How to Build a Sales Pipeline in 4 Basic Steps

build a sales pipeline

As a salesperson, it’s hard to focus beyond what might close this quarter. But building out your sales pipeline is a must to avoid that feeling of “starting from scratch” once the new quarter begins. Truth be told, the best sales reps are thinking a few quarters ahead (or even years ahead in businesses with longer sales cycles).

Here are the 4 basic steps you need to build your sales pipeline:

1. Assess the Current Situation

Getting started is always the hardest part, but here’s the good news: there’s a strong chance that you’ve already begun. You know the status of your accounts better than anyone, so to kick things off, take all of your known target accounts and bucket them into different categories (from the highest level of interaction to the lowest):

A – Spill-over deals from the previous quarter

B – Accounts with which you are in contact with meetings on the calendar

C – Accounts that you’ve initiated outreach to with minimal response

D – Accounts that you’ve initiated outreach to with no response

F – Known accounts with no outreach as of yet

2. Figure out What to Send and When

It’s time to put on your “marketing hat” for a moment. Reaching out to an account for the first time with a hard sell might not be the best move. When initiating a conversation with accounts that you’ve never contacted before, establish yourself as a trusted and consultative partner by providing value-adding content or research first. Then, as you build your relationship, you are in a better position to help solve problems or challenges that they share with you throughout these initial conversations.


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3. Put Your Plan into Action

Now that your accounts are mapped and you have a game plan for how you want to approach them, block off a few hours each week to send initial emails, do a round of follow-up calls, and get into an overall cadence. More often than not, salespeople leverage CRM software to effectively keep track of all of these interactions and progress target accounts through the various sales stages.

Don’t be discouraged if your target accounts aren’t accelerating through the stages at the pace you had hoped they would. Building your sales pipeline is a marathon, not a sprint. Reaching out to these potential clients on a regular basis will keep your company top of mind and ensure that you aren’t missing out on any potential opportunities.  

4. Don’t Forget about Lost Deals or Customers Who Have Churned

Even if you lose a deal or a customer, there is always an opportunity to win them back. Reach out to the account on a monthly basis (or whichever frequency you deem most appropriate) to see how the transition is going. A failed implementation or adoption is a perfect time to swoop in and let a potential client know that you’re there to help.

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