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Sales | Feb 16
Maham S. Chappal on August 10, 2020 (last modified on August 7, 2020) • 21 minute read
Running a business is no easy feat. You face uncertainties and roadblocks at every corner. Which is why it’s essential to have a proper sales process in place. It helps you to know how many sales you’ll make every week\month\quarter so your business can grow to its full potential.
This is where a sales pipeline comes in.
It visually represents the journey complete strangers, who might be interested in your products\services, take to becoming your customers. It shows businesses where their qualified leads are in the sales funnel and identify leaks in the pipeline.
In this article we’re going to discuss the following topics and learn how you can grow your business by building an effective sales pipeline.
How many leads will end up as customers?
How do they move from top to the bottom of your sales funnel?
How many deals are your sales reps expected to close this month?
What is the value of those deals?
The best way to answer all these questions is by building a sales pipeline.
Building a sales pipeline is no rocket science. There’s a basic 5-step formula that can help you build an effective sales pipeline for your business:
Step 1: Identify your target audience
Step 2: Map out your sales funnel
Step 3: Calculate how many deals you need to meet your sales goals
Step 4: Move qualified leads through your sales funnel
Step 5: Win the deal and generate referrals
Editor’s Note: Want a full view of both the top and bottom of your funnel? HubSpot users can download this free template to get started.
Sale pipelines vary from business to business. Some are super simple while others are complex. It all depends on how complicated your product is and how many stages it needs to convert qualified leads into happy, satisfied customers.
However, all sales pipelines have the following four basic stages.
Generate new leads and get their contact information. The more information you get, the more detailed your customer persona can be, which will eventually help you close more deals successfully.
According to recent research, on average, sales managers make no more than 2 attempts to get a lead through cold calls. However, it takes an average of 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer. So don’t let lack of response hold you back.
Qualifying prospects can be challenging. More than 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process. But it’s also an essential stage of the sales pipeline.
Identify which leads are worth pursuing and interested in your offerings and which ones are not. Engage with your prospects through email and on call and figure out how likely they are to advance to the next sales stage.
Send your qualified leads a proposal with your offer. Outline all the main details; your offer, pricing, terms and conditions, etc. Lay it all out for them and show them how life-changing your solution is.
In 2007 it took 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8 attempts. So don’t forget to follow up (multiple times) with a prospect if they don’t get back.
At this point, your qualified leads will either become your customer or they’ll hold off their purchase for a reason. If it’s the former, do a little victory dance and ask for a referral. 91% of customers say they’d give referrals, while only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals. So don’t feel ashamed in asking for it. You’ve earned it.
If it’s the latter, find out the reason behind it and offer a solution. Even if it doesn’t work out now, you can always nurture this relationship for a future sale.
Editor’s Note: Want insights about deals and sales pipelines for tracking and growing your pipelines? HubSpot users can download this free template to get started.
You wake up at 8 am, make yourself a big cup of coffee, and open your laptop to see all the sales you made last night while sleeping.
You smile to yourself, shut your laptop, and get dressed for work.
Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
Your sales pipeline working on its own and filling up with sales month after month? And that too, all by itself.
As impossible as it sounds, it’s actually very much possible. Investing in a CRM and automating your sales pipeline can make your life easy and boost sales efficiency.
According to Automate.io‘s team sales teams on average save 5 hours every week by automating day-to-day tasks.
Jennifer Willy of Etia explains, “Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a very important part of running any business. Without it, there is a possibility that your relationship with your customers can be difficult to maintain and track. HubSpot CRM’s main aim is to make our lives easier.”
Blue Tree AI’s Sarah Franklin absolutely loves HubSpot and its ability to streamline their sales process and keep everything organized. Franklin says, “I like that I can keep everything in one place, sales, contact records and messages. It helps me to stay organized and makes continued and future communications more streamline when everything is in one spot.”
Eric Melillo of COFORGE stresses the importance of investing in a CRM and says, “the CRM is ‘must have’ and should be at the core of your sales pipeline.”
So how can you make the most of HubSpot?
30+ experts share their 11 best tips for managing your sales pipeline through HubSpot. Let’s dig into them:
In the age of personalization, segmenting your customers and grouping them into different constituencies is essential for businesses.
Mattress Next Day’s Martin Seely believes this to be their biggest tip to businesses planning on using HubSpot CRM to manage their sales pipeline.
Seeley says, “Target your right audience and segment your leads with HubSpot CRM. It automatically segments your sales so that you can view all your deals won and lost. Sort your deals by owner, amount, name, and or stage. You can also view all your scheduled appointments, contracts sent, and your sales team’s performance against the quotas set. Convert your website leads into customers by tracking companies that visited your site and following the users’ journeys.”
