Remember how hard it used to be to track all sales opportunities and their progress in the sales funnel?

Those were times when spreadsheets ruled, and monitoring every prospect was a cumbersome process. 

However, things have now changed for the better. Today, the market is replete with powerful sales pipeline management CRM software systems that have made lead management and conversion a breeze. 

Such systems provide a centralized platform where leads can be closely tracked right from the time they are acquired till they get converted and beyond. 

Let’s learn everything there is to know about sales pipeline management, the benefits it brings to the table, the CRM tools that can aid its implementation, and much more. 

What is Sales Pipeline Management in CRM?

Sales pipeline management involves managing incoming sales opportunities and tracking them throughout their journey until they are closed. In other words, it shows where prospects are in the sales process.

You can use sales pipelines to figure out how many deals are expected to be closed over the next week, month, or year and if your team is on track to meet their quota.

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As a business evolves, it can be challenging to track sales and follow-ups using spreadsheets. That’s why businesses looking to transition from the complicated system of spreadsheets should choose a CRM that has pipeline management capabilities.

 The good news is that it’s not so expensive to deploy CRM software. Many CRM solutions have affordable starter plans that you can consider to enjoy numerous benefits.  

What is the Importance of a Sales Pipeline? 

A visual sales pipeline helps you closely monitor your sales opportunities and how fast they convert. It gives a 360° view of all prospects and their stage in the sales cycle so you can analyze your efforts, identify roadblocks, and take appropriate action. 

Here are some of the striking benefits you can glean from a sales pipeline: 

  • A sales pipeline shows the exact stage of leads in the sales funnel, helping you keep a close track of how long it takes for them to convert. With this information, you can adjust your strategy and divert your efforts toward deals that need more attention. 
  • The pipeline gives you a grip on your weekly or monthly targets. With higher transparency around how many deals are closed and failed, you will know where you stand in terms of the targets. 
  • With a visual sales pipeline, you can easily monitor your sales team’s performance and take the necessary steps to amplify their sales efforts. This also makes your team more accountable, as they know their performance is being regularly checked. 
  • With your sales pipeline, you can forecast the future of the trajectory of your sales. By analyzing the number of prospects currently in the pipeline and their stages, you can make accurate forecasts of future sales and revenues.
  • A sales pipeline equips you with all the necessary data required to nurture leads and ultimately drive them to conversion. Based on your leads’ likes and dislikes, interests, and preferences, you can target personalized messages that strike the right chords. 

These benefits clearly show why it’s important for your business to deploy a sales pipeline management system. 

How to Build an Effective Sales Pipeline?

Building an effective pipeline gives you a complete view of your sales structure so you can craft strategies and make accurate sales forecasts. 

Here are a few simple steps to help you build a logical sales pipeline: 

1. Design your Sales Cycle

You have to determine how you want your sales process to go. From prospecting and pitching your product or services to closing the deal, you need to visualize the sales cycle. 

2. Determine your Ideal Target Accounts and Customers

Here, you will determine the people you’ll be offering your services to. You can use a spreadsheet or the sales pipeline management system in your CRM to gather their information. 

3. Add Sales Stages for all Prospects 

Now that you have all leads organized add their respective sales stages. This gives a transparent picture of where you are in terms of conversions and which areas you need to focus on.  

4. Keep Updating the Pipeline 

As prospects move through the sales funnel, the progress should reflect correctly in your pipeline too. You can also add custom stages to deals and ensure that the pipeline is well-tailored with the sales cycle. 

Sales Pipeline Management Best Practices

A sales pipeline system is crucial to the success of any business today. Even with rising awareness around the importance of a sales pipeline, many businesses still fail in its implementation. 

Here are some practical sales pipeline stages best practices that are easy to follow: 

1. Take Regular Follow-Ups

Buyers have many more choices today than they had some years back. That’s precisely why you need to adopt a proactive approach and contact them before they choose your competitor over you. 

The best way to do this is by taking regular follow-ups on your clients because nurtured leads make 47% more purchases than non-nurtured leads. You can set up a reminder for follow-ups and ensure that you never miss out on important deals. 

Regular follow-ups show that you really care about the prospects and genuinely want them to be a part of your business. 

2. Focus on Leads that Need the Most Attention 

Every time you look at your sales dashboard, you will be bombarded with leads, each one screaming for your attention. However, does each lead deserve your immediate efforts? 

Not necessarily. Let’s admit the fact that while some prospects show genuine interest, others are not inclined to be associated with your brand. It’s always better to channel your efforts in the right direction to get the results you want. 

Instead of spending time chasing deals you may not close, focus on those valuable opportunities that are most likely to convert. If you sort your dashboard using a high to a low option, you will identify your valuable leads most likely to be closed. This way, you can focus on opportunities that really matter. 

3. Closely Track your Sales Metrics 

Your sales pipeline is alive and breathing, constantly changing shape as prospects move through the funnel. 

But how do you track if your efforts are bringing optimal results? 

