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Premeditated Selling

Chapter 07: Pipeline Management

Sales forecasting is inevitably problematic. Some salespeople are too optimistic. Some are too pessimistic. And beyond optimism and pessimism is plain, old forecasting ineptitude. The end result is forecasts that are inaccurate. This chapter provides some tools and techniques for improving your pipeline management process by helping you see the importance of building critical milestones into each stage. These milestones help create a common understanding of the pipeline process.

We propose that prospects in your pipelines can be categorized into five basic stages. We’ve found that these five stages tend to work across nearly every conceivable sales sector. They are:

  1. Opportunity Qualification
  2. Needs Development
  3. Solution Identification
  4. Implementation Resolution
  5. Contract Confirmation

You may incorporate more or less than five stages in your pipeline model. But more important than determining how many stages there should be is defining what criteria you use to promote a prospect from one stage to the next. These criteria need to be clearly defined and consistent across the entire customer-facing enterprise and in each sales opportunity. Without this consistency the pipeline falls apart, and so does the forecast. We also recommend that you err on the side of simplicity rather than complexity in developing your pipeline process.

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Author

  • For more than 15 years, Kevin has been designing and delivering training solutions that impact people’s lives. Kevin’s goal is to create a learning environment where participants can thrive and where lessons learned can be translated to the field. Kevin has worked in finance, sales, and sales training. It was in sales training that Kevin found his true passion—developing people. 

    Kevin received a B.A. in Business from North Carolina State University, and an M.B.A. from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kevin uses his academic exposure and real-world experience to develop training solutions that drive business results. Kevin’s work has enabled him to influence hundreds of companies in more than 30 countries worldwide.

  • Steve Gielda

    Steve Gielda is the principal partner at Ignite Selling, Inc., a global sales training and consulting company and author of Premeditated Selling: Tools for Developing the Right Strategy for Every Opportunity. Steve has spent more than 20 years helping Fortune 1000 companies in the healthcare, manufacturing, distribution, and IT industries to improve their sales performance. His emphasis on building and maintaining strong relationships and his focus on driving business results is what sets him apart with his clients. Steve began his career in sales with Lanier Worldwide, a document management solutions company, eventually becoming a regional manager. He was also vice president of sales and channel management at CTN, an office equipment manufacturing and distribution company. After CTN, Steve worked as a senior sales consultant for Huthwaite, helping to create unique sales training solutions for his clients. Most recently, he was a franchise owner with the Advantage Performance Group consulting and learning firm, and an active partner in building the business of Sales Momentum, a customized sales training organization.

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