Best sales teams achieve their revenue goals, plan their work efficiently, and still get more time to optimize their existing processes. Do you know how? Because they have their sales pipeline set up and managed to be near perfect.
If you’re a part of a sales team, you know how challenging and important it is to hit your sales quota as an individual and a team. To plan your month or quarter to achieve your goals, it’s best to forecast how many deals you’d be able to close and the average deal value.
Knowing these details prior is a boon. And that’s a sales pipeline.
In this guide, you’ll learn – what is a sales pipeline, the best tips to set up an effective sales pipeline, and a list of tools you can select from for sales pipeline management. Let’s dive in.
A sales pipeline is a visual snap of where a prospect is in the sales process – a lead or a customer? There are numerous stages in a sales pipeline that goes from lead generation to post-sale. The stages are lead generation, lead nurturing, marketing qualified lead, sales accepted lead, sales qualified lead, closed deal, and post-sale.
With a sales pipeline, you how many deals salespeople are expected to close in a given week, month, or year and how close a rep is to reaching their sales quota.
Why is it important to maintain and monitor your sales pipeline?
The answer is straightforward – so you stay ahead and plan your sales team management, improve your sales process, better revenue forecasting, get an overview of your targets, and how many resources to allocate to achieve those goals.
If you can identify improvements within your pipeline that will help you move more prospects from one stage to another, then you’re going to be more successful in your job.
How to Build an Effective Sales Pipeline?
Here’s how you can get started to build an effective sales pipeline:
Understanding your target market is the first and foremost activity to indulge in for building your effective sales pipeline.
Next up, identifying the best accounts to target from your database and set up your sales cadences for them.
Segment your target accounts based on the location, type of account (based on interests in your product), if they’ve interacted with your company before, etc.
And lastly, a sales pipeline can be built and managed effectively with a combination of tips and tools we’re going to talk about beneath. So, read on.
5 Tips for Managing Your Sales Pipeline
Here are some best tips for managing an effective sales pipeline:
2. Allocate more resources and time on the best leads
If you know where your maximum revenue is coming from, a best practice is to make time and allocating your best resources to those leads.
3. Keep an eye on your key sales KPIs and metrics
You don’t want to miss out on the best leads and work in the dark. It’s a good practice to always track your Sales Pipeline KPIs and align your work accordingly. You can easily do so with the help of these free sales dashboard examples.
4. Set up a sales process
Planning done right is half the job done. Set up a sales process that everyone on the team follows and when you come across optimization tips on the go, make sure to update the process.
5. Use a robust and easy-to-use CRM
CRM saves a lot of time because it manages everything in one place and automates repetitive tasks.
Jessica Pingrey of FitSmallBusiness says, “When you’re working on multiple deals, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks if you don’t have a system to manage them.
A CRM helps organize each sales opportunity, track your conversations and phone calls, set reminders, and fosters transparency across your sales team.
There are many free and affordable CRM’s on the market, so there’s no reason not to use one–it simply makes your life easier and increases your chance of closing each deal.”
8 Best Tools & CRMs for Managing Your Sales Pipeline
“CRM is a must-have tool to manage your sales pipeline. This will help you understand where your leads are in the funnel.
Are they interested in your product? Are they responsive? Are they hesitating? Are they ready to purchase?
Those are the kinds of questions your CRM will help you answer so you can share the right kind of content with your leads. For instance, if a lead is cold and doesn’t know much about your product, there’s no need to talk about the costs, you should educate them and show them how to use your product instead”, says Jonathan Aufray of Digital Growth Hackers.
Let’s dig into the best sales pipeline management tools – their features and why users love them for managing their sales processes. According to our respondents, the best tools for managing a sales pipeline are as follows:
PRO TIP: How to Set SMART Goals for Your Sales Team’s Performance
To decide which goals meet the SMART criteria, sales managers need to look at sales analytics for their teams and monitor sales KPIs, for example:
Average Time to Close Deal
New Deals Amount
Number of Customers
Average Revenue per New Custome
Based on these metrics, and in light of other revenue-based and activity-based goals, you can identify and set desired goals for future performance, but how to get this information?
