Navigating the 5 Sales Pipeline Categories Like a Seasoned Sales Pro

Every salesperson has a different approach to the sale.

You’ll find that the stages of their sales process are very similar, even though there is diversity in each company.

Your pipeline is all the different stages of a sale. The goal of your sales process is to close in the final stage, but you might not have thought about it before.

In this article, well explain why it’s important to know and use a proven sales process. We will then give you an overview of the stages that your prospect moves through as they become closer and closer to buying.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:Ā 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. šŸ˜€

5 sales pipeline categories to keep your eye on

Here’s what you need to remember about the sales pipeline stages as you work on your team’s process.

  • Lead qualification is the process of figuring out if someone has a problem that your product can help with.
  • Scope: The current state is not good enough, but it could be better with your solution. There’s a gap in the market that you can fill.
  • I propose we collaborate and put together a presentation for consideration.
  • What are some things you can do to help ensure that they’re getting a fair deal?
  • I’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done.

Why is it important to understand the sales pipeline categories? I’ll explore that below.

Why the sales process matters

Identifying the sales pipeline categories can be difficult, but it’s worth taking time to do.

A Harvard Business Review study found that companies who have a formal sales process, in terms of staff training and efficient processes for closing deals, grow 18% faster than those without a formal structure.

To stay competitive, you need to know how your sales pipeline works. The best way is with a defined sales process that will inevitably boost revenue.

Not only that, but optimizing your sales process throughout the pipeline can also help you

The pipeline is an important part of understanding your sales pipeline categories, which you can use to make changes in the future.

  • The sales process is more efficient when there are less steps to take.
  • It’s important to be able to predict sales results (to some extent)
  • Identifying bottlenecks is important.
  • Know the pipeline

The six sales pipeline categories are prospecting, qualification, conversion rate optimization (CRO), lead management and nurturing, account-based marketing (ABM) and customer success.

1. Stages of a Lead qualification

This is where we decide if this opportunity should stay in the pipeline stages or be removed.

The discovery stage is important because it can lead to opportunities for your company.

Once you have a lead, it’s time to determine whether they are worth pursuing. You need to figure out if this is someone who can become either an SAL or SQL.

Tips for success

Finding prospects is the most important part of marketing, and it depends on a lot of different tactics.

  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Cold calls
  • Cold emails
  • Events

Youve identified a lead, but it’s too soon to tell if you’ll be able to make the sale. Keep in mind what we said about gathering data for each prospect so that when the time comes, you’re already prepared.

How to get the prospect in touch with a salesperson for more information about your product or service

Other times, you may not have any contact with the client at all before youve begun researching their company.

Its important not to let leads die in the sales deal stages. You can do this with the help of a sales engagement platform which helps you share key information, establish your company as an authority and prepare prospects for what’s coming.

Be persistent and professional when you contact your potential client. If they say no, don’t give up! They will remember who contacted them if it is the right time for their company.

2. Scope

Your goal in this stage of the pipeline phases is to determine whether or not your prospect will be a good fit for what you have to offer.

If the lead matches one or more of your buyer personas, youre in business. You need to do some research and figure out if there is a way for them to become customers.

Tips for success

When you’re in the discovery stage, it’s important to find leads that are qualified. When you get into the lead qualification stage, there is a higher chance of making connections.

If a salesperson is not qualified properly before going through the full process, they are more likely to lose their customer.

Yes, it feels good to move a prospect through the sales pipeline. However, if you dont qualify them properly before going into that stage of the sale then you’ll hit a wall eventually and waste time on prospects who will never buy from your company.

You could argue that the most important part of the lead qualification stage is to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for, as this will save time and money.

I think the next step in moving a prospect is to help them make their decision. I want my prospects to be able to see how our product will fit into their lives and what they’ll get out of it.

Once you have qualified a lead, the next step is to move on to the proposal stage.

Your proposal will provide more information on your products price. It is something every prospect wants to read, so it would be a good idea for you to contact them and let them know when they can expect this formal proposal.

3. Proposal

Now that youve qualified the prospect, it’s up to you to close the deal. You need a strategy.

The proposal process is different for each salesperson and company, so keep this in mind. For example, if youre selling a SaaS solution to prospects, it’s usually part of the presentation stage.

The following are the main points of this proposal: 1) The company will work with a better organization to help improve diversity in hiring. 2) We’ll also hire more diverse candidates, and we want them to be part of our team.

  • Specifics about your offering
  • Pricing structure
  • Your competitive advantages

Tips for success

You’ll always follow the same basic approach to proposals, but don’t be afraid of making it personal (and your demo) for each prospect.

  • A goal of mine is to make them feel like they’re the only prospect and not just another one.

Clarity is important when it comes to this phase. Your demo, proposal, and communication should be clear so that the prospect gets all of what they need to make a decision.

The proposal needs to be easy for everyone on the team to read.

The next stage in the buying process is convincing prospects to buy. To get them to this point, you need a clear understanding of what they are looking for and how your product can meet their needs.

Once you’ve submitted a proposal, all you can do is wait for the response.

I always ask potential clients when they’re going to make a decision, and try to get an idea of how long it’ll take them. This way I can keep following up without being too pushy or not enough.

In some cases, you want to be available and in others, you don’t. You need to feel out the situation with each prospect when it comes down to contact.

4. Negotiation

For many salespeople, the negotiation stage is where they are able to make their best deals.

In the perfect world, your proposal would check every box and they’d sign right away. But in reality, this doesn’t happen often.

Negotiation is often a back and forth process. Prepare for every possibility during the negotiation, because it might be hard to know what will happen in advance.

Tips for success

The first thing you should do is ask the prospect what they think about your proposal. This gives me a chance to find out if there are any things I could change and make it more appealing.

Sometimes your prospect might want to change the scope of work or level of service, and you need to be open-minded about that. You also dont want them to consider you as a sparring partner rather a business service provider who can help their success.

Negotiations are a two-way street. You have to be willing to compromise or you won’t get anywhere.

  • Make sure you’re always paying attention to what a prospect says during an interview. Article: I’ve been interviewing people with various levels of experience and education.
  • Manage expectations
  • Seek an equal partnership.

Negotiations can take a long time. It may be difficult to find the common ground, but as long as you have an active lead it’s possible.

What happens after a prospect is qualified?

Negotiating can be tough, but it’s the only way to get past this stage. You either succeed or they move on.

5. Closing

You’ve found the lead, made a proposal that works for them and you have negotiated an agreement. But before you get too excited, there are still some important steps to take.

Tips for success

Don’t take a prospect for granted just because you have an agreement from the negotiations. If you don’t see it through to completion, this could result in losing the sale at 24 hours.

Don’t wait. Share the contract as soon as possible so they don’t change their mind or consider a competitor.

If a prospect wants to make any changes, be receptive and take immediate action. Don’t hesitate or call for help from others in the legal department.

When you finally get a signed contract, the only thing left to do is celebrate.

Conclusion

Each sales pipeline categories are different, but following this order will help you make more sales.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:Ā 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. šŸ˜€
Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? Iā€™d love to hear from you!

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.