How to Manage the Stages of Sales Pipeline Effectively

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Ah, sales pipeline management, where navigating each stage is as unpredictable as juggling rubber chickens at a circus!

Picture this: you're in the spotlight, surrounded by eager onlookers, and the rubber chickens are your potential deals. Managing the stages of a sales pipeline is a delicate art – it's like trying to keep those chickens airborne while your boss, colleagues, and clients watch, secretly hoping for a spectacular chicken drop.

From the prospecting phase to after-sales support, we'll provide tips and tricks to help you survive the stages of a sales pipeline. It's not about turning chaos into a spectacle; it's more about avoiding a complete disaster.

Like an expert, you'll also learn how to build and manage typical sales pipeline stages. Our article is filled with insightful information ready to turn your sales pipeline into a robust tool that converts prospects into paying customers.

Let's get started!

What Is a Sales Pipeline?

A sales pipeline acts as the GPS for your sales expedition, visually guiding you from lead prospecting to the grand finale of deal-making. Imagine it as a sleek, bar-shaped pipe – not here to burst your bubble but to help you navigate the sales maze. CRM sales pipeline stages play the role of a backstage manager, ensuring everything runs like a well-oiled machine.

Sales reps, the puppet masters of this grand performance, gracefully pull prospects through the stages of a sales pipeline, navigating responses and interactions. Picture this: prospects shimmy down to the bottom of the sales funnel, where the spotlight reveals the deal's fate – either a victorious win or a humble defeat.

Here's a breakdown of the benefits the best sales pipeline stages offers:

  1. Upgrade the Sales Process Over Time: It's like giving your sales strategy a facelift. Evolve or dissolve!
  2. Calculate the Number of Leads: Quantify your success. Know exactly how many leads it takes to hit those lofty goals.
  3. Track Sales Staff Performance: Turn your team into sales superstars with insights into their performance. Lights, camera, action!
  4. Close Deals Promptly: The magic lies in timing. With a well-managed pipeline, you'll be sealing deals like a pro magician pulling rabbits out of a hat.

So, think of the sales pipeline as your Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass, unraveling the mysteries of each deal. Sales teams not utilizing these tools risk missing out on valuable insights and opportunities for improvement.

Stages of a Sales Pipeline

Stages of a Sales Pipeline

Sales can be a wild ride. It's like navigating a labyrinth, and guess what? Your stages of a sales pipeline are the pit stops on this road trip to the ultimate destination – sealing the deal with style.

Check out this table summarizing the key 5 stages of sales pipelines (plus a bonus stage.)





Identifying and assessing potential leads for their suitability.

Initiates the sales journey by selecting potential customers, laying the groundwork for subsequent stages.

Lead Qualification

Evaluating leads to determine their level of interest and potential as customers.

Streamlines focus on leads with higher conversion potential, optimizing resource allocation and improving efficiency.

Demo or Meeting

Initial discussions or product demonstrations to connect the sales representative and the prospect.

Fosters relationship-building, providing a platform for understanding customer needs and concerns.


Formal presentation of a solution to the prospect, outlining the offered product or service.

Communicates the value proposition, setting the stage for negotiation and decision-making.


The stage where the prospect makes the actual purchase, completing the transaction.

Culmination of the sales process, marking the successful conversion of a prospect into a customer.

After-Sales Support

Post-purchase assistance and support are provided to ensure customer satisfaction.

Ensures a positive customer experience, fostering loyalty and potentially leading to repeat business or referrals.

Now let's explore the sales pipeline stages examples closer while highlighting the importance of each one. Each stage demands more attention than a cat video on the internet and a strategy as customer-centric as your personalized playlist.


The prospecting stage unfolds like a thrilling treasure hunt in the sales saga. With market savvy and strategic acumen, sales mavericks dive into unknown territories, prospecting for potential gold mines.

In this vertical of uncertainty, each cold call and email sales pitch is a daring expedition, seeking to unearth prospects and turn them into glittering gems that could become valued clients.

Lead Qualification

As the dust settles from the prospecting frenzy, the spotlight shifts to lead qualification. This stage is the discerning jeweler's sanctum, where the raw potential is scrutinized with an expert eye.

Not all prospects are created equal; only the most promising diamonds can sparkle forward here. It's a delicate process of analysis and judgment, ensuring that the chosen leads possess the authenticity and brilliance to shine in the sales showcase.

Demo or Meeting

With a curated list of prospects, it's time for the grand spectacle—the demo or meeting. Think of it as the red carpet event where your product takes center stage.

Lights illuminate its features, cameras capture its essence, and action unfolds as your sales team delivers a performance par excellence. This is when the value proposition transforms into a vivid experience, captivating the audience and leaving them eager for more.


