Sales Pipeline

There are many variations of the Sales Pipeline. These are the changes I believe are most important.

    1. Preparation
    2. Prospecting / Lead Generation / Suspect / Creating Awareness
    3. Prospect / Shows Interest / Lead Nurturing
    4. Lead Qualification / Creates Qualified Prospects / Does Needs Assessment / Uses Ideal Customer Profile fit
    5. Proposal / Opportunity / Consideration
    6. Offer made / Decision / Objection Handling
    7. Won-Lost / Commitment / New Customer / Sale / Close
    8. Existing Customer / Follow-ups / Account Based Marketing

The general idea is that each eventual customer that we earn goes through each of these stages usually.  I've also bolded the general activity being done in that stage.

A common and correct critic of this pipeline is that it's too seller-centric as opposed to buyer-centric. For a purely buyer-centric model, look to

  1. Awareness
    1. The buy identifies their needs and hopefully your brand.
      1. Focus on the buyer's pain points and not your feature set or brand.
    2. The buyer is also researching heavily in this stage.  E.g. Google searches, etc.
      1. Provide research support on your website and other avenues.
    3. Then they prioritize criteria
      1. Focus material on specific criteria to keep in consideration
  2. Consideration
    1. Research
      1. Second round with your brand in a shortlist.
        1. Focus on more decision support.  Narrow to industries, etc.
    2. Compare
      1. Your brand is compared to others in the shortlist
      2. At this point, the buyer has identified themselves, so tailer conversations
    3. Justify
      1. The buyer gets authorization from other stakeholders.
  3. Decision
    1. Select
      1. Final product service fit considerations.  Final trust considerations by the buyer
        1. Let the customer know why they can trust you'll deliver what you promised.
    2. Purchase
    3. Evangelize

As you may have noticed, the seller-centric model is a lot more actionable. But we probably should use them both in our sales planning.

Yet another perspective is one of content or decision support: explains...

  1. Awareness
    1. Whitepapers
    2. Short Posts
    3. Explainer Videos
    4. Contests
    5. Ebooks
  2. Consideration
    1. FAQs
    2. Datasheets
    3. Solution Comparisons
    4. Demos
    5. Newsletters
  3. Decision
    1. Live Demo
    2. Case Studies
    3. Coupons
    4. Testimonials

The above is a great list from on what content can be used at which stages of the buyer's journey.

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