Sales Pipeline – making business happen

Business doesn’t just happen. All businesses (even the non-profit ones) rely on selling and sales in some form.

I get the question from time to time, if it’s not too stressful to switch gig from one month to another, not ever being sure if the next big crisis hits or consultancy projects dry up. Well, that is the life of any company be it big or small. There is usually one person or an armada of people working hard to finalize deals that generate the money that pay for salaries, for the material needed to produce products and so forth. This is no different for me with my consultancy firm. To always be sure to have projects active (unless I actually do need vacation!), I need to keep my sales pipeline continuously updated and follow my internal sales processes. For me, it looks something like this:

Sales stages as seen in my sales pipeline in Hubspot

The above (with brokers’ names and amount figures redacted for obvious reasons) is my pipeline showing September + the latest won deal from earlier this year with the sales process I have created for my consultancy firm as seen in the “Deals” Dashboard in Hubspot– depending on your CRM system and settings you can of course adapt your Dashboard to your liking. My sales process and my pipe is divided into the following steps:  

“Sent Application / Offer” → “Interview (broker)” → “Presentation” → “Interview (client)” → “Negotiation & contract” → “Closed won” OR “Closed lost”

I work with both consultancy brokers and on my own (e.g. chasing leads myself, via network, inbound and outbound marketing). Now, a pipeline can be viewed as a funnel percentage wise, and for every lead only x% will be converted. You always need to have the amount of leads necessary (e.g. contact enough people/companies) to close a deal. Looking at my pipe, I will of course not close every single deal in there (would have been pretty cool, and would make me a sales goddess). I have been a buzy enough of a bee night time to have good funnel, leading to client presentations and interviews. Looking at the sales pipeline again, I set the estimated probability of closing a deal per stage to:

“Sent Application / Offer” (10%) → “Interview (broker)” (20%) → “Presentation” (30%) → “Interview (client)” (40%) → “Negotiation & contract” (90%) → “Closed won” (100%) OR “Closed lost” (0%)

The figures are based on gut feeling and are not evidence based. The likelihood of any given offer or application via a broker becoming a closed deal is small, and you need to send a certain amount of them to move to a closed deal. If you work with brokers, you usually need to be in touch with them 1-2 months prior to the date you wish to start a project (given we are not in a crisis, Covid-19/lows in the market are stories in themselves), and if you are cold selling a lead might take everything from 3 months to a year or longer to close (as either a win or loss).

Is 90% a done deal, and a closed one dead forever? Of course not. A negotiation might lead to both parties choosing not to proceed for various reasons, and a client or broker you spoke to x months or years back might become a very hot lead and a closed deal. Set tasks to keep in touch (if your brain isn’t amazingly good a remembering), and:

Always. Keep. That. Pipe. Busy.

P.S. Yes, it is quite good to be in 6 different processes as a consultant. And yes, I have something cooking/to be signed shortly post the current assignment I am in.

Want to know more about sales, pipelines and funnels? Drop me a line: