How to Create a Sales Pipeline for SMB That Consistently Closes and Wins Deals

best small business CRM

Clinching a sale is the ultimate goal of all business efforts.

Nevertheless, closing a sale starts with building a relationship with a complete stranger from scratch.

Hence to do so, primarily you must create a robust sales pipeline to progressively turn a fence-sitting skeptical prospect into a raving customer.

Although this is not at all an easy feat- nevertheless, it can be done.

Now if you put on some elbow-grease you can be sure that your sales pipeline will spit dollars like clockwork, as researches state that businesses that have an optimized sales pipeline attains 28 percent higher revenue growth than those that do not.

Therefore in this post let us explore six important and time tested steps to build a profitable sales pipeline using your CRM for small and medium businesses, and see how it is done rightly.

What is meant by the term sales pipeline and why do you require one?

Now sales pipeline is a structure and an easy way of tracking leads and potential customers as they move through the different stages in the buying process:

Hence having a sales pipeline in a CRM helps you to:

  • Easily track all your leads
  • Accurately predict revenue
  • Sell systematically
  • Create an integrated marketing strategy for business growth

In short, the sales pipeline in CRM helps you run a more profitable and efficient business.


Step #1

Build A Strong Foundation With These 3 Ps

Effective selling requires a good base. Therefore to sell and bring home the bacon you must know the:

The PRODUCT you are selling

The PERSON you are selling to

The PITCH you are using to sell

Now once you have mastered these fundamentals, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Step #2

Determine The Stages Of Your Sales Pipeline

I guess you would never ask someone to marry you on your very first date.

Yet it is unfortunate that most businesses love to bombard their new leads with sales pitches randomly.

Now, just like in a relationship, the sales process also moves through a series of phases which ultimately culminates into a sale.

These stages in the sales pipeline differ from business to business.
For example for a SaaS product (like the best small business CRM ) your sales pipeline could look like this:

  1. Research- Prepare for the sales process
  2. Prospect- Get to a connect
  3. Connect- Schedule the assessment
  4. Qualify- Determine worthiness for a demo
  5. Demo- Illustrate the value of your offering
  6. Objection handling and closing- Sign up a new customer

Now to come up with these stages in the sales pipeline in your CRM, think of the key milestones your prospective leads have to reach out on their way to become a paying customer.

Step #3:

Classify Your Prospects

Irrespective of whether you are using a robust enterprise-level CRM like Salesforce or any other Salesforce Alternative CRM used mostly by startups and small businesses, all of them offer lead segmentation functionalities so that you can segment your new leads at the beginning of your sales pipeline.
This is because if you are selling to all people interested in your offering, in the same way, you will never find good results predicting positive business growth.

Hence here are four most used ways of grouping the prospects in your easy to use CRM platform and store them in your CRM database:

Demographic segmentation

These are groups segmented by age, ethnicity, gender, education and income size.

Behavioral segmentation

These are groups segmented by buying patterns like purchase frequency, the different ways they use for buying, and brand loyalty.

Psychological segmentation

These are groups segmented by their attitude, interests, beliefs, values, lifestyle and other personal traits.

Geographic segmentation

These are groups segmented by where they reside (since people living in a certain area often have shared values and preferences).

Smart segmentation not only makes marketing more precise but it also makes the customer’s journey smoother with your brand.

Step# 4

Work Out Trigger Behaviors

Growing businesses that prosper do grow because they succeed in creating a steady stream of sales opportunities.

Now a sales opportunity is any lead that has been qualified applying a specific set of criteria and so is most likely to turn into a sale.

Well, there are many sales teams that try to boost sales by filling their pipelines with as many numbers of prospects as possible, which unfortunately results in a pathetically low lead-to-customer conversion rate.

Hence it is necessary that you must fill your sales pipeline with the right kind of leads for viewing improvement in your sales and business growth.

Therefore for each stage of the sales pipeline, monitor which behavior moves the leads to the next stage which eventually results in a sale.

Well over here we are talking about actions like:

  • Downloading a report
  • Requesting a demo
  • Watching a video (till the end)
  • Completing a Free Trial… and more

Once you have recognized these specific behaviors that illustrate that the lead is serious about your offer, link them to your revenue goals.

Additionally use this data to fine-tune your sales approach, by focusing on what actions your marketing and sales teams must take to encourage such behaviors, which include:

  • Sending more follow-up emails
  • Offering incentives for completing trials
  • Provide increased phone support
  • Tweak the copy of you free trial landing pages

Step# 5

Refine Your Sales Process

Now once you have come to know the trigger behaviors of your leads, it is time to create a sales process that is capable of bringing in more sales than you can dream of.

Here is how you can do it in three easy steps:

1. Evaluate your current sales process

To determine if your present sales strategies are working as desired ask yourself these following questions:

  • Which are the channels that generated the best leads that are more likely to buy?
  • How long does it take to close your sales and how can this time be reduced?
  • How many phone calls or emails are required before you get a yes?
  • Are you taking to the right people (since if your sales are consistently low, it might be you are not targeting the right people)?
  • At what stage in the pipeline are your leads falling off significantly?


2. Distill steps you took to close your most successful deals

There must be something that your brand is doing right otherwise it would not have been in business by now.

Hence take a look at your most successful deals and find out:

  • What thread ties them all?
  • What did you perform differently in each of these cases?
  • What are the order values of these successful deals?
  • How were there proposals phrased?
  • Who bought these offerings?


3. Inject new strategies using your pipeline data

Just in case you find that conversions improve as you go further down your sales pipeline, to boost conversion you can focus on changing your initial offer when prospective leads do get in touch for the primary time, or if you are offering your prospect a simple report to download, change your strategy and offer higher value contents like a free course, webinar or videos and see what happens.

This may result in more conversions right at the beginning of your sales pipeline.

Step# 6

Breathe Life Into Dead Leads

Not all prospects in your sales pipeline end up purchasing your offerings.

Now, are you going to throw them off?

No way- just bring them once more back to life.

For this dig into your CRM database and identify the stages these leads fell off. Find out the exact reasons why these leads lost their interest.

You can reach out to your lost prospects once you add a new feature to your offering which can regenerate their interest or move the conversation further.

You can also lure them back and regenerate their interest with the contents they want.

Hence this stage in the sales pipeline revolves around copywriting and creating great content so that you do not bury dead leads but find creative ways to regenerate them. 


Building an effective sales pipeline using a cutting-edge business growth technology is nevertheless a complex and time-consuming process. 

However, with the help of a good and easy to use CRM, a bit of patience, research, and tact, it is worthwhile to build a pipeline that can foster rapid business growth and make you live happily with your customers and make them return for more.

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