Sales Pipeline Stages For Sales Success
In this article, we’ll detail the sales pipeline stages that works perfectly for Sales Professionals and Business Owners in service based and consultative industries.
Learning, implementing and following a sales process is one of the most important things you can learn in sales.
A sales pipeline will give you consistency and will give you a simple to use framework to guide your potential clients towards the sale.
Read on to learn our sales pipeline stages, and how you can implement it into your sales strategy.
The Benefits Of Using Sales Pipeline Stages
The sales pipeline (also known as a sales formula or sales framework) is key to consistently succeeding in sales.
Some of the benefits of using sales pipeline stages outlined in this guide include:
- It creates a system; allowing you to close sales like a road map
- Certainty – for both you and your potential clients
- It allows you to control the process and conversation
By using the sales pipeline stages outlined in this guide, you’ll feel a lot more confident while talking to potential clients, because you’ll have a clear system in which to operate your sales conversations with.
Sales Pipeline Stages For Sales Success
Below is a detailed breakdown of the sales pipeline stages:
#1 – Prospecting
The first part of your sales pipeline stage, is finding out who your ideal prospects are, and then targeting them using prospecting strategies.
Prospecting can generally be two fold – inbound and outbound.
Inbound prospecting is putting together systems that drive traffic into your business.
Generally, it includes pay per click advertising, print media, SEO, and social media.
Outbound prospecting is proactively reaching out to your potential clients with social media, email, cold calling and networking events.
Related article: The Two Types Of Sales Prospecting
#2 – Building Rapport
The first part of any sales conversation, and next stage in your sales pipeline is building rapport with your potential clients.
Rapport us crucial if you wish to hold a consultative sales conversation with your potential clients.
It’s also important because people buy from people they like and trust.
By building rapport, you’ll be able to ask deep diving questions that can ultimately lead to a buying decision.
Related article: A Guide To Building Sales Rapport
#3 – Qualifying Your Potential Clients Early
The third of the sales pipeline stages, is qualifying your potential clients early in the consultation or discovery call.
A lot of Sales Professionals and Business Owners make the error of speaking with people they think are potential clients – but end up not being qualified to either afford their product or service or aren’t the decision maker.
Qualifying early saves you time, energy, and money.
The qualifying framework to add to your sales pipeline stages, is borrowed from an acronym called BANT.
Originally designed by IBM, it’s an easy to remember framework to remember what you need to ask to qualify your potential clients correctly.
BANT stands for:
- Time frame
Further reading: BANT In Sales – How Does It Work?
#4 – Pre-Framing The Conversation
The fourth part of your sales pipeline stages is what makes our sales process very different from the others out there.
We teach something called a pre-frame. This happens prior to your deep dive sales conversation.
The deep diving sales conversation you will have with your potential client, is called the frame.
You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, and ‘frame the conversation’ in a way which will ultimately lead to a decision being made – either proceeding with a sale or deciding you may not be the right fit for one another.
The pre-frame is the conversation you have prior to the frame; in this case, it is what’s discussed prior to going into your deep dive sales conversation.
During the pre-frame, you want to cover three important things:
- Ensure all decision makers are present
- Let them know that you’ll be asking a lot of questions, to work out whether you can in fact help and serve them and their needs
- Give them comfort that at the end of the conversation, it is more than OK to say no if they’re not interested. Also let them know that many people use the “I need to think about it” as a way of covering for no. By giving them comfort, they’ll be more transparent.
The reason the pre-frame is key, is for two reasons.
Firstly, you’re removing two core sales objections up front – the I need to think about it objection, and I need to speak to objection.
Secondly – you’re getting permission to ask deep diving questions, which is next of the sales pipeline stages.
Using a pre-frame will be a game changer for your business and overall sales process, because you’ll get to the underlying truth faster than using a traditional sales methodology.
Further reading: How To Use The Intent Statement For Sales Success
#5 – Questions: The Key To Successful Sales Pipeline Stages
The most important part of your sales pipeline stages, as well as your overall ability to close more sales, – is the art of asking the right questions – and then diving deeper when you actively listen to their responses.
