Sales pipeline and sales funnel, though they can sound the same they are two different things. Both of them describe the sales process through which the prospect goes through.
The main difference between a sales funnel and a sales pipeline is: A sales pipeline shows what a sales team does during the sales process, and a sales funnel measures conversion rates through the sales process.
How can you define a sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline is defined as a defined number of stages that a lead completes, as they make progress towards becoming a buying customer. The lead is moved towards the next stage when the previous pipeline stage is completed.
The form of a sales pipeline can vary based on the company’s requirements. Common stages in the sales pipeline are:
- Qualification: In this stage, salespeople ask questions to find out if the lead is the right fit for your future.
- Meeting: If the lead is qualified in the first stage, the salespeople and lead discuss their requirements over the call and answer any questions that the prospect may have.
- Proposal: The sales rep gives a quote explaining everything in the proposal.
- Closing: This is the last stage where the deal is finalized, and any remaining discussions are done, and the contract is signed.
Up till now, everything in the sales pipeline seems simple. But it’s important to note that:
- A sales pipeline looks the same but is not comparable to a sales process. A sales process is defined as the set of repeated activities that a sales team follows with every prospect to progress them into the sales process. These stages of the sales process are termed pipeline stages.
- Sometimes, the sales team uses the term “pipeline” as the monetary amount of the leads present in the pipeline rather than the sales stages. Because of that, it’s quite normal to hear about the pipeline value in terms of “pipeline meeting” or “pipeline is looking tough” in the sales field.
What does pipeline value mean?
The pipeline value is calculated by a pipeline report. It shows the money amount and value of all the leads in the sales pipeline.
A pipeline report lets a sales rep know the rank of every lead and understand if the deal is distributed properly to mean their sales goals.
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel focuses on conversion rates and the quantity of leads through your pipeline stages. It has a shape similar to the funnel, wide at the top as leads enter, then it gets narrow as the leads get disqualified or choose not to continue further.
A sales funnel report works on a system, meaning it can describe exactly what ratio of the leads decided to move forward in the sales funnel last quarter. Based on the report, the sales rep can figure out the number of sales based on the present prospect’s volume and determine what else can be done to improve the sales process.
What are the advantages of a sales pipeline?
The sales pipeline method works for all types of business as it covers all the parts of the sales process — from getting leads to signing up the contract to the after-sales process.
A research report by the Harvard Business Review mentioned that sales teams who follow the sales pipeline method properly saw an average growth of 5.3%, about a 15% higher rate of growth than other companies who didn’t use the sales pipeline properly.
In other words, a well-used sales pipeline has many advantages:
- Helps in providing an increased number of pipeline sales.
- You can easily forecast revenue growth and business results, and it becomes easy to use resources that support sales.
- Gives you an analysis of whether your sales strategy is working or not.
- Also, it provides you with an analysis of current fiscal and territorial progress.
- Provides you an insight into how you’re performing in terms of KPIs and targets.
To check your sales progress and keep the sales data up to date, you can use a watertight SPM (sales performance management) tool that can help you separate bad resources and unreliable data.
What are the advantages of a sales funnel?
The sales funnel gives you a clear picture of how many leads you need to meet your sales quota. The sales report created from the sales funnel lets you easily forecast sales numbers based on their current lead volume, and you can set accurate departmental targets and plan organizational growth.
Also, with a sales funnel, you can find ways to improve your sales process, identify weak points and train your sales team to hone their skills.