Essential Sales Pipeline Stages Every Small Business Should Use

Sneha Hull | December 29, 2021 | 139 views

Sales Pipeline Stages for Small Business
The fiscal year 2021 is drawing to a close, and we are rapidly approaching the commencement of the next fiscal year, 2022. While you may already have a well-defined B2B sales pipeline in place, there is always room for growth in terms of increased sales, lead conversions, and income.

Due to an unorganized sales process, sales may be erratic for many small firms. Businesses may overcome this by re-evaluating and developing their sales funnel. This blog explores the various and essential sales pipeline stages and briefs about creating a customized sales pipeline.
Small firms can implement an automated pipeline to assist representatives in tracking prospects as they progress through the B2B sales pipeline.

"Keep your sales pipeline full by prospecting continuously. Always have more people to see than you have time to see then."

– Brian Tracy

Firstly, let us explore a sales pipeline and how to create one.

What is a Sales Pipeline?

The sales pipeline describes current and future sales opportunities that managers may use to estimate revenue, bottlenecks in the sales funnel, and anticipated cash flow.

Sales pipelines may assist you in visualizing the whole sales process; they can inform you of the stage at which your transactions are in the sales funnel and which sales activities generate the most money.

The sales pipeline process helps small businesses discover five insights:
  • Revenue and cash flow projections
  • Duration of the sales cycle
  • Deficiencies in resources and over-allocation
  • The success of sales representatives and a skills shortage
  • Bottlenecks and impediments in the process

How to Create a Sales Pipeline?

Creating a sales funnel is a significant effort that requires careful attention. You must incorporate many critical indicators into your sales pipeline process, including lead source, transaction size, industry, decision-makers, and chance of closing.

Here are a few ideas that can work while building the sales pipeline process:
  • Educating prospective buyers
  • Define the stages of sales
  • Conduct a sales cycle analysis
  • Refresh your sales procedures

Crucial Stages of a Sales Pipeline


Prospecting Stage

It is one of the first steps of the sales pipeline stages. It is also referred to as the lead generation stage because it is at this stage that fresh leads are generated and converted into loyal purchasing clients.

Sales representatives research and develop a target base that exactly matches the buyer profile, but they may or may not be aware of your product or service at this time. You should develop an interest in your leads using a variety of effective methods. However, you may do so via advertisements, promotional activities, giving discounts or gifts, advertising on social media platforms, content marketing, and meetings with networks, among other methods.

Not every lead will convert, and this stage is mostly about lead generation. It is important to note that most of the leads will be filtered out in the next sales pipeline stages.

Lead Qualification

At this point, the true sales process begins; merely obtaining leads is insufficient. This step allows you to filter and rate all of your leads and assess if they fulfill the requirements for a future purchase. It is a critical stage in the CRM sales process.

How do you accomplish this? To begin, develop a client profile and categorize them based on demographic data, shared characteristics, activity, gender, interests, and, finally, pain issues.

The leads are sorted, and a prospective buyer list is prepared for the sales representative to contact. As a result, you provide the prospective customer with an e-book, white paper, webinar, or other lead magnet to ascertain whether the prospect is interested in knowing more about your products and services.

First Meeting Stage

The sales representative has reached one of the most critical sales pipeline stages. You plan a meeting at this step to guide potential purchasers through your offers and solutions. Additionally, this stage informs you if clients are considering making a purchase from you or not.

Email is a crucial component of the B2B sales funnel stages. You may contact your leads without interfering with their daily routines. Email is critical during the CRM sales stages since it combines and syncs your email, ensuring that you don't miss important meetings.

Proposal Stage

After identifying your prospect's requirements and developing a solution to meet them, you submit a proposal and close the deal. Remember that the proposal stage varies according to salespeople, companies, and items.

The proposal should include the following information:
  • Specifics about your offering
  • Your pricing structures
  • Your competitive advantages

You must establish timeframes and reminders for regular follow-ups with clients to ensure successful completion. Indeed, this may be accomplished with automatic reminder emails and tasks for the salesperson to contact prospects who have not yet answered.

Negotiation/Offer Stage

This is one of the key sales pipeline stages. Convincing the customer about the value of investing in your product or service requires ability. This step entails changing the scope of work, cost, and expectations to agree on a mutually beneficial collaboration.

Negotiation is one of the most time-consuming aspects of the B2B sales pipeline stages. Finding common ground may require multiple phone conversations, emails, or in-person encounters.

Deal Closure Stage

When you've completed all the sales pipeline stages and reached the point of completing the deal, you've accomplished nearly everything possible. When the final price and terms are agreed upon, the transaction is complete, and the service is ready to be given. After you've finished the agreement and signed the contract, you'll begin the onboarding process for your customer.

Conclusion

As you can see, the sales pipeline process is divided into seven steps that might assist you in determining where your pipeline is deficient. Your sales representative may then focus on these weaknesses to generate sales and convert leads to customers.

Remember that sales pipeline stages drastically minimize the time required to close deals and generate more leads.

FAQ:


How can the sales pipeline be improved?

You must have complete insight into the status of deals, fresh leads, and predicted close/win rates. When you have a higher degree of visibility, you can focus more on your sales strategies rather than tactical execution. You can improve the sales pipeline by focusing on lead generation.

What are the steps in the sales process?

The sales process comprises five crucial steps.
  • Approach the customer
  • Determine client requirements
  • Provide an answer
  • Complete the transaction
  • Complete the deal and maintain contact

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TECHNOLOGY, SMALL BUSINESS ADVICE

How to Choose the Right Small Business Accounting Software?

Article | July 16, 2022

Introduction With increasing complexities in financial management and migration towards digital technologies for accounting operations, advanced accounting solutions are gaining massive traction across the small business sector. Accounting software assists small businesses in enhancing their financial performance by providing higher accuracy, optimized payroll, automated transaction tracking, centralizing financial records, and others. However, it is crucial for small businesses to integrate the right accounting software as per their requirements to get the most out of the solutions. Since the market is full of numerous accounting solutions with different capabilities, selecting the one that is most suitable for your business can be overwhelming. So what are the factors that a small business owner should consider before looking for an accounting solution? Let’s see below. Select the Right Accounting Software: The Top 5 Primary Factors to Consider for Small Businesses Types of Software With multiple types of accounting software available, such as system software, application software, cloud-based software, and others, small business owners can opt for solutions that suit their operations and working style. If the owners operate in an on-the-go style, cloud-based software is best for them. But if the owners prefer to work from a single location, then the system software is appropriate for them. Learning Curve Until and unless small business owners are aware of the ins and outs of accounting software, using the software may seem complicated. As the high complexity of the solutions can result in costly errors, these owners should make sure that the learning curve for operating the software is not too steep. Features List Before small business owners start reviewing various types of accounting software platforms, they should take the time to brush up on the basics. It is crucial for the owners to make sure that the accounting solution has all the functionalities and features they need, such as inventory management, multi-currency support, payment processing, expense tracking, and others. They should also consider the add-on features that the solution provider can offer. Software Cost Accounting software varies in cost, depending on the number of users it supports, its tools and features, and other factors. The more specialized the software is, the more expensive it gets. Small business owners should compare prices between various accounting software providers and understand the exact amount and the process by which they will be charged. For instance, some of the companies charge standard monthly fees, while others have a single upfront cost with additional charges for add-on services. They should also find out if there are any hidden charges associated with the setup, customer support, and cloud storage. Customer Support A huge part of a reliable accounting solution is customer service. This is because small business owners need quick solutions and answers if they get stuck or have any questions related to the software. They do not want to be bounced around from representative to representative when reaching out for support. Thus, the owners should look for accounting software that offers excellent customer support and service. While selecting the solution, they should research and read customer testimonials about the software’s customer support. Begin Your Accounting the Right Way Efficient accounting is a crucial part of financial management, which involves tracking critical business activities such as accounts receivable and payable, invoicing and billing, bank reconciliation, reporting, and tax compliance, among others. It can be difficult for small businesses to get everything right, yet good accounting is fundamental for the company's growth and success. Choosing the correct accounting software is a crucial first step when getting started with the discipline. To get the most out of your accounting software, it is essential for small businesses to carefully consider their requirements, check the availability of features as per the requirements, and then select the accounting software that provides the capabilities they require for the greatest accounting experience.

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How Are Small Business Accounting Software Meeting the Industry Needs Today?

Article | September 23, 2022

Introduction Every business owner wishes to become financially independent when starting a business. To achieve that, it is crucial for the owners to manage their finances in an efficient manner. When done wrong, financial management, which is supposed to make a company's budgeting processes more efficient, has led to the loss of funds in many cases. Without sound financial management, small businesses may struggle to meet their objectives and might even suffer losses that could push them into insolvency. Financial management assists businesses in maximizing their market share, minimizing capital expenditures, maintaining proper cash flow, and improving profits. Accounting software plays a significant role in proper financial management and has become a vital need for all businesses today. With a better understanding of the inefficiencies of manual bookkeeping and the increased chances of error in finance tracking, business owners are increasingly shifting from managing finances manually to leveraging innovative solutions, such as accounting software, to improve their financial management. Why Is Small Business Accounting Software a Need for the Industry Today? In the course of a typical day, there are numerous tasks and responsibilities that must be managed and accomplished by small businesses by the end of the day. From planning to managing finances and accounting, a small business owner's back is full of a plethora of day-to-day tasks. As a result, keeping track of every last detail is nearly impossible for them, especially in accounting, where keeping track of every transaction is critical for managing business operations. Accurate and reliable accounting management is critical for small businesses and start-ups to ensure stable cash flow. As accounting software helps small business owners keep track of every single transaction along with other benefits, such as managing business finances, understanding profitability, and preparing tax statements, among others, it is becoming a necessity for small business financial management. Here are some of the other reasons why small business accounting software is becoming a necessity in the industry. Overcoming Manual Records With the growing number of transactions in the small business sector, it is becoming increasingly difficult for business owners to track and record income and expense data. As accounting software assists these owners to overcome manual work by recording the data directly into the page in real time and keeping a daily update of all the transactions, it is increasingly being sought by small businesses. Ease in Maintaining Transaction Due to the increasing customer inclination towards the adoption of digital payment solutions, small businesses are encountering numerous obstacles in maintaining all transactions from different online portals. Accounting software helps businesses leverage the bank feed feature to connect credit card accounts and the business bank, thereby centralizing and maintaining all transactional data in one place. Preparation of Reports and Financial Statements Keeping track of all small and large transactions and preparing financial statements, such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets, of these transactions manually is a tedious task and prone to errors. Accounting software automates the preparation of these financial statements and allows comparing transaction activity from prior months and years. As a result, it is increasingly gaining acceptance among small business owners. Increases Efficiency Accounting software allows small businesses to manage invoices and expenses, prepare for taxation, and keep tabs on all the financials, including payments, bad debts, upcoming dues, employee salaries, and others. Delegating all these financial management responsibilities to accounting software enables small business owners to focus on tasks that require their undivided attention, thereby boosting business efficiency. Bottom Line Regardless of the size of the business, every company strives to optimize its financial management, improve efficiencies, minimize costs, and simplify complex and tedious tasks. Accounting software can help small business owners achieve these objectives, along with eliminating time-consuming manual processes and redundancies, by automating accounting practices. Following this, the growing introduction of advanced cloud-based accounting software capable of providing real-time data access to business owners from anywhere at any time and on any device is expected to change the ways accounting is done in the small business industry in the coming years.

