In the B2B world, it can be easy to get caught up in confusing terminology. Everyone — from marketers to salespeople — is guilty of not only using jargon, but also using these words interchangeably. It happens— but, to be the best in your industry and ensure you really know your stuff, you need to have a clear understanding of your processes and what they mean for your business. Take your sales pipeline and your sales funnel, for example. They sound similar, and they serve similar purposes — but they are very different things. Let’s explore what each of them is, what they do, and discover the differences to ensure we know exactly what we are talking about to secure the best results.
The sales pipeline definition
Let’s start with your sales pipeline. Think about your B2B leads as going on a journey, with every step they take leading them towards purchasing your product or service. Your sales pipeline is, essentially, a visual representation of this process. It enables teams to see where their prospects are, helps with sales forecasting, aligns teams, ensures more accurate follow-ups and reduces the time it takes to close sales. Typically, businesses will use a Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) to streamline their pipeline. For the most impactful results, effective organizational skills, accurate notes and sales pipeline management are crucial. But, how do businesses go about building a sales pipeline?
Mostly, the pipeline can be broken down into [five key stages]. This starts with prospecting or lead generation — where you must identify your key audience, generate interest in your business, and capture leads. Next, leads need to go through lead qualification before moving any further — this is the process of ensuring leads are likely to convert and gaining necessary information. Once leads are qualified, the prospects are in the consideration stage, where they are deciding whether or not your product is the right fit for them. This is all about personalized content, effective lead nurturing and executing the perfect sales pitch. Be sure to get it right! This way, they will move onto purchase — here, it is crucial that nothing stands in the way of the prospect and the sale. Once they have converted, customer retention is pivotal for maximum results, upselling and cross-selling, enhanced reputation and reduced churn rate.
The sales funnel definition
Visualize a funnel or an inverted pyramid — wider at the top than it is at the bottom. The B2B sales funnel — or revenue funnel — is the same. But, what exactly are sales funnels? Essentially, they help businesses discover their conversion rate at every stage of their sales process. How many of your website visitors convert to leads? How many of those leads become qualified? And, how many of your qualified leads go through to make a sale? The sales funnel stages are similar to those that make up the sales pipeline. The top of the funnel is considered the awareness stage. Your organization has been discovered — and once they have been contacted or share their details, they become a lead. The middle of the funnel sees prospects considering their options, with marketers and sales reps doing all they can to qualify and nurture their leads. Finally, the bottom of the funnel is where deals are won, purchases are made and customers move onto the retention stage.
Not everyone that comes across your business will be interested. Of those that are interested, only some will make an inquiry and, of those that do, even fewer will be qualified. Perhaps they won’t have the budget in place, are not the primary decision-maker, or do not have the resources in place to manage your product or service. Either way, the pool of prospects continues to shrink. Some will make a purchase — and, of those that make a purchase, an even smaller number will purchase again. Creating a sales funnel can help you identify where to make changes to improve your conversion rate — and, ultimately, secure more wins!
Lead Forensics is a B2B lead generation software, transforming sales funnels and supporting businesses at every stage of the pipeline. Utilizing a global leading database of business IP addresses, the tool works by tracking your business website and revealing the identity of your previously anonymous website visitors in real-time. Plus, users will be provided with detailed website visitor journeys and accurate contact details of key decision-makers. This way, marketers and salespeople have everything they need to create bespoke content, design the ultimate sales pitch and reach out to the right person at just the right time. And, with access to prospecting tool Lead Manager, users can send high-value prospects directly to their CRM for a seamless, streamlined process. Revolutionize your lead generation. Maximize your B2B website. Transform your sales process. Book your Lead Forensics demonstration today!