Use sales data analytics to make data-driven decisions for sales strategies and automation.
2. Content Creation:
Leverage intent data to identify prospects' relevant interests and tailor content topics accordingly.
3. Omnichannel Integration:
Implement omnichannel marketing to provide a holistic B2B customer experience.
4. Link Building Actions:
Use link building techniques to improve search engine rankings and attract more sales opportunities.
5. Prospecting Planning:
Apply data segmentation techniques to develop solid target account lists and increase the probability of success.
6. Data Provider Partnership:
Partner with B2B data providers to access qualified contact databases for lead generation.
What Are Some Sales Pipeline Examples?
Sales pipeline templates simplify the daily activities of sales departments. Here are some examples listed below:
1. Kanban-style Pipeline:
Track each lead's progress with opportunity cards that can be moved through different stages.
2. Table-view Pipeline:
View all leads, opportunities, and data fields in table format for a comprehensive overview.
3. Multiple Pipelines:
Create separate pipelines for various units or lead types to monitor different sales processes.
Grow Your Sales Pipeline to Boost Profitability
Continuous improvement of the sales pipeline is crucial for B2B companies to thrive. Data analysis, content creation, omnichannel integration, link building actions, prospecting planning, and data provider partnerships are effective strategies to ensure healthy growth of the sales pipeline. By implementing and improving the sales pipeline, B2B sales teams can make data-driven decisions and achieve more profitable outcomes.