Sales Pipeline Guide
Introduction / Chapter 6 of 7
by Steli Efti, CEO
Last updated July 17, 2020
Your sales pipeline gives you the clearest view of your current sales situation and helps your reps build their process effectively.
But where should you build your sales pipeline?
There are many tools that you can use to build and maintain a sales pipeline, but one particular type of tool stands in a class of its own: a sales pipeline CRM.
What makes a CRM so special, and how will it help your team? More than that, how can you make sure that you’re using your sales pipeline CRM to the fullest?
In this chapter, we’re going to discuss:
A sales pipeline CRM is more than just a place to create your pipeline: This is where you’ll store your lead and customer information, gather data on what’s working and what isn’t, forecast your sales, and analyze your reps’ activity. It’s also the place your reps will go to keep prospect information updated, focus better on the tasks on hand, and simplify their workflow.
With a sales pipeline CRM, you’ll see at a glance what deals are currently on the table and exactly what action you need to take to bring them to the next stage in the sales process.
When your data is stored in a sales pipeline CRM, you never need to worry about sharing files back and forth or constantly asking for updates on prospects. Since your CRM records completed tasks and rep activity automatically, the information in your pipeline is updated in real-time.
That means no more wasted time updating spreadsheets and no more outdated pipelines. Just a smooth, updated workflow that everyone uses to sell faster and smarter.
Which sales pipeline CRM is right for your business?
Let’s face it: there’s no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a CRM. However, different CRMs have different strengths and weaknesses, and many are adapted to certain types of sales teams.
That’s why we’ve analyzed 5 different types of sales teams and discovered the best CRM for each one:
The goals and needs of a small business are very different from that of a multinational company. So, you’ll need a CRM that’s aligned with your small business: like Close.
This sales pipeline CRM is ideal for SMBs and startups for three main reasons:
Close also integrates with the tools that small businesses use every day, including MailChimp, Facebook, Slack, and more!
But here’s the best part: We’re also a startup, so we understand exactly what you’re going through as you try to build and scale your company. Not only are we a CRM that’s made for startups, but we’re also that friend who keeps pushing you to succeed.
💰 Cost: Between $35 and $145 per user, per month
⭐ Best feature: Close automatically logs all of the interactions you have with prospects and leads, including emails, SMS messages, and phone calls. That means your small sales team can stop wasting their time on data entry and start selling more.
If you’re a one-man-band with a limited (or nonexistent) budget, Bitrix24 is a great option. The main reason for this is that it has a free version you can use endlessly!
Even as a free tool, Bitrix24 is very robust. You have a customizable pipeline view that allows you to see and update current deals easily, as well as free email, calling, and invoicing capabilities. It also has a mobile app that you can use to sell on the go.
💰 Cost: Free, or between $19 and $159 per month for more comprehensive plans
⭐ Best feature: Bitrix24 allows you to customize your pipeline statuses, as well as your view of the pipeline: See all deals, deals with tasks due today, or deals with overdue tasks.
For large, multinational companies, one of the best options is Zendesk Sell. This extremely powerful tool is built to keep reps selling and helps smooth out communication so that your team can collaborate better and sell smarter.
With a fully customizable pipeline, adaptable integrations, and drag-and-drop reporting dashboards, Zendesk Sell is the perfect tool for large companies who want to build and manage complex pipelines.
(Note: For more robust features like activity reports, power dialing, and lead scoring, you’ll need the Enterprise plan, starting at $99 per user, per month.)
💰 Cost: Between $19 and $199 per user, per month
⭐ Best feature: Communication is the main feature of Zendesk Sell. With smooth communication and easy hand-offs that provide full context, Zendesk allows sales, marketing, and support to work together and sell better.
For teams who work in the field and not in the office, it’s essential to have a CRM that’s adapted to the field and works while your team is on the go. That’s why SPOTIO is a great sales pipeline CRM for field sales teams.
Not only does this CRM give you territory mapping options, but it also gives reps a clear view of their pipeline and next best actions right from an app on their phone. Sales managers can keep track of their reps with an activity feed, monitor where they are with location tracking, and communicate easily.
Meanwhile, field reps can easily update the status of leads on the go, pull up important documents to be signed digitally, and get accurate information on the best route to their next destination.
