How to Manage a Sales Pipeline for a Startup

As a startup, having a well-running sales pipeline is vital to facilitate sales actions and help your team close deals faster. 

Read on to learn more about the importance of sales pipelines for your business and how to manage a sales pipeline for your startup.

What is a sales pipeline? A refresher definition

A sales pipeline is an organized series of stages and tasks that follow the buyer’s journey from lead to customer. It defines the actions that sales reps should take that are relevant to where the lead is in their journey to facilitate the sales process. 

Typical sales pipeline stages include prospecting, qualifying, building client relationships, and closing. 

Why is a sales pipeline important for a startup?

A good sales pipeline does wonders for the growth of companies of every size and in every industry. 

In the often chaotic world of startups, a sales pipeline is an anchor that helps your team stay on top of tasks to ensure you hit objectives and key results (OKRs).

A well-managed pipeline gives you a smoother lead-to-close process that everyone on the team can follow. It takes the guesswork out of sales team activity and gives them the confidence to take action in the sales process.

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5 best practices for managing a sales pipeline for a startup 

A great sales pipeline can help your startup business process go much smoother and take the guesswork out of sales actions. Here are some best practices for optimizing and managing your sales pipeline.

1. Prioritize your good leads, drop your bad leads

Leads are the people and companies that enter your pipeline and move their way through the buyer’s journey. 

Only a fraction of all the leads that go through your pipeline will close, and startups often don’t have the time and resources to follow up on every possible lead. 

So, instead of trying to win each and every lead – exhausting your sales team in the process – you can measure the quality of your leads and prioritize high-quality leads by using lead scoring.

Lead scoring is giving a score to leads every time they take specified actions or meet specified criteria. For example, scoring actions could include opening promotional emails frequently or having a specific number of employees at their company. 

With Nutshell, you can manually label leads as Hot Leads – leads most likely to close, or those that are more meaningful to you – and allow your sales team members to prioritize them too.

Nutshell hot leads feature for how to manage a sales pipeline for a startup article

The higher the lead score, the more likely that they will convert, so it’s best to prioritize these high-quality leads. 

On the other hand, leads that consistently score low (they’re not opening emails, answering calls, etc.) should be dropped from your list after some time. It’s best practice to clean your lead and contact list regularly.

Recognizing and eliminating unproductive leads is just as important as focusing on your best leads for pipeline efficiency.

2. Analyze your pipeline regularly

Whether you choose to do this on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, it’s essential to analyze your sales process and performance regularly. Important key metrics to check include:

  • Number of sales-qualified leads entering your pipeline
  • Average client acquisition cost
  • Number of closed deals
  • Average sales cycle length

Knowing the performance of your sales pipeline and sales team allows you to extract actionable insights. You can use these insights to make decisions on how to optimize your pipeline and process.

Using Nutshell CRM, you get actionable insights and real-time data on sales performance, team productivity, and lead volume. You can also check your conversion rates at each stage of your pipeline to identify where deals are getting stuck.

Nutshell funnel conversion rate screenshot for How to manage a sales pipeline for a startup article

All of this data is helpful when you’re looking to implement improvement strategies in your pipeline. 

3. Update your processes regularly

After you analyze your sales pipeline, you’ll have enough data to make changes to the process where necessary. It’s crucial to the health of your pipeline to update your stages and tasks often and regularly, especially as you scale your startup and introduce new features or products.

Your sales pipeline updates should also improve your process wherever you see significant dropoffs or time spent at certain stages. 

4. Standardize your sales pipeline

As your business grows to scale, so will your sales team. That’s why it’s important to keep everyone in the loop when it comes to the sales process. 

Putting the upfront effort and time into creating a standardized process – a universal set of stages and tasks for all sales – will help you develop consistent workflows, ensure uniformity in sales approaches, and help you monitor individual performance.

A standardized sales pipeline will also make the onboarding process for new sales team members easier.

5. Automate sale pipeline tasks with a CRM

Many of the aforementioned best practices can be made simpler with the help of great sales software, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software. 

CRMs help you manage your lead database, streamline your sales pipeline, and keep track of every new development in the same place. 

Nutshell was built with small businesses in mind. Our affordable, scalable, and robust CRM offers excellent features for startups at a fraction of the cost of other CRMs.

Create a scalable sales pipeline for your startup with Nutshell

Nutshell’s goal is simple: we help your business make more sales with contact and pipeline management software. 

With a simple-to-use CRM like Nutshell, you can streamline your startup sales process and reach your business growth goals faster.

Create your first customized sales pipeline with Nutshell today when you sign up for a 14-day free trial. Or contact our team today to learn more.

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