Understanding the Sales Pipeline

the lifecycle customer journey

The sales pipeline, also known as the lifecycle customer journey, or the customer lifecycle experience, is a user-focused marketing method that depicts the theoretical customer journey towards the ultimate purchase of a product or service. As such, it is an effective method for identifying the customer behavior and identifying the pre-existing requirements that motivate a buyer to take a specific action, such as purchasing a particular product or service at a specific point in time. Sales consultants can use the customer lifecycle experience to analyze the sales pipeline and identify what needs to be changed to make the process more efficient. This enables a consultant to suggest changes that will not only improve performance but also help improve profitability.

Identifying the lifecycle customer involves identifying prospects who are at a stage in their buying cycle where they are more likely to be interested in buying your product or service. The process typically begins with an interest-grabbing or ‘semi-pole’ ad that draws the prospect in and gets them talking with you. This initial sale can be the beginning of many profitable transactions as the prospect grows as the salesperson consistently convinces the buyer that he wants what you have to offer. Sales consultants often advocate bringing up the end-point of the sales pipeline, which is the point at which a sale is made. While this may seem like a contradiction, in most cases the potential revenue gained at this point is far greater than the revenue gained at any other point in the sales pipeline.

convert the prospect into a buyer

Once you’ve captured the attention of the prospect, you must be able to convert the prospect into a buyer and close a sale. Sales consultants often utilize CRM (customer relationship management) to help them achieve this goal. CRM is essentially a tool that allows a company to measure performance against specific criteria, which in this case is determining whether or not a prospect is becoming a buyer. While the tool has been found to be effective in many aspects of business, it does have limitations, one of which is defining the stage at which a prospect becomes a customer. As such, salespeople must utilize CRM to determine whether or not the benefits of a specific offer are worth pursuing and whether or not they should pursue it at the point of contact.

In order to close a sale, it’s essential that salespeople be able to identify the opportunities on the sales pipeline. When prospects are brought into the company, they are presented with opportunities, sometimes it may not be feasible to fully execute those opportunities. For example, if you were promoting an auto insurance online, you wouldn’t want to send prospects to a demonstration page or a demo. You would want to send prospects to a live forum, a support call, or an actual live person. Understanding this principle, a salesperson will utilize CRM to ensure that the best opportunities are actually on the sales pipeline.

the salesperson to make more informed

The final stage in the sales pipeline is the demo stage. At this point, the salesperson is attempting to convince the prospect that he or she wants the product, and would most definitely buy it. This is the “measurement” stage, and it’s during this stage that you can identify whether or not the prospect is actually interested in your offering. If the prospect doesn’t want the product or isn’t even interested, the sale is destined for failure. However, if the prospect is genuinely interested, then the pipeline is well established and the next step is to close the sale.

By utilizing the capabilities of CRM, salespeople are able to segment their prospecting efforts. They can also track the results of those efforts by utilizing sales forecasts. A strong sales forecast is essential to success, and understanding when it’s time to re-enter the testing stage, as well as knowing what to do after closing the sale, will help the salesperson to make more informed decisions regarding their sales pipeline and sales projections.

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