Now you can benefit from the experience of our sales experts, who have put together a great Databox template showing an overview of your sales team’s performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in sales reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
The below graphic also shows which tools are used the most by the sales experts we surveyed.
“Pipedrive is a deal-driven sales pipeline management tool for managing sales more effectively throughout the pipeline, staying focused on the right deals to keep selling.
It is full-featured helping you prioritize the most important deals, tracking performance, and predicting revenue. This way, you get the hot deals fed into your pipelines, have full control of your schedule tracking calls, emails, and contact history for each deal, and can eliminate repetitive tasks by automating them”, explains Ioanna Karelia of Be Your Maverick.
What makes Pipedrive stand out from the rest?
“For the past few years, my brand has grown exponentially, registering a sharp increase in sales. My team and I are always alert and updated on what’s happening with the sales process. However, sometimes the process becomes complex, and that’s when Pipedrive comes in handy”, says Matt Bowman of Thrive Internet Marketing Agency.
“The following are some of the aspects that have led to choosing Pipedrive over its counterparts:
The ability to monitor how many deals are active, and most importantly, show what stage each of these deals is in.
The ability to give detailed information for each open deal and telling you the deal(s) that need to be prioritized and having attention channeled to.
Adaptability and cost-effectiveness are the biggest wins. Unlike other CRMs, Pipedrive doesn’t need extensive staff training plus its plans are cost-effective”, adds Bowman.
Visual representation of sales funnel & customizations: “From demand generation all the way through to the onboarding/customer phase of the funnel, not only does Pipedrive provide a visual representation of the funnel, but it allows for customizable stages, deal probabilities, and provides a list of daily actions required for each prospect”, says Andrew Coelho of Monte & Coe.
Integrations: “The ability to integrate email providers like Gmail allows for email templates to be set up and delivered right in Pipedrive for efficient deal management”, adds Coelho.
Stephen Twomey of Kennected adds, “Pipedrive helps our other tools talk to each other through Zapier integration. It’s so important for our tech stacks to communicate, so we avoid redundancy in our data sets. Making sure we follow up with sales opportunities is essential to our revenue stream.
As Zig Ziegler once stated, “the fortune is in the followup.”
Activity-based sales method: “In sales, it is easy to become passive and reactive. You send a proposal or a quote and simply wait for the prospect to respond. Pipedrive as a sales tool encourages you to focus on your sales activity (i.e., “activity-based sales”).
There is almost always some kind of action you can take to increase the chances of a sale happening, and Pipedrive is a key tool to make this happen in my business”, says Bruce Harpham of SaaS Marketing Services.
Accurate data in one sales platform: “Laundry South uses Pipedrive to organize our sales pipeline. It’s a centralized place for the sales team to track deals, set reminders to follow up with customers, and analyze our performance over time.
Thanks to implementing this tool three months ago, we have accurate data on win-rate for the first time”, says Rina White of Laundry South Systems & Repair.
Who is Pipedrive best suitable for?
Al Davidson of Strategic Sales and Marketing says, “Pipedrive doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles like Salesforce offers. However, it’s fantastic for a small business with a smaller budget and allows them to visualize a snapshot of their sales pipeline.”
“Salesforce is the industry standard for sales pipeline management at this point, and for a good reason”, says Achintya of Elegance Tips.
Why do users love Salesforce?
360-degree view of sales insights: “There’s an overall view to provide broad insights, but also the ability to check in on every stage of the pipeline, the team managing it, and more.
Salesforce combines opportunity insights with pipeline management, so we’re able to directly see what we’re missing along our pipeline, how many opportunities we’re capitalizing on, and how we can improve,” says Achintya.
Cloud-based data management: “Salesforce operates on the cloud, and we don’t have to manage the data internally, but the user interface itself allows us to organize our target audiences in different categories, keep tabs on where they are in our sales process, and ultimately leads us to generate more revenue,” says Jack Choros of Iron Monk.
Who is Salesforce best suitable for?
While Salesforce is vast and huge in terms of the features it can provide for sales, marketing, and support teams, “Salesforce it is great for small, medium and large size enterprises”, says Choros.
3. HubSpot CRM
“Hubspot CRM allows you to create tasks for certain contacts to ensure that you don’t forget about any follow-up tasks. The deals pipeline also provides a visual way to see all the deals you are currently working on and any correspondence with any contacts related to that deal”, says Irene Lopez of Online Optimism.