It’s simple. A sales pipeline management CRM allows you to track key performance metrics to analyze if your efforts are headed in the right direction. Some of the metrics that must be regularly tracked are: 

  • The average lifetime of an opportunity before it converts
  • The average size of the deals 
  • The average percentage of deals you have closed 
  • The number of deals in your pipeline
  • Win rate and loss rate, and many more. 

Staying on top of these metrics is incredibly important. With access to accurate data, you can analyze the health of your pipeline and make practical decisions to accelerate the sales process. 

4. Review your Sales Process Regularly 

Improve your sales technique as much as you can. The techniques that worked in the past may no longer work in the future. In a visual sales pipeline, you can easily spot bottlenecks existing in the current process and take timely action for performance improvement. 

Once you know the bottlenecks in each stage, you can perform different sales experiments to improve each part of your selling process and the overall pipeline sales management.

Look at the frequency of follow-ups at each stage for every lead. Is your team under-doing or over-doing it? Are these follow-ups impactful and helping in conversions? How many leads are reaching the conversion stage every month? 

A sales pipeline holds the answer to all such questions, so you can revamp your strategies for the best results. 

5. Update your Pipeline Regularly

A sales pipeline is never static. It keeps changing, depending on the leads and their changing stages. With such constant changes, a pipeline can look disorganized and chaotic. This makes it all the more challenging for your sales team to keep track of all deals. 

To avoid this, always ensure your pipeline is always up-to-date. Add notes for each lead, remove dead or low-value leads from the pipeline, and update recent communication with prospects. 

Doing these simple things right can significantly improve your pipeline sales management process. 

6. Shorten your Sales Cycle 

Why this is mentioned because the more time spent on a sales process, the bigger the chances of your leads changing their minds on the deal, try to keep your sales process short and sweet. If you notice that you’re not closing enough leads or your leads are going cold, then you need to check the length of your sales process.

The key to reducing sales process length isn't to spam your leads with 8-12 follow-ups a day, but to find ways to shorten it. You could reduce the amount of time between follow-ups or provide prospects with better information upfront to aid in their decision-making process.

A short sales process can significantly help to close deals faster. 

7. Deploy a CRM to Manage your Pipeline 

When you gather leads in your pipeline and start moving them through the sales cycle, even a minor mistake can affect the conversions. 

For your sales process to be utterly smooth and seamless, you will need a CRM system. As your business grows, leads will increase, and managing them will require additional support in the form of a CRM. 

Deploying a CRM is an excellent way to keep your pipeline in good shape and successfully take prospects down the conversion funnel. It gives a visual view of all your communication with prospects, where they stand in the sales funnel, and how quickly they convert. 

6 Best Tools and CRMs for Managing Your Sales Pipeline

The right CRM tool can be game-changing for your company’s sales. While it enhances your team’s efficiency, it also ensures that your sales graph is always on a positive trajectory. 

However, there are countless CRM tools on the market today that promise the best-in-class features and stellar performance. In that case, how do you decide which one is the right fit for you? 

Worry not, as we have got you covered. Here are the best 6 CRM tools, along with features, pros, cons, and pricing, to help you make the right choice. 

1. BigContacts

BigContacts is one of the easiest tools for managing a sales pipeline. Designed for small businesses, this CRM software can simplify your sales process by bringing all your contact information under one roof.

Its visual and intuitive sales pipeline can be customized by adding relevant stages and fields. You can also drag and drop contacts and place them right where they fit in the pipeline. 

Best For:

Customizing the pipeline and automating recurring tasks such as email drips, follow-ups, and reminders. 

Key Features

  • Custom sales pipeline
  • Built-in reports & analytics 
  • Powerful automation 
  • Team Calendar 
  • Mobile-friendly 

Pros

  • Automatically enrich contact profiles with information from social media platforms. 
  • Stay updated on all opportunities with instant alerts and notifications 

Cons

  • The tool needs a lead scoring system. 
  • Search features can be improved. 

Pricing Plan

Big – $5/user/month
Bigger – $15/user/month
Biggest – $25/user/month
Enterprise – Custom pricing 

2. Pipedrive

Pipedrive is another best sales CRM systems for small to large teams. This tool is designed to organize leads and give a general overview of all sales. It offers clarity on where your sales stand and puts you and your team on the same page.

Calls, emails, and sales progress can be automatically tracked from a single dashboard. The software integrates beautifully with your Google contacts, calendar, and other apps.

Best For:

 Pipedrive is best known for providing email marketing, sales, and lead generation add-ons with intuitive pipeline views.

Key Features

  • Automated workflows
  • Calendar and Email sync
  • Sales pipeline management
  • Custom reports
  • Meeting scheduler 

Pros

  • Workflow is deal-based, which brings more clarity to the sales process. 
  • Intuitive pipeline style

Cons

  • You can’t send emails in bulk.
  • The reporting system can be improved. 

Pricing Plan

Essential – $9.90/month
Advanced – $19.90/month
Professional – $39.90/month
Enterprise – $59.90/month

3. Freshworks

Freshworks CRM strikes a nice balance between an affordable solution for small businesses and a robust enterprise solution with many features. We rate this CRM platform as one of the best solutions because of its excellent customer support, easy-to-use interface, and powerful features on offer.

