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Specifically for small businesses interested in CRM and prospect management

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Simon Washbrook

Tips on building a Sales Pipeline

Pipelines are a fantastic way to formalise and visualise your sales process, so you away know where every single one of your prospects are, and you never miss an opportunity.  We have put together our top tips for creating an effective sales pipeline, that you will love using. 


To get started,  you need to map the actions you do when you are prospecting, into a practical process, which allows you to progress your prospects along their sales journey – don’t forget that this progression is not always forwards, sometimes they will pause, move backward or even jump multiple steps in the process. When this happens, it’s really important to respond accordingly, as trying to move them to a stage that they are not ready for, will often cause pushback and potentially the loss of an opportunity.


In this example, I am assuming that there is one person managing your sales process. If not, it can be quite easily be managed by creating multiple pipelines. But no matter how many of these there are, it will create everyone a really simple process to follow, to build a pipeline that works for you and your prospects. Getting started:


  • Create a column called ‘new prospects’
    • This is where you’ll put any inquiry that comes in, that way you never forget to follow your prospects up 
  • Add a follow up action (Call, Message, Email, etc…)
    • I’ll then assume that you make a few attempts to get hold of the prospect, via Calls, Emails, etc… Add in 3 columns I.e. ‘Call 1′, ‘Call 2′, etc…  This is is really useful to visualise how many attempts you’ve made, then when you’ve got to the end, you can then decide if they go back to the start or you drop them. 
  • Add an Objective (Meeting, Quote, Demo,etc..)
    • Add a column for when you achieve the objective, this may be a Meeting, Quote or Sale, but have a way of tracking when they get there.
  • Create a follow up action (Call, Message, Email, etc…)
    • Once you’ve completed the objective, you will want to follow up on this to get feedback on the or close the sale. Like before, you will make a few attempts to get hold of them, so Add 3 columns I.e. ‘Follow up 1′, ‘Follow up 2′, etc…
  • Add a closing objective  (Close, Meeting, deliver, etc…)
    • Add a column confirming when this happens

Of course, this is just a simple version of a pipeline, and you can add as many or as few steps to suit you, but it’s creating a process that you actually follow that matters. 

As a bonus tips, it works really well to create a separate pipeline with the months of the year in, that way if someone says ‘give me a call in September’, you can drop them in there, keeping the main pipeline clear from clutter, and this gives you a visualisation of what your future prospecting is looking like.


Just remember, this process can be as simple or as long as you like, just make sure it mirrors the actions you do in real life, when you go do this, the process will work for you and you will use it. 

These pipelines can be managed in any way you like, on a piece of paper, or a spreadsheet, but we recommend using a simple CRM (like popcorn – CRM is just £9pm), as this will allow you and your team to see everything that is going on with any contact in just one click, so everyone is always up to date. It will also allow you to nurture and track your prospects, giving you greater sales insights, which makes it 200% easier to sell to them. 

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