Jessica Crosby of Lone Fir Creative also recommends, “ensuring your database is properly segmented” as that, “will set you up for success in organizing the way deals move through the sales pipeline.”
Logan Adams of Marketing Digital Hour goes one step further and advises businesses to segment audiences based on date of last contact, businesses you haven spoken to within six to twelve months, and contact them. “By crafting filters in HubSpot CRM that segment out this group, in particular, you’ll be lightyears ahead of other organizations that are reaching out either too early or too late,” Adam says.
Joseph Stornelli, of JS Technology Group, agrees with Adams and adds, “From our contacts list, we can easily sort or filter by contacts that have not been touched within a certain amount of time – say 30 days. Once we’ve contacted these prospects, the system flags them with an updated contact date.”
“Automation and follow-up are the two magic ingredients to manage your HubSpot CRM sales pipeline effectively,” says Shannon Denton, of Total Girl Boss.
Automating sales follow-ups so that no good lead falls through the cracks can save you a lot of time and unnecessary headaches.
Soroni’s Appah Prince loves that they can do everything on autopilot. Prince goes on to say, “I use Hubspot sequences to automate follow up with leads in the pipeline, Sequences allow the integration of tasks, automated emails etc so I don’t have to remember to follow up.”
Lauren Morley of Techvera shares that automating their sales follow-up has saved them a lot of time manual work. Morley describes their process: “One way we use HubSpot to manage ours effectively is by using lead scoring, Lists, and Workflows to automate sales follow up needs.
When a new lead comes into our HubSpot CRM, they are scored based on our custom set ideal lead attributes. If their score goes above a 10, they are classified as a Marketing Qualified Lead, and put into a List for MQLs and SQLs. Our sales manager is then notified of a new qualified lead, and can set up his follow up appropriately.”
Sabrina Akselrod of One Desk also agrees, “You can automate a lot of your company’s processes just by thinking through what actions you want to kick off as your customers’ journey through your pipeline.”
Omniscient Digital’s David Khim believes that “Our HubSpot CRM helps us manage our sales pipeline by automating our workflows. When a prospect fills out a form for a consultation, they get an email confirming their consultation and two reminder emails of the upcoming meeting. Upon completing the form, HubSpot CRM automatically creates a deal with associated info and we get assigned a task to research the company ahead of time.
This saves us hours from manually entering data and setting up reminders each week. It also lets us trust that we won’t let opportunities fall through the cracks from forgetfulness.”
This begs the question though: how can you automate your workflow via HubSpot?
As Stephanie Riel, of RielDeal Marketing, explains, ‘By properly tagging your leads and contacts, you can utilize automation functionalities within HubSpot to nurture your leads with personalized marketing messaging across the sales lifecycle.’
Integrating a phone solution with HubSpot can truly help you nail personalized customer service.
Elena Volozva of Zadarma explains: “As a long-time CRM (and specifically HubSpot user) I know that having a phone solution connected to it makes a great difference. Knowing a client immediately when the call comes through and seeing all the notes makes an amazing impression.”
HubSpot’s email tracking feature is an excellent way to connect with prospects at the right time and know which leads to pursue.
Catalys’s Doug Fairbroether says, “Connecting with prospects by phone can be hit and miss, sometimes you’ll catch them in between meetings, other times they’re halfway through a sandwich.
The email tracking notifies us when a prospect has opened one of our emails. This means they’re looking at our content right at that moment, so I know that when I ring them, they’ll be free and I’ll be on their mind.”
“HubSpot CRM can customize sales stages to match with how your prospects move through the sales funnel and what goes into their buying decisions. Internally defining what needs to be accomplished in order for a customer to move into the next stage is an integral part of properly managing your sales pipeline with HubSpot CRM,” highlights Chintan Shah of KNB Communications.
Spencer Smith of IRC Solutions agrees, “HubSpot will automatically give you a default pipeline (e.g. appointment scheduled; qualified to buy; presentation scheduled; etc) but that default pipeline may not necessarily fit perfectly into how your company moves prospects through the pipeline. Customize it to your needs right away and it will serve your sales team significantly better (and more accurately) in the future.”
Catchworks Simon Ensor also believes that an essential part of a CRMs’ functionality is, “the ability to define various stages in your sales pipeline, often utilising a kanban board design” while HubSpot goes even further and offers the additional functionality to help manage a sales pipeline.
This functionality helps Ensor to gather data for their sales and delivery team. Ensor explains, “In order to understand the deliverables needed to hit targets, we use HubSpot to provide percentage conversion rates from one stage of the pipeline to another.