Best For:

Freshworks is best known for offering features for managing your sales rep teams. If you need powerful marketing and sales tools to boost your team's effectiveness, Freshworks will not disappoint. 

Key Features

  • Predictive lead scoring
  • Activity timeline
  • AI-powered sales insights 
  • Automated sales campaigns 
  • Insightful reports

Pros

Cons

  • Limited dashboard customization
  • No user forum for support 

Pricing Plan

Free – Free plan with limited features
Growth – $13/user/month
Pro – $36/user/month
Enterprise – $65/user/month

4. Salesmate

Salesmate is a web-based CRM solution that offers features for business acceleration, automation, and sales pipeline management processes.

It offers a simple and productive way to capture leads and organize pipelines. You can use it to keep track of all leads, monitor conversion, and make data-driven decisions based on smart reporting and sales forecasting.

Best For 

Salesmates are best known for delegating, assigning, and following up on leads through their lead tracking tool.

Key Features

  • Email and calendar sync
  • Activity automation
  • Custom reports
  • 700+ integrations
  • Built-in calling and texting

Pros

  • The solution is mobile-friendly and easy to operate
  • Excellent Customer Support

Cons

  • Reporting systems can be enhanced. 
  • No option to drop voicemails

Pricing Plan

Starter – $12/user/month
Growth – $24/user/month
Boost – $40/user/month
Enterprise – Custom pricing

5. HubSpot

HubSpot is a highly popular tool designed to eliminate the manual labor of managing and tracking leads. The tool helps you record calls, log emails, and manage data intuitively.

You can access an up-to-the-minute view of your entire sales process on a centralized dashboard and track leads through multiple filters. 

Best For: 

You can easily sync your CRM with Outlook and Gmail accounts. 

Key Features

  • Meeting scheduler
  • Activity Tracking
  • Alerts and notification
  • Insightful reports and analytics
  • Pipeline management 

Pros

  • It offers email templates to help you craft personalized emails with ease. 
  • Sales calls can be automatically logged into your CRM

Cons

  • Pricing can be complicated for users. 
  • There is a limit of 1000 custom fields. 

Pricing Plan

Starter plan –$45/month
Professional plan – $800/month
Enterprise plan – $3200/month

6. Snov.io

Snov.io is an all-in-one platform for sales automation and an absolutely free non-complex sales CRM, which helps you build your sales process from the beginning to the end, providing you with a clear overview of all sales stages, information about your prospects, all with full transparency to the whole sales team.

With little learning curve, you can organize your lead base. manage your sales pipeline, and focus on the right deals.

Best For: 

Snov.io is the best choice for those who want to have a single platform for organizing sales from scratch, from prospecting and outreach to sales closing.

Key Features:

  • Multiple pipelines management
  • Deal stage management
  • Unlimited teamwork
  • Deal and prospect notes
  • Automated data capture with a deal timeline
  • Lead tracking using tags
  • Integrated email service

Pros

  • You can build pipelines with up to 100 stage
  • You can easily create and manage sales pipelines by drag-and-dropping deals toward your goal
  • CRM is absolutely free

Cons

  • Analytics could be more in-depth.
  • There is no in-building calling service.

Pricing Plan

S plan – 39$/month
M plan – $99/month
L plan – $189/month
XL plan – $369/month
XXL plan – $738/month
CRM is free for each plan

Ready to Manage Your Sales Pipeline? 

Sales pipeline management in CRM does a good job of keeping track of the progress of your sales reps with their leads. You can know where your sales process system is failing and make necessary adjustments.

In addition to this, you can also make accurate sales forecasts and improve your conversions. 

For successful sales pipeline management, it’s critical to deploy the right CRM software that is easy to use and offers all the necessary features. Go through the list given above and compare the tools based on their features and pricing. 

This will help you zero in on a tool that boosts your sales process and keeps your business growing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Sales pipeline management in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a process of tracking and optimizing the stages that potential customers go through as they move from being leads to making a purchase. It involves organizing, analyzing, and managing interactions with leads and prospects to maximize sales opportunities.

The four essential stages of a typical sales pipeline are:

  • Prospecting: This is the stage where potential leads are identified and initial contact is made.
  • Qualification: Leads are assessed to determine their suitability and interest in the product or service.
  • Proposal and Presentation: Detailed proposals and presentations are made to prospects, addressing their specific needs.
  • Closing: The final stage is where the sale is completed, and the prospect becomes a customer.

Sales pipeline management is essential for:

  • Efficiency: It helps sales teams focus on high-potential leads.
  • Forecasting: Provides insights into future revenue and sales performance.
  • Accountability: Allows tracking of sales team performance and goal achievement.
  • Customer Relationship: Improves communication and engagement with prospects and clients.
  • Process Improvement: Identifies bottlenecks and areas for process optimization.

A 7-stage pipeline is a more detailed sales pipeline that breaks down the sales process into seven distinct stages. These stages can include lead generation, initial contact, needs assessment, solution presentation, negotiation, closing the deal, and post-sale follow-up. It offers a more granular view of the sales process, helping sales teams manage and track leads more effectively.