The 5 steps in the sales pipeline for B2B tech startups

The creation of sales pipeline and the stages contained within are going to change dependent on the business, what you’re selling, who you are selling to, and the complexity of the sale. However, it will boil down to five key steps to include in your pipeline if you are a B2B SaaS business.

It is all going to start with a robust CRM. The CRM market is a well-understood marketplace so there are many choices. This article is focused at startups, so we would recommend a business like HubSpot – they have an attractive startup package that is well worth the investment. As an aside, this is how purchasing should be viewed; an investment not a cost because your business will not be able to run effectively without it.

So, where to start. First, the sales pipeline needs to reflect your sales process, which is best defined once you understand in detail the process your prospective buyer is going through. What job are they trying to get done where your solution could be an option for them? What are the stages they go through from going from realising they have a pain to making a purchase decision? Consider Competing Against Luck and Job Theory for further reading.

Let us assume we have mapped our the buyer journey, we should keep our sales pipeline steps as simple as possible for the first iteration and then we can iterate:

  1. Prospecting (finding who could be a good fit)
  2. Qualifying (confirming whether they have the problems you solve)
  3. Quoting (sending the cost of solving their problem)
  4. Contracting (agreeing a financial transaction and a signature)
  5. Deal Won (receiving money for the provision for your product/service)

The naming of the stages is company dependent, but the above shows the steps required to convert a stranger into a customer in the simplest way possible. You should look into what metrics you want to track and keep an eye on those. Perhaps 10 in total, so two per stage otherwise it will be overload. Ensure you track the same 10, and don’t chop and change what you track because it will get very confusing.

For example, you could set the goal of x revenue, and then reverse engineer this goal into how many leads you need to generate per month, therefore how many qualified prospects, into how many quotes, into how many contracts. Not only will these adopt a mechanised approach to your sales engine, it will also help communicate “how to sell” when new reps join.

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