In sales, the proposal stage of the sales pipeline is a canvas for creativity and precision. Each word is a brushstroke, and every detail is a carefully chosen hue, crafting a masterpiece that resonates with the prospect's needs.

It's not just a document; it's an eloquent expression of how your solution competently addresses their challenges. A well-crafted proposal isn't just an offering; it's an invitation to a partnership steeped in efficacy.


The grand crescendo of this entire process arrives at the purchase stage of the sales pipeline. Contracts are signed, agreements are made, and value exchange becomes official. It's the moment your product transitions from an aspiration to a prized possession in the hands of a delighted customer.

The purchase is not just a transaction; it's the pinnacle of a journey where your solution becomes an integral part of their success story.

After-Sales Support

Beyond the curtain call, the sales performance extends into an everlasting encore with after-sales support. This phase guarantees customer satisfaction, ensuring that post-purchase experiences are as stellar as the initial encounter.

It's not just about closing deals; it's about nurturing relationships. After-sales support is the backstage magic that keeps clients engaged, fostering loyalty and turning one-time buyers into lifelong advocates.

How to Build a Sales Pipeline

How to Build a Sales Pipeline

A stellar sales pipeline isn't just a roadmap; it's the secret sauce to quota victories, avoiding pipeline drama, and foreseeing future tweaks. Combine this with lead or customer relationship management software, and your sales team is set for a success story that rivals blockbuster movies.

But hold the applause!

While a well-orchestrated pipeline is the star of the show, only dive headfirst into the choreography if you know your team's rhythm. You may think, "Which stage of the sales pipeline is where a company identifies potential customers?"

What works for others might be a misstep for you. So, how do you create a dance that your team can tango to?

Here are the steps to a pipeline tailored to your unique groove.

Identify Your Customers and Pipeline Stages

Venture on an odyssey into your customer's world. Dive deep into their psyche, understanding their:

  • Needs
  • Aspirations
  • Challenges

This customer-centric approach forms the bedrock for your sales pipeline. Imagine the stages of a sales pipeline as a journey, a series of junctions intricately designed to guide prospects from initial awareness to final conversion.

Identify each stage precisely, creating a roadmap that mirrors the customer's evolving relationship with your product or service.

Assign Prospects to Sales Reps

Consider your sales team as a coordinated unit, each member fulfilling a unique role. Align prospects strategically with sales reps based on their:

  • Strengths
  • Expertise
  • Individual selling styles

A great way to do this is with our sales software, Ringy. You can automatically assign leads to representatives based on predetermined criteria. It's akin to allocating instruments to musicians in an orchestra, ensuring the right rep is matched with the right prospect for personalized and effective interactions.

Determine the Length of Your Sales Cycle

Determine the Length of Your Sales Cycle

The efficiency of your sales pipeline is intricately tied to the dynamics of your sales cycle and the promptness with which your sales team finalizes deals.

The duration of a sales cycle is influenced by several factors, creating variability grounded in the following aspects:

  1. Product Complexity: The intricacy of your product plays a pivotal role in determining the length of your sales cycle. More convoluted products often extend the duration of the sales process. The complexity requires involvement from multiple individuals and teams to guide prospects through a comprehensive understanding of the product.
  2. Customization Requirements: Expect a prolonged deal duration if your product demands customization. Tailoring the product to meet specific customer requirements requires additional time and effort from your team, contributing to an extended sales cycle.
  3. Lead Source Strategies: The chosen approach to generating leads impacts the length of the sales cycle. Outbound sales techniques like cold calling and email marketing generally lead to longer sales cycles than companies relying on inbound leads. The source of leads directly influences the speed at which prospects move through the sales pipeline.

By strategically refining the delivery of your product, optimizing lead sources, and enhancing sales engagement strategies, you gain control over the average length of your sales cycle. This intentional approach allows your team to circumvent the sales process more efficiently, ensuring timely conversions and sustained pipeline momentum.

Determine the Ideal Size of Your Pipeline

Understanding the number of deals in your pipeline and establishing the optimal pipeline size is paramount for achieving sales targets and meeting team revenue goals.

A strategic approach to determine the ideal pipeline size involves working backward and considering various factors:

  1. Setting the Target: Identify the deals your team needs to close annually to reach the revenue target. Simply aiming for the target may not suffice, as deals can stagnate over time, with an estimated 24% of forecasted deals going inactive.
  2. Monthly Closure Requirements: Break the annual target into monthly goals. For instance, if your team needs to close 50 deals monthly to meet revenue targets, account that some pursued deals might stagnate over time.
  3. Adjusting for Inactivity: Recognize that a percentage of deals may go dark, and, as a precaution, your team should aim higher than the monthly target. If, for example, 10 to 12 deals out of every 50 become stagnant, it's prudent to pursue 70 deals monthly to ensure meeting revenue goals.
  4. Setting Individual Targets: Utilize this information to establish monthly or quarterly sales targets for each salesperson. This involves dividing the quarterly revenue target by the average deal size. This breakdown provides a clear roadmap for individual contributions to the team goals.

