October 5, 2022 | Written by Steve Whittington

How Many Sales Pipelines Do You Need?

One sales pipeline, or two or three or four? Simplicity is elegance for a process, but true understanding occurs in the details. There is an argument that most organizations can keep their sales process for their products or services in one pipeline (there are some exceptions to this rule, as always.) What is meant by "one pipeline" is one consistent sales process, from which each salesperson can have their own pipeline.

In my experience, many pipelines start with the stage Expression of Interest or Seeking a Solution, and the requirement in that stage is a booked meeting. Having a booked meeting to get into your sales pipeline as an action is great because it meets three of the four components needed in a sales stage:

  1. Required: A step that you want all your reps to take in all sales engagements: (i.e. get a meeting booked)
  2. Factual: A step that is tied to an action. (i.e. meeting booked on the calendar)
  3. Inspectable: If it can not be recorded in your CRM, it didn't happen. (i.e. meeting is logged on contact in CRM)
  4. Buyer Centric: Defined from the buyer's point of view. For instance, the stage Expression of Interest as defined from the buyer's POV is Seeking a Solution.

So why does this all matter?

Inbound leads often result in a booked meeting entering your sales pipeline with one reach out. This speed of entering your funnel is due to your marketing. Your prospect has been strolling down the buyer's journey orchestrated by marketing for a while and has now decided to engage. Sales simply have to book a meeting (or the prospect has already done this themselves this off of your website or social). This ease is why inbound is so powerful.

However, it often takes more than inbound to fuel growth, and outbound generated leads are needed. The company is conducting all-bound pipeline generation activities.

When this is the case, what is the process to get a meeting booked, and how is this managed? Often it takes ten touches with a prospect to get a meeting booked. Email automation can help with the number of touches needed. But beyond automation, to get a prospect to engage, phone calls and multiple messaging dialogues can occur just to get the prospect to commit to a meeting. This pre-pipeline process is so often underestimated, under-managed and not understood by organizations.

The process of filling the revenue forecasting pipeline is why I believe certain organizations can benefit from two pipelines:

  • One pipeline to get the meeting
  • One pipeline to manage the qualified lead

The first pipeline is a critical process that needs to be managed and optimized. Depending on the organization, the first pipeline (or not having it) is the root cause of having or not having an overall predictable pipeline.

If you're looking for help setting up your inbound strategy to fill your pipeline, we offer digital marketing inbound services to manage your online reputation and digital advertising, all with clear reporting tied to return on investment.

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