Sales Pipeline Guide
Introduction / Chapter 1 of 7
by Steli Efti, CEO
Last updated July 17, 2020
When you work in sales, it can sometimes feel like you’ve learned a secret language.
Gatekeeper, churn, MQL, AE, customer acquisition cost, B2B, unique selling proposition, net promoter score…
This is just some of the sales jargon thrown around the office on a daily basis, and while any outsider wouldn’t know an SME from an SMB, we’ve all learned the code and use these terms as if we learned them as infants.
Among this secret sales language are the terms sales pipeline and sales funnel. And while these terms may be used interchangeably at times, they refer to different things (looks like some of us need to brush up on our sales dictionary terms).
While both are closely related to your sales process, they each have a unique (and important) perspective and role.
That’s why in this chapter, we’re going to discuss these topics:
Let’s define both sales pipelines and sales funnels, and find out which one your business needs.
Now that we know what each term means, what are the key differences between sales pipelines and sales funnels?
Let’s discuss five aspects where these two terms differ:
|Sales Pipeline||Sales Funnel|
|Track and report||To track the right metrics for your sales pipeline, you can use information from your CRM and other sales analytics tools. Most CRMs like Close include pipeline reports that you and your team can analyze and interact with.||You’ll need multiple tools to track the metrics for a sales funnel, but most of the data will come from your website analytics and customer data.|
|Benefits||A pipeline helps reps have clear guidelines to gently push leads through the different stages and close more deals.||A funnel helps the sales team to see the sales process from the perspective of the customer. It creates a framework to focus on the customer’s needs.|
|Stages||The stages of a sales pipeline are built around the actions reps take during the sales process.||The stages of a sales funnel are bui lt around the stages that a lead passes through before converting.|
|Roles who use||Everyone on the sales team helps create, interact with, and analyze the sales pipeline. When using a sales pipeline CRM, your reps’ actions are recorded automatically and the pipeline is used by all to keep track of deals and move them forward.||Sales leaders use the sales funnel to understand where conversions are happening (or where they aren’t). Sales reps use the funnel to see the sales process from the customer’s perspective.|
|Where to create||The best place to create your sales pipeline is within your CRM, where your data lives. You can also export the data to a spreadsheet, if you prefer.||The data you need can be exported to a spreadsheet but should be constantly updated to reflect current conditions.|
Obviously, sales pipelines and sales funnels are two very different things. So, which one does your business need?
Both sales pipelines and sales funnels can be extremely useful: depending on your situation.
Let’s discuss situations when you would need a sales pipeline vs times when you need a sales funnel.
In summary, if you want to help your reps have a smooth selling process, reach their quota, and forecast better, you need a sales pipeline.
If you want to help your reps be more customer-focused and see how leads convert through the different stages of the buyer journey, you need a sales funnel report.
Congratulations: you’ve just become a bit more fluent in the secret sales language.
After comparing sales pipelines and sales funnels, you may have realized your business is under-utilizing one or both of these important tools.
Want to create a sales pipeline that can accelerate your sales and improve your business?
Next up, we’re going to discuss essential pipeline stages and how to implement them in your sales process.