Understanding your sales pipeline stages gives your business control of what future revenues you are able to accurately forecast. This helps sales reps report accurately as to the stage a prospect is really at. These sales pipeline stages can be presented is graph form.
A visual representation that will help you to track sales, visualize leads and organise follow-ups
It will give you useful information such as
- Why deals are won or lost
- Where the leads come from
- How leads translate to sales
Sales Pipeline Stages
There are a number of stages into which the pipeline can be broken down and these will vary dependent on your business and the types of projects you are quoting for. However for simplicity we have shown the pipeline in 5 stages:- Prospecting, Qualifying, Quoting, Closing and Winning. The pipeline is usually shown graphically as a funnel, as you go through the sales process so the funnel narrows depicting a lessening of the number of prospects remaining active.
As you will see from the diagram this is the first stage and depicted as the widest point of the pipeline funnel. These prospects could be coming from any number of activities, perhaps from a cold call list, exhibition attendees, advertisements or from your web site. By collecting this information you will start to understand which of the lead generation schemes are working for you.
It is also at this stage that time should be spent qualifying the prospects to ensure the sales team do not waste time chasing down leads which are not a good fit for your business. It maybe that the prospects budget falls short of your offering, perhaps the project is months down the line and does not require a lot of time spending on it right now. Also be honest with yourselves, if your business is lacking in available time or resources to successfully complete the project, then walk away now. For those that are a good fit then move them on to the qualified stage.
It is at this point where you start to learn more about the prospects requirements whether the discussions take place over the telephone or face to face by asking probing questions and by listening carefully to their response you will build an understanding of the prospects needs.
Having established the prospects requirements you can then start to build your case as having the ideal solution to match the prospects needs. The aim is to gain the trust of the prospect to the point where they agree to the next advancement, which dependent on the type of products or size of project may be a further meeting, a presentation, site survey or quotation.
If you have reached this point, where the prospect is asking for prices then the sales process advances to the next stage in the funnel.
You have reached the stage where you have got a good understanding of the prospects needs and against this backdrop you now have clear in your mind a solution which will meet these needs.
Provide the prospect with a structured pricing model clearly showing where applicable the individual elements which make up the total solution. The prospect does not want to be spending hours trying to work out how you have come to the total solutions cost. It will also help him when comparing with other quotes ensuring he is comparing “like for like” quotes.
It is imperative that you get your quote back to the prospect in a timely fashion and certainly if you committed a time when the quote would be back to him, make sure it is.
As well as pricing include any backup documentation, perhaps specification sheets relating to the solution you are offering.
Supply any documentation such as testimonials and case studies, these will emphasise your ability to supply the solution you are quoting.
Well all the hard work has been done, all you have to do is ask for the order but we understand that for some sales people this does not come easy, mainly due to the fear of rejection.
However if you have carried out the sales process in a logical fashion and answered all the prospects questions to their satisfaction the chances of getting a positive outcome are much higher, so go on, ask for the order.
Win or Lose
Having won the deal, ask the customer what the overriding factor was in them choosing your solution over the competition. Also remember this is a great time to ask if your new customer would be happy to provide you with testimonial and also if they can think of other business friends or colleagues who he would be happy to refer you to.
If you lose, don’t just drop your head and walk away, ask the client why you lost, remember if you know what went wrong you can learn from this and make improvements to your sales process which will enable you to win more business in the future.
For more information on how to follow-up leads from your new business activities – download our ebook Effective Follow-up Techniques by clicking the image below.