We then combine this with average time in each stage, broken down into products/services. This allows us to gain a clear picture of the quantity of prospects that we need at each stage to fulfill our goals. Coupling this data with the average deal lifecycle and we can forecast with relative accuracy the amount of revenue that will close within a specific time period.”
Creating a customized sales process also helps businesses during onboarding new sales team members. AdQuick’s Chris Gadek explains, “Use this CRM to create customized sales processes, including the length of time to continue to follow up on leads and when to move on to a new stream of leads.”
Rex Freiberger is a big fan of HubSpot’s functionality of customizing sales pipelines and uses it in the sales process at Gadget Review. Freiberger says, “I’ve never seen a more customizable CRM, and this includes the sales pipeline management aspects of it. I’m able to edit the pipeline from start to finish and change the stages of the process based on how our company and sales team functions.
I’ve set up a 5 stage process with HubSpot, each ‘stop’ on the process tailored to our method and goals. Then employees can simply move their prospects through this process in real-time, giving us an accurate reflection of where each potential deal is and which sales team members are bringing in the most business.”
Viewing sales activity for each lead is essential for businesses. It helps them focus on high-quality leads and weed out low-quality leads that are not working out. As Liam Barnes puts it, ‘Losing leads = Losing sales.’
Brandon Nutt, at All Time Power, says, “Knowing which stage the prospect is in is crucial because it allows you to take the appropriate actions to convert the prospect to an existing customer.”
Andrea Loubier at MailBird also believes that HubSpot helps them focus on their best, high quality leads.
Loubier advises, “Through research and knowing your ideal demographics, you can weed out the leads that you don’t want to spend too much time on, while you focus on those with the most promise.”
Nicholas Roberts at Global App Testing believes creating workflows that timestamp each move in the pipeline back to the contact helps massively in tracking your sales funnel. Roberts explains, “One example is determining how long a prospect stays in a specific stage and how long the sales cycle is. Once you can see these examples you can then diagnose the blockage in your funnel unlocking greater revenue and shorter sales cycles.”
BrandCave’s Holly Winters and Davide Garcia of Scout Logic both believe that HubSpot’s best feature is the tracking script. Winters says, “Without knowing what brought your visitors, you really can’t know how effective your marketing is. The data provided in HubSpot’s tracking software is remarkably helpful at bridging this marketing-to-sales data gap, allowing you to make smart decisions about your campaigns.”
Garcia adds, “By tracking our seller’s email, call, and meeting activity we can see a direct correlation to increased pipeline size.”
HubSpots’ Deals board is an excellent feature that helps businesses efficiently manage their entire sales pipeline. However, to take advantage of this feature, businesses need to customize Deals stages according to their sales funnel.
“Hubspot CRM is pre-loaded with deal stages but you can customize it according to your business’s internal process. Identifying deal stages helps to keep track of individual prospects. You get an idea of which company to chase and which one to nurture for potential collaborations.
You can easily forecast your business needs. Suppose you have a monthly target of $200k and if suppose each deal gives you $5K and you approximate conversion rate of 20%, you get an idea that you at least need 200 briefs to achieve your target.
In Hubspot, you can customize your own ‘Deals view’ as well. This gives fast and easy access to the deals you are working, and you can view them the way that makes the most sense to you,” explains Supriya Agnihotri, of Survey Sensum.
“I am able to customize the deals pipeline to have multiple pipelines for the different divisions of our business. I can also customize the swim lanes of the deals board so that matches my exact sales process.
When creating a deal I am able to have custom properties so that the vital information I need is attached to all my deals. From there it can give me an easy to use platform that I am able to manage my entire pipeline through.
I can also get a visual representation of where my pipeline is at and pull reports from this deals board for expected revenue, time spent in each swim lane and much more. Just by using this one feature of HubSpot, I am able to manage the entire process of my pipeline from prospecting to close,” Mahala Constantis of The Kingdom shares.
Corporate Filming’s Trevor Rappleye uses the Deals column to remind which deals are close to closing. Raapleye says, “It helps me to remember to follow up and keep them warm.”
Another tip Rappleye has for businesses new to HubSpot, “Use the sales quota meter, it can tell you how close you are to hitting your sales quota.”
Bob Sabra of Hovi opines HubSpot should be used correctly to reap all it’s benefits. Sabra highlights, “Deals are the only spot where leads should be managed. The customer lifecycle stage available on the contact level is not to be utilized to project sales and manage your pipe. It’s merely an indicator rather than a tool. The Deals pipeline, if set up correctly with the right stages, properties, and triggers, will help you immensely in managing your sales pipeline.”
And once you move a contact or company to a DEAL, make sure you save it to PIN notes on the top of the Deal with all the essential information.