Incorporating questions throughout your sales pipeline is critical to close sales consistently.
At The 5% Institute, we emphasise the importance of asking questions because we believe in using a consultative sales approach.
By asking the right questions – you’ll be able to help guide your potential client toward the sale and help them sell themselves on the need for a solution.
During your sales pipeline stages, we recommend asking the following question examples:
- Finding pain
- Learning about their ideal outcome
- How they make buying decisions
- Why they’re speaking with you
- How long they’ve had their issue
We’ve written numerous articles on questioning and question categories, and recommend you read them to learn more. Check out the linked articles below to find out how.
- Sales Probing Questions
- Open Ended Sales Questions
- 10 x Questions To Ask A Potential Client
- 5 x Closing Questions To Win More Sales
Furthermore; if you’d like to learn about helping people sell themselves using questions, then we recommend learning about tie-down sales techniques.
Tie-down sales techniques are questions you ask that get an ‘agreed’ response.
Also known as trial closes – tie-down sales techniques help your potential clients sell themselves prior to having to ask for the sale.
Further reading: Tie-Down Sales Techniques – Your Ultimate Guide
An important note: finding pain is one of the most important ingredients for your questions and sales pipeline stages.
This is because if you can’t find friction or any issues with their current situation – they won’t need to make a change.
The article below details how to do so effectively, without being pushy or breaking rapport.
Further reading: Pain Points & Sales – Your Ultimate Guide
#6 – Discussing Money
Discussing money is another important part of your sales pipeline stages, because you can use the discussion to build monetary value around what a solution for their problem and pain points will mean.
When you’re discussing money, you ultimately want to understand two important things:
- What is it costing them by having these issues? Learn the financial and personal impact of what the pain points mean.
- How much would they pay to fix it, and have a solution?
Discussing this here makes asking for the sale, and your closing questions a breeze.
#7 – Presenting
Once money has been clearly discussed, the next stage of the sales pipeline stages guide is presenting your solution.
Many Sales Professionals handle presenting incorrectly and do something we call ‘premature presentation’.
As per our article in Entrepreneur, premature presentation is when you present your product or service prior to understanding what they need solved and hope that something you say sticks and resonates.
This spray and pray method are outdated and won’t help your closing rate.
Instead – when you’re presenting your product or service, we recommend you do so by prescribing it to their pain points and demonstrate how each of their problems will be solved with specific features and benefits you have.
Using a prescription approach as a specialist would, will align you as a trusted adviser, rather than just another salesperson trying to make a quick sale.
#8 – Handling Objections & Asking For The Sale
Finally, the last stage of the sales pipeline stages guide is handling their areas of concern, and asking for the sale.
Instead – we recommend using a simple and easy to remember objections framework.
The framework is:
- Listen carefully
- Repeat back the objection, and ask them to expand
- Validate the area of concern
- Re-frame the concern
- Confirm you’re on the same page
To learn how to do this in detail, read the article here to find out how.
Once you’ve handled all their areas of concern, simply ask if they’d like you to help them achieve what they intend to have solved and have them sign any agreements you may have in place.
Final Thoughts On The Sales Pipeline Stages Guide
Sales pipeline stages are a great framework to use to close more sales, because it gives you consistency, as well as an easy to follow road map.
By following these sales pipeline stages, you’ll lead your potential clients on a journey and positive sales experience, rather than position yourself as just another salesperson or commodity.
The sales process is the most fundamental, and important thing to master in sales if you wish to close consistently.
If you’d like to learn about our sales process in more detail, you can join the 7 Day Sales Challenge for free here.
Want To Close Consistently?
If you want to learn the exact system to close more sales consistently, without having to spend an arm and leg on sales training – you may be interested in our online sales training course.
Click the link below to learn how The 5% Sales Blueprint will help you close sales on a consultative way.
Our Online Sales Training Course – The 5% Sales Blueprint