The reality is that 90% of new startups fail. Out of the remaining 10%, fewer than half will make it to year five. Lack of an organized, predictable, and scalable sales pipeline is often why.
Once you net your first client, scaling sales efforts may seem like an easy ride. You’ve put in your blood, sweat and efforts into pitching and selling your product, now’s the time to hire salespeople, set bold targets, and watch the money flow. But, as the saying goes, it’s easier said than done.
6minded, founded in 2013, is a Polish company on a mission to help fuel inbound marketing and sales processes. Here, they give the top tips to set up a sales pipeline to succeed. They’ll also be joining us in Barcelona at this year’s EU-Startups Summit – a great chance to chat in person with the experts!
Why does your startup need a structured sales pipeline to scale?
Selling seems like no big deal. Find the stakeholders, tell them what you offer, and ask if they want to buy. But the devil is in the detail, and on the road from that first ‘Hello’ to the final handshake, there are so many things that can go wrong, dozens of different sales techniques that may or may not work to get you that deal.
For example, do you aggressively chase customers on the phone, or do you tap into your customers’ FOMO? Do you address their pain points or appeal to their aspirations?
Now, imagine that you hire three sales reps, each of them using different sales techniques, tools, and tactics. How can you track and evaluate their progress and help them realize their potential if you have no structured, standardized path they all follow to seal the deal?
That’s what a scalable pipeline is for.
What is a sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline looks at the different steps in the sales process, from prospecting, through negotiation and making an offer to the purchase. It is brand-focused, showing the actions your sales and marketing teams need to take to move each prospect down the sales funnel.
It’s a popular rookie mistake to confuse pipeline with funnel. While the pipeline is horizontal and presents your company’s perspective (what stages your teams go through to secure a contract), the funnel is vertical and customer-oriented. It represents the number of prospects making it through each step of the buyer’s journey.
Sales pipelines are used by sales development, managers, and reps. For sales representatives, it’s a handy tool to organize their workflow, show the next steps, and automate certain tasks. In short, to make their work more efficient and save the time and effort that can be redirected elsewhere.
Managers, directors, and C-levels benefit from the pipeline by getting a detailed, instant view of their sales teams’ performance. Empowered with insights on the effectiveness of each sales specialist, these stakeholders can not only measure results easier and faster but also predict the outcomes more accurately and introduce corrective actions in time.
How can you build a sales pipeline that scales?
Whether you use a CRM or rely on Excel spreadsheets to track and monitor sales, a well-defined pipeline should be easy to comprehend, intuitive to follow, and possible to reuse repeatedly. The idea is that when a new salesperson joins your startup, you give them the tool, provide quick onboarding, and they can use it from day one to start adding, warming, and converting leads.
Building such a framework requires an in-depth knowledge of sales processes and tools. The task usually involves a trial and error approach, where you try to figure out the best way to push the leads down the flow, only to find out other tactics is more successful. And then the whole design starts again. (Mind you, this pipeline needs to be universal to serve all members of your sales team, too).
In short, creating an effective sales pipeline can be an uphill struggle, especially if you don’t have a broad experience in sales. But it’s so worth putting the effort in. Don’t panic! 6minded is on hand to help.
Your blueprint for growth
To set up your sales team for repeated success, you can use 6minded’s ready-to-use blueprint for growth. It’s a short sequence of well-laid-out steps that will lead your sales team (whether one or one hundred people-strong) through the entire buying process, helping them avoid common mistakes.
The blueprint will tell your sales team exactly what action to perform and who should perform it and show you where your money’s at any given moment. It will help you evaluate your sales team’s work and understand when to reward their efforts and achievements. With this tool, your sales personnel will enhance their work, taking control of all prospects at all stages without letting anything slip through the cracks.
Where can you get it?
Drop by the 6minded table at the EU-Startups Summit! They’ll hand you the blueprint and briefly guide you through all the steps. And if you use a CRM and wonder how it works with the pipeline, they will also be there to help as CRM implementation experts. Make sure to join us all there!