Beth Kahn of Anura Solutions explains, “This way as you work your deal you don’t have to go through pages and pages of information to get the tidbits you need to close the deal; you will have them right at the top of the deal-making it easier and quicker for you to know what you need before reaching back out to the prospect.”
Before starting out with HubSpot, you need to map out their sales funnel to fully understand and track how their business is growing with their CRM. Jumping in a CRM without any solid plan or sales funnel can turn out to be a colossal waste of time.
Jessica Crosby of Lone Fir Creative explains, “Our clients utilize the CRM in combination with the sales pipeline in many ways.
I usually recommend that prior to building your sales pipeline, mapping out your funnel to gain an in-depth understanding of how your CRM is growing — in addition to ensuring your database is properly segmented. Having a pulse on the number of leads, MQLs, and MQLs that can be converted into SQLs, will set you up for success in organizing the ways deals move through the sales pipeline.
This method provides clearer reporting on your sales pipeline and overall greater confidence your CRM is clean and the contacts in your sales pipeline are transitioning smoothly in the marketing to sales handoff.”
Utilizing HubSpot’s Task feature is a great way to improve business efficiency and organizational performance.
Matt McKernan of Valley Network believes HubSpot’s Tasks feature has played a major role in improving work efficiency. “I use this as a means to remember to follow-up after a call (with an email if requested). Rather than send the email right away, I will add the follow-up as a task and continue with my calls. The system will remind me to send the email at the end of the day, rather than have to spend time during the ‘calling’ hours.
I also use the Task feature as a way to keep myself organized in general. Using it as a mini-project management tool. For example, I will put in a task for each mailer I need to send and then attach this task to the mailing list I am sending to,” says McKernan.
Nathan Bliss of Kinsta also insists that Tasks feature plays a major role in managing sales pipeline efficiently. Bliss explains, “Keeping track of deals, contacts, and emails can be tricky. Using tasks to prompt at key moments is critical to success. Perhaps adding a reminder to make that call when you say you will or to check engagement on that proposal you sent yesterday. Whatever is most valuable to your pipeline should have a task associated.”
HubSpot’s Lead Status feature is an excellent way to prioritize high-quality leads.
Romy Fuchs of BEE Inbound AG explains, “The basis for a good sales pipeline is the quality of the leads that are transferred from marketing to sales and their agreement on this (Marketing and Sales Alignment).
If we assume that everything fits here, then the SQLs need to be further qualified by the sales department so that they become customers via opportunities. As a sales rep, you don’t have time to waste.
Not every SQL automatically becomes an opportunity and therefore you simply need sub-stages for SQLs to prioritize who you reach out to and when. Therefore, HubSpot CRM offers a Lead Status in its properties by default. The default Lead Status options are:
But these can be adapted to your own needs.
Based on these statuses, the SQLs that really show a chance to become an opportunity can be processed more effectively and thus shorten the sales cycle.
We at BEE Inbound have been working with it for some time now and can see in our reports much more quickly where problems still exist – be it in the quality of the leads handed over or the productivity of the sales team.”
Ebbe Kjaersbo of Dimensional Community says, “We have been using Hubspot for a few years now and our tip that has made us successful is using the email integration tool that allows you to use templates and track response.”
Michael Oh of Tsp agrees, “Use the Gmail integration to make sure that your emails to/from prospects are captured automatically into deals, contact, and company records. That makes sure that anyone in your team can see correspondence with a prospect without having to ask you to go through your emails. If you don’t use Gmail, use the HubSpot BCC address to do the same with any mail platform.”
Tracking sales metrics can be complicated and frustrating. So if you’ve ever found yourself overwhelmed in trying to track your new deals and related sales pipeline metrics in the native tools like HubSpot, you can more easily track and visualize this data in Databox. For free.
Here are just some of the things you can learn about your HubSpot sales metrics with Databox visualizations:
Deals created is the total number of deals created in a specified date range. Tracking Deals Created is helpful as it tells you all the deals created within your specified dates at one glance.
Deals won by pipeline is the total number of deals closed; won during specified date range split by pipeline.
What does this metric do? It shows the average amount of time it takes to close a deal during a specified date range by pipeline.
This metric shows the number of meetings logged, overall, regardless of outcome, split by HubSpot Owner.
If you want to start tracking all of these metrics in Databox, you can do it for free. Just create your free account here and get started connecting and visualizing your data.
According to research by PipeDrive, “61% of people who use a CRM hit their annual sales target in 2019, compared to 52% who don’t use a CRM.”
Businesses who take their growth seriously and looking for ways to scale up invest time and effort in building a sales pipeline and use tools like HubSpot to automate it. If you’re thinking of building a sales pipeline, now’s the time to jump into it.
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