“A sales pipeline management tool helped me to stay organized and ensure that no lead falls through the cracks”, adds Lopez.
Why do users love HubSpot CRM?
Easy-to-use: Who wouldn’t love an easy to use CRM that has all the necessary features and doesn’t overwhelm you?
“Overall, I find HubSpot easiest to use, and the price is right for us. It’s not as robust as some of the other tools on your list, but it provides us with the data we need. For example, it allowed us to see our sales pipeline was lagging in the early retention stage, and we created an email drip campaign to help fix that in response.”
Customizable sales pipeline management: “Hubspot streamlines all processes in the sales cycle, starting with the pipeline. It makes it incredibly simple to find your prospects, understand where they are in the pipeline, takes and receive notes, and reach out to them”, says Andrew Fey of Perfect Search Media.
Fahmy further adds, “ The most important aspect for me is the ability to set tasks and tailor them specifically to the individual contact. It almost holds my hand through the cycle and keeps me on track and moving forward in the whirlwind that sales and prospecting often is.”
Robust analytics: Data is at the heart of understanding how your sales are performing. Dan Bailey of WikiLawn adds their best feature from HubSpot. “The analytics are robust, even if they need to be interpreted by a trained analyst. HubSpot provides plenty of data for us to work with, and we’ve managed to increase our conversions in several key points using it.”
Notifications and alerts: Dean Moothart of LeadG2 explains why they love using the HubSpot Sales Pro.
“It helps in avoiding trying to “boil the ocean” when prospecting. It notifies me when my prospects open my emails, click on my content links, and visit my website. This allows me to focus my sales efforts on prospects who are already demonstrating an interest in learning about our solutions.”
Command center to manage tasks: “HubSpot CRM recently launched a new command center to manage tasks that are either “Due today”, “Overdue”, or “Most engaged”.
The HubSpot CRM also gives you insights into the number of activities you have performed within a given time period, the number of deals you are involved in, a feed of all the communication you have had with your prospects, and your schedule.
It centralizes all of your next steps and makes sure no lead slips through the cracks”, explains Thorstein Nordby of Nettly.
Zoho CRM is a part of the Zoho suite for businesses and helps sales teams manage their pipeline efficiently and close more deals.
Why do users love Zoho CRM?
Ease of use and setup: “Zoho CRM is the most convenient and efficient tool I have used so far. It has easy-to-setup features, customizations, and efficiently accommodates my business processes while I achieve the rest of my agenda”, explains Chelsea Hunt-Rivera of Honest Paws.
Sync between Sales and Marketing: Akash Makwana of Photocopiercompare says, “Our marketing team follows up with converted customers with an email sequence, this helps us attain feedback post-sale, which can help with repeat purchases and how we can modify our offering to fit our customers better.”
Nathan Sebastian of GoodFirms explains the multiple features of Zoho CRM that have helped them.
Multi-channel communication with prospects and customers:
“Zoho CRM allows us to reach customers across every channel, including email, social media, live chat, and telephone. It also gives us real-time notifications when those customers interact with our business.
After all, the sales pipeline is about engaging with customers, converting more leads, and growing businesses’ revenue. And that’s what Zoho CRM does for the companies of all sizes.”
Automate sales, marketing, and support:
“Zoho CRM also enables us to automate marketing, routine sales, and support functions. We are creating optimized workflows reducing manual data entry and eliminating redundancies, tracking the current stage of the deal, and closing more of them in less time.”
Interesting features Zoho CRM have to offer to sales teams:
“Zoho CRM offers several useful features, like sales force automation, lead management, and analytics. You can integrate the CRM with WhatsApp so that leads are instantly messaged”, says Kimberly Smith of Clarify Capital.
Who is Zoho CRM best suitable for?
Small to enterprise businesses. Why?
“It offers the same key features and complexity of more expensive platforms, at a much more affordable price point, which makes it a good fit for small businesses. The level of customization offered is especially helpful because we can address specific company needs and tailor the product to match and streamline our internal processes”, says Smith.
Outreach.io is a sales engagement and pipeline management platform that helps sales teams fil in their pipeline, close deals, and reach their targets.
