The CRM pipeline in your CRM system is a critical capability that can help your sales teams discern between customers that have potential and those who don’t (or need some extra time, perhaps through lead nurturing and awareness campaigns). When built in alignment with your business's and its customer's unique needs, a CRM pipeline shall serve as a blueprint for new and old sales teams so that no worthwhile client falls through the cracks.
Additionally, a well-devised CRM pipeline can also be the base for building a CX strategy that is financially viable and empowers your team to truly understand customer concerns - well before they even occur, sometimes. AI and machine learning can further augment insights since big data and business intelligence can be integrated into your CRM pipeline to assist with accurate prospecting, needs analyses, and value propositions.
This is particularly useful for seasonal demands, where your CRM pipeline will need to be adjusted or scaled depending on customers’ preferences. A CRM for holiday sales can infuse seasonal marketing campaigns and perform proactive lead nurturing that keeps customers engaged after the promotional period.
Here, we outline general CRM pipeline stages and key trends that may influence your company’s CRM pipeline. Although the various steps are free to be customized depending on the objectives and targets of your sales teams, these can serve as a foundation for better understanding.
The Different Phases of a CRM Pipeline
The very first stage of your CRM pipeline, the prospecting stage, is where most marketing functions will be located. Here, marketing automation tools can streamline the many campaigns your business may want to run for potential sourcing customers.
At this stage of your CRM pipeline, your team needs to go beyond the typical buyer story or persona to gauge whether the lead at hand bears the potential to purchase your product or service. Again, this can be automated with tools such as sentiment analysis, so your sales team need only pursue clients with a genuine intention to purchase.
Once a high-potential lead falls into your CRM pipeline, your sales team needs to understand the problems the information faces and what they would like to improve through your product. Sales force automation can enable this programmatically through capabilities such as intelligent AI recommendations based on previous customer interactions.
This may be the most crucial stage of your CRM pipeline, as your team now needs to articulate the actual value of your product about the needs analysis conducted during the previous phase. By connecting problems to possible solutions your product offers, your sales team can drive customer loyalty by focusing on the issues that truly matter.
Passing through all the above stages of your CRM pipeline, your lead may not be the final decision maker for purchasing the product; their boss is. This is especially the case for B2B markets. So it is crucial to have this clarified beforehand to handle your customers better - by building rapport with the final decision maker.
Negotiation and Quotes/Estimates
Once the customer is optimistic about making a purchase, this stage of your CRM pipeline needs to facilitate quotations and estimates and clarify any fine print for legal formalities. Again, workflow automation can programmatically streamline this, so no necessary data is missed.
For long-term projects that involve consistent communication and collaboration, this quotes/estimation component from your CRM pipeline can be integrated with project management software, so other departments that need to work with customers post-sales can receive all the data they need seamlessly, minus any silos.
At this final stage of your CRM pipeline, your team will know whether the prospect has turned into a paying customer or not. Either way, the experience and insights gained can be resourcefully utilized to create a unique customer experience so your sales teams have a constant flow of feedback for improvement.
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The Value of Integrations for a CRM Pipeline
Integration is a significant part of common CRM management tactics - and your custom CRM pipeline is no exception. Building a great customer experience that is also lucrative at the same time is an endeavor that requires multiple tools that all work in concert to centralize organizational objectives. CRM Monday is a good example of CRM software that offers robust tools for planning and pipeline.
Therefore, different applications can be integrated into the various types of CRM pipelines, from marketing automation tools during the prospecting stage, to accounting or task management components, during the quotation phase.
Unified Communications (UC) for Streamlining Your CRM Pipeline
With multiple communication channels now available for customers, implementing enterprise Unified Communications (UC) is bound to be a game-changer for businesses that depend on various applications for omnichannel customer service. Again, UC can be deployed either along individual stages of your CRM pipeline or across your entire CRM.
By unifying communications across different stages of the CRM pipeline and between departments within the organization, sales teams can also gain access to data they otherwise may never have been able to. This gives them the additional context they need before reaching out to customers (especially existing ones) and increases their chances of positive interaction with said customers.
AI and Machine Learning for Optimizing Your CRM Pipeline
As AI and machine learning increase across the digital landscape to offer in-depth analyses and intelligent recommendations, your CRM pipeline can also benefit. By training bots with big data, organizations can make sense of otherwise raw numbers to identify patterns, which can substantially help with wise decision-making.
Self-service business intelligence is another critical breakthrough in the data analysis space. It offers otherwise non-tech-savvy staff the ability to generate custom reports without needing technical expertise from the IT department.