💰 Cost: Between $39 and $129 per user, per month
⭐ Best feature: As a dedicated field sales CRM, it’s no surprise that SPOTIO’s mobile app works wonders for reps on the go. It even includes an in-app chat feature so that managers in the office can communicate smoothly with reps in the field.
Arguably the most well-known CRMs on the market, Salesforce is a powerhouse tool that can do just about anything (for a price).
For enterprise companies looking to expand their sales tracking and pipeline abilities, Salesforce is definitely a good option. This software is a combination of pipeline and lead management, sales analytics, marketing automation, customer service features, and so much more. It offers visual workflows, intuitive AI capabilities, and adaptable modules for whatever you need.
That said, since Salesforce gives you so many options when it comes to purchasing, you’ll probably need to hire a consultant to help you decide what you need and what you don’t need. While it’s nice that you can customize your purchase plan to your exact needs, it can be a bit confusing when it comes to making a decision.
💰 Cost: Between $25 and $300 per user, per month for Sales Cloud. (Other modules such as analytics, enablement, marketing, or customer service have their own pricing.)
⭐ Best feature: For enterprise companies that have the budget to purchase all of Salesforce’s modules, this is the perfect connection between sales, marketing, customer service, and success. With fantastic automation for closing deals alongside a comprehensive view of customers across sales, service, and marketing, Salesforce truly is an enterprise company’s dream tool.
Now that we’ve discussed the best sales pipeline CRMs for different teams, you’re on the right track to picking a tool that will work best for your business.
But how can you get the most out of your CRM and effectively scale your business?
Want to optimize your pipeline for faster sales? You’ll need to get the fullest possible use out of your CRM.
Here are four ways to do just that:
Pipeline value is one of the main sales metrics you need to track. This will help you forecast more accurately and guide your team better.
By checking the value of the prospects in each stage in your pipeline, you’ll understand where you stand, what your current sales projections are, and how likely your team is to reach its goals.
In Close, you can see the value for each stage in your pipeline and choose between annualized, monthly, or one-time value, depending on your needs. These values are automatically updated as you move leads and prospects around in your pipeline.
One advantage of using a sales pipeline CRM is that you have special insights into the actions of your reps. To use your CRM to the fullest and optimize your pipeline, keep track of rep activity within your pipeline and use that information to better plan your sales tasks.
With Close’s customizable activity reports, you can check what reps are doing, how they’re accomplishing their tasks, and what actions they’re using to push leads through the pipeline faster.
You can also see time-based comparison reports that show you how reps performed in different quarters, and how their actions impacted sales.
A sales pipeline CRM gives you more in-depth information about your prospects at a glance. Managers can use this information to their advantage when planning and assigning tasks to their team, and reps can use this information to better prioritize their time between different prospects.
For example, Close’s opportunity reports give a clear view of important prospect information, including value and confidence level.
By using this data, you can get your priorities straight and focus on the deals that are most valuable and likely to close.
For better adoption of your sales pipeline CRM, your reps need to know how to use it. That’s why continual training is such an important part of getting the most out of your CRM.
Want to get a headstart on training? Check out our master list of the top CRM training resources you can start using today.
For example, when you first purchase a new CRM, make sure the whole team is involved in learning how to use it and setting it up. When reps are allowed to help customize the pipelines and build custom reports, they’ll be more motivated to use the CRM into the future.
Even once you’ve been using your CRM for a while, keep reps up-to-date on how it works. Get everyone involved in discovering new features, or reviewing how to accomplish certain tasks. By giving continuous CRM training, your team will be more effective at using your pipeline CRM.
To build a pipeline that is customized to your needs, full of relevant data, and easy to update, you’ll need the right pipeline CRM. When your pipeline is powered by a CRM that suits your business, you’ll see better adoption, clearer reporting, and reduced data entry.
Best of all, when you use your CRM right, your team will boost their sales productivity and pick up speed to hit their goals.
That said, it’s true that a sales pipeline can be built in other places, including spreadsheets and other apps.
To create an effective spreadsheet pipeline, you’ll need to use the right templates.
Check out chapter 7 of this guide to discover the best pipeline templates available right now.