In a sales pipeline, there are multiple steps taken to get to the final sale. It’s important for sales reps to have an intimate understanding of their sales pipeline so that they can better connect with the lead. If a sales rep has a good understanding of what it takes to get from point A to point Z, then it will help them be better at closing a sale.

If you’re thinking it’s easy because you only have three steps in your pipeline, then you may need to take a deeper look. Many sales pipelines only consist of Lead –> Prospect –> Customer at a high level view; however, there are typically more steps that occur to get the lead all the way through to the sale. In this series, I’m going to “attach” us to a lead and walk through some of the stages, which will help to explain why there’s more to a sales pipeline than just the basic surface level stages. I will also explore why it is important for your sales team to have a good understanding of the steps in the sales pipeline and how it can help to increase sales. The first steps we will review are Lead Generation, Research/Fact Finding, and Initial Communication.

Lead Generation – Do you know where your leads come from? There are all kinds of places that your leads might be generated from, but I’m just going to focus on online lead generation. In today’s world, a lot of lead generation is being created online through campaigns, SEO, and social media. Knowing what’s going on in your company and what message you’re sending out is very important for sales reps to be on top of so that you are relaying the same message to the lead that your company is sending out. Many times it’s the message sent out through online marketing that brings the lead in, which means it’s important for you to know what that message is so that you can expand on it during a sales call. Knowing this information and being able to discuss the campaign that may have led the lead to your company may be an opportunity to help build rapport with the lead.Part1-AttachSelftoLead

Research/Fact Finding – Make sure to do

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your homework prior to making your initial call to the prospect. It’s important to get to know the company and the individual. Knowing a little bit about them and their company is a conversational tool to help you highlight some talking points on how your product/service will benefit their company. If you have a lead management tool, like VanillaSoft, that will provide the prospects LinkedIn profile embedded on the record screen and available prior to making the call, then that’s a great way to get to know the individual a little better. If you blindly, cold call the prospect without knowing anything about them or their company, it can create a dead end. Make them feel like their interest is worth your time. Also try to create a connection with them since people are more inclined to do business with people they like or know.

Initial Communication – Doing your homework, mentioned in the previous step, will help to make a difference in the initial communication process. The initial communication is the first impression a sales rep will make on the prospect in representation of your company. So, it’s important that expectations are set in regards to all steps of the sales pipeline. If a sales rep is expected to do some research prior to making the initial call, then it’s important for them to have a good understanding of that step in the process before they make the initial call.

These steps may seem basic, but there are a lot of sales teams that do not incorporate these steps in their sales pipeline. What does your sales pipeline consist of in its initial steps? Does your sales team have a clue about what’s expected of them? Clear understanding and direction can make the difference in how well your sales team is performing. Join me over the next couple of weeks as we “attach” ourselves to a lead and walk through some of the stages of a sales pipeline. Digging in deeper and having an intimate understanding of the sales pipeline can make a difference in your sales performance.

Kevin Thornton is EVP Sales & Marketing for VanillaSoft. Follow Kevin on LinkedIn and Google+

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