Businesses have been constantly evolving for the last twenty years and are starting to adopt a different approach to lead conversion. Unlike traditional outbound marketing, ‘soft sales approach’ involve several stages in the customer’s journey which lead to a sale or repeat business.
This process can be seen in a company’s sales pipeline. Sales pipeline can be viewed in different ways but the basic idea is the same: “How do I get my leads from point A to point B, and what does it take to get them there?”
Stages in a Sales Pipeline
Companies differ as to the exact number of stages in a sales pipeline. However, most companies will agree that six to seven stages hits the sweet spot. We’ll go through each stage and see how experts lead their prospects from one point to another.
Stage 1 — Generate High Quality Leads
Sales and marketing experts would often use the social media, invite people to a social event, or use an effective content marketing strategy to get as many potential customers as possible. Making the sale at this point is the least of their concerns. It’s more about getting people interested in what they have to offer.
Stage 2 — Educate Leads about the Benefits
What’s in it for them? Leads should be able to see clearly how a company or a specific product can help solve their ‘pain points’ through opt-in subscription to weekly posts or monthly newsletters. Email automation and autoresponders can help accomplish the task via drip emails.
Stage 3 — Get Feedback from Viewers and Subscribers
Being able to collect information from opt-in viewers and subscribers allows businesses to refocus their strategies and be able to address individual needs. Some CRM applications like Small Business Dream enable business owners to collect information from online subscribers and viewers using a survey engine, similar to Google Surveys offered in Google Analytics Solutions.
Stage 4 — Qualify Prospects
This stage will assess the possibility of converting leads to business opportunities, by weighing certain factors such as viewing activity (click and open rate), specific interests, occupation, income, and so on. The result will determine whether they would eventually turn into opportunities or if they needed more time in the previous stages (Stage 2 and 3).
Stage 5 — Assign Lead Scores
Each qualified prospect receives a lead score which indicates his level of interest. Investing more time and money on a qualified lead is considered profitable since the likelihood of conversion is very high. Those who received higher scores are given more priority while those at the lower end can be cycled back to Stage 2 or 3.
Stage 6 — Close the Deal
This stage provides the end-result of all the marketing efforts to win a potential customer. Some of the best-known practices at this stage include upselling and cross-selling. Others will include a ‘post-sale’ where customers are encouraged to patronize their product through follow-ups and having them sign up for loyalty or point cards.
Maintaining a Healthy Sales Pipeline
Maintaining a steady flow of leads, opportunities, and sales is critical in any business. If at any stage the sales pipeline gets bogged down and fail to meet their goals, the company could take a hit and seriously affect their bottom line. Some ways to keep the sales pipeline up and running include:
- Checking the conversion rates by stage
- Making constant improvements on every stage
- Closely monitoring the sales cycle
- Holding regular sales pipeline meetings
Running a business shouldn’t be too overwhelming with today’s modern CRM that can store, analyze, and keep businesses attuned to the customers’ needs.
At Small Business Dream, we give you the most up-to-date CRM software to keep track of your customers and provide you with the right information to stay in business.