Working through this systematic process equips your team with a realistic understanding of the required pipeline size. This proactive approach ensures that your sales team not only reaches but surpasses revenue goals by accounting for potential challenges within the sales cycle.

Determine Metrics to Track

Stages of a sales pipeline serve as valuable visual tools for sales managers, effectively tracking and overseeing their sales team's activities.

Nevertheless, pipelines are dynamic entities, subject to constant change. Regularly monitoring specific sales metrics and KPIs becomes essential to gauge the ongoing health of your pipeline. This consistent tracking of the stages of a sales pipeline's metrics not only aids in understanding the current state of affairs but also enables you to pinpoint the number of deals required for your team to achieve set targets and generate profits throughout the year.

Sales Pipeline Management Tips

Sales Pipeline Management Tips

By presenting our favorite four best practice tips, we aim to revolutionize your approach to pipeline management. Beginning with basic sales techniques, this section delves into refining the entire pipeline management process, ultimately enhancing the overall success of your business.

Focus on the Best Leads

You may observe a consistent timeframe for closing each deal after scrutinizing your sales process. Rather than spreading your efforts evenly, prioritize your attention on the top-tier, sales-ready, high-value leads. Steer clear of distractions that won't significantly impact your progress or business objectives.

Consider rearranging your sales dashboard to prioritize leads based on value rather than chronological order. This strategic shift lets you promptly identify your business's most valuable leads. By assessing the engagement levels of each lead through your sales activities, you can pinpoint the ones that warrant focused attention and cultivation.

Remember to Follow Up

In today's expansive marketplace, buyers are confronted with an abundance of choices, requiring more assistance in making informed decisions about your product or service. The landscape has evolved significantly; a decade ago, closing a deal took just 3.68 sales calls, but today, it demands more than 8!

To excel in this environment, adept sales professionals understand the importance of persistent follow-ups to secure the sale. Surprisingly, many sales professionals throw in the towel after just two calls, but the most successful ones persevere.

Yet, in reality, following up poses a considerable challenge, currently ranking as the third biggest hurdle for sales teams. Overcoming this challenge demands strategic solutions. One approach is setting reminders to prompt follow-ups with prospects.

Alternatively, you can streamline the process further by incorporating sales email templates and automatically scheduling follow-ups for specific dates or intervals, such as two weeks after the initial phone call.

Drop Inactive Leads

While emphasizing the importance of prioritizing high-value leads, recognizing when to release a lead is equally crucial.

Parting ways can be challenging, especially after investing weeks or even months in building and nurturing a relationship. A lead reaches its conclusion when it explicitly expresses disinterest, becomes unresponsive, or cannot progress to the following stages of a sales pipeline despite multiple interactions.

Efficiently identifying these concluded leads is imperative. This skill allows you to swiftly transition to the next sales opportunity, focusing your efforts on closing significant deals. Avoid investing additional time attempting to revive leads that have signaled they won't make a purchase.

Monitor Pipeline Metrics

Acknowledging that the stages of a sales pipeline are a dynamic and ever-evolving entity, it is crucial to monitor the key sales metrics it generates consistently. These KPIs reveal vital aspects such as the number of deals within the pipeline, the average size of these deals, your win percentage (close ratio), and the average duration of a deal before closure (sales velocity).

Ensure that dedicated time is allocated every week for regularly reviewing these metrics. This routine analysis provides an immediate, insightful snapshot of your sales pipeline's health and, by extension, the overall well-being of your business.

Continuously tracking these metrics over time serves as a valuable tool. It not only furnishes you with a real-time understanding of the impact of any alterations or enhancements to your sales process but also offers a substantial indicator of their contribution to the sustained growth of your business.

Stages of a Sales Pipeline - Final Thoughts

From the initial prospecting to the grand finale of a successful purchase, each step plays a vital role in orchestrating a symphony of success for your business.

As you implement these insights into your sales journey, consider leveraging advanced tools to streamline and optimize your pipeline management. For an all-encompassing solution that seamlessly guides you through every stage, we recommend our software, Ringy, as the premier sales software CRM.

With its intuitive features and robust capabilities, Ringy ensures that your sales pipeline flows smoothly and flourishes, propelling your business toward unparalleled growth.

Request a demo and witness the transformative power Ringy brings to managing each stage of your sales pipeline.

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