What are the best features of Outreach.io?
Sales cadence for effective lead management
Efficient CRM platform with contact management
Email template management
Detailed email analytics for efficient campaign management
How do users use Outreach.io?
Kyle Vamvouris of Vouris says, “It allows us to map out a series or email, phone, and other activities to guide our sales team through the process. We use the analytics and reporting to see what is happening across all accounts and how each rep is performing against our KPIs.”
ActiveCampaign is integrated marketing automation and small business CRM software with powerful automation workflow features to help teams set up their entire customer lifecycle.
How do users use ActiveCampaign?
It helps in contact management, sending automated sales sequences and reminders to follow-up based on actions taken by the user.
Raul Mercado of Camping Helper says, “I am able to set up columns that allow me to mimic the sales process for our team. These contacts are automatically added to the pipeline anytime they opt-in to a sales call with our team. From there, we are able to drag and drop these contacts in the appropriate column like “1st follow-up” or “sold” for easy management.”
Apart from that, “I can also set reminders automatically sent to my email inbox when I need to follow up, and I can create notes that help me understand specific details about each prospect account”, adds Mercado.
SharpSpring is a cloud-based sales & marketing automation software that helps marketers drive more leads, sales teams to convert more leads, and optimize marketing ROI.
Why do users love SharpSpring?
Comprehensive features & customizable sales pipeline: “Sharpspring is a great tool for small businesses. It has a sales pipeline that provides us with a comprehensive set of features that allows us to easily facilitate, track, and oversee the various steps we use in securing sales”, suggests Paul Bies of Mystique Brand Communications.
Bies further adds, “Sharpspring allows us to customize our pipelines by ‘Opportunity Stages’. It also provides a visual representation of a sales flow, and it is our primary tool for managing and tracking our sales – allowing us to see exactly where a sales opportunity is in the pipeline at any given moment.”
Up-to-the-minute sales forecasting: “SharpSpring has completely revolutionized the sales funnel and lead the process for the sales force at LSEO. It’s a turn-key solution that allows the sales team and management team to work in tandem and enables up-to-the-minute forecasting metrics to align sales efforts better”, says Seth Skversky of LSEO.
Integrations & workflow automation: “From its easy to design email marketing tools, to its Zapier functionality, to tools allowing us to automate the process: SharpSpring opened the door for LSEO to take its next steps”, adds Skversky.
Built for Gmail Inbox, Mixmax helps you schedule & track emails, mail merge, and more features to enhance your productivity.
What can you do with Mixmax?
Because we’re focusing on how Mixmax can help in sales pipeline management, let’s look at the best features that sales teams can benefit from:
Track email opens, clicks, and downloads.
Schedule emails for better open rates & reply rate
Schedule meetings and plan events
Use from a wide set of templates
Use mail merge to personalize bulk emails.
Snooze and set reminders
Integrations with Salesforce, Slack, and more to share emails across apps
Why do users love Mixmax?
Schedule emails & setup personalized cadences:
Liston Witherill of Serve Don’t Sell says, “Mixmax is what we use for prospecting, for client communication, and to share emails with other people on my team. I love the feature that allows me to schedule email sends at a time that the recipient is most likely to open it – so useful.
It’s great for email personalization and sequences, too, for things like client onboarding, automated reminders, and quickly embedding media like GIFs or videos right into my emails”.
Who is this best suitable for?
With its wide range of features, it can be used by individuals, sales reps, marketers, and anyone who wishes to leverage their Gmail. So if you’re in sales who want to close more deals, a professional who wants to build a brand and boost credibility, or a marketer wanting to make outreach emails stand out, this tool is a good option.
Woah, we’ve come so far to understanding the essentials of sales pipeline management. We talked about why you need a sales pipeline and how you can effectively manage it by implementing a CRM. And to further help you, we interviewed our sales and business experts to present you with this list of the best sales pipeline management tools.
So, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t implemented a sales management and CRM tool, refer to our guide and do it right away.
Archita Sharma Archita helps B2B SaaS businesses with marketing (with a focus on content). She is happiest while helping founders unleash the power of content marketing and telling stories about her weekend artistic cafe visits!
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