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How Are Small Business Accounting Software Meeting Industry Needs Today?

Article | July 29, 2022

Introduction With numerous tasks and operations to take care of, from basic invoicing and billing to project management and tax calculations, small business owners find it a nerve-wracking challenge to keep track of all monetary transactions and manage accounts payable. In addition, the advent of digitization, the growing penetration of cloud-based solutions in the industry, and the introduction of cutting-edge accounting software, among others, are eliminating the extra use of paper, pens, files, and voluminous binders. Because of these small business financing trends, businesses and start-ups are increasingly inclined toward online financial management tools, such as small business accounting software, to handle their financial data. The small business accounting software assists them in examining their financial condition along with accurately recording businesses’ cash flow, generating reports, tracking transactions, monitoring account balances, billing customers, creating purchase orders, and much more. Owing to such compelling features, these small business financial management solutions are garnering massive popularity in the industry. Small Business Accounting Software: Emerging Financial Needs in the Industry Running a small business sometimes entails wearing several hats, such as sending emails, paying suppliers, invoicing, creating processes, and preparing financial reports. All these are essential tasks, along with the other small business operations, such as employee management and work management, among others. None of the additional responsibilities faced by small business owners are as crucial as accounting. Robust accounting processes are vital for keeping businesses in excellent financial condition and helping owners to make smarter decisions. Accounting software provides various features that can facilitate the smooth operation of the organization. From processing invoices to monitoring cash flow, here are the primary ways accounting software can assist owners to meet financial requirements for small businesses and promote growth. Automate Invoicing and Billing Due to the shortage of cash inflow, it is vital for small businesses to keep the cash flowing by billing clients and crediting customers on time. Accounting software assists small businesses in automating the billing process, enabling owners to create recurring invoices, send follow-up reminders, and accept digital payments directly from the invoices. It also assists in tracking all unpaid invoices and preventing accidental missing payments, thereby fending off potential losses. Expense Tracking A common accounting mistake that small businesses often make is failing to accurately track business costs and expenses, which causes a shortage of cash flow. The deployment of the right small business accounting software prevents this from happening and enables firms to keep track of all the spending and identify the source where the money is being spent. Efficient Inventory Management Proper inventory management is a crucial part of small businesses as they cannot stock products in large quantities due to the unavailability of a large amount of capital. Good inventory management is necessary to guarantee an adequate supply and deliver superior customer service. Accounting software aids small businesses in recording stock keeping unit (SKU) codes, monitoring goods, preparing reports, tracking products sold, and running reports on which items firms are doing well and which ones aren’t. Bank Reconciliation Small business accounting solutions simplify one of the most fundamental tasks of the company—bank reconciliation. It enables small business owners to access their bank statements directly from the accounting solutions, along with comparing bank statements, balancing debits and credits, and identifying any discrepancies at the end of each financial period. The Final Thought Maintaining correct financial records at all times is essential for the success of small businesses and start-ups. For maintaining proper accounts, these businesses need a system that overcomes the drawbacks of traditional accounting tools such as spreadsheets. With the introduction of novel accounting software integrated with artificial intelligence, big data, and other technologies, these financial management solutions are paving the way for small businesses.

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Small Business Financial Management: One-Stop Solution for Financial Hurdles

Article | September 23, 2022

Introduction Managing finances is crucial for organizations, especially small businesses, to create a stable financial future in which the business is less likely to fail. Small businesses and start-up companies have to face numerous challenges and even bear losses at their introductory stage due to the difficulties in maintaining proper cash flow. According to a study, around 61% of small business owners say that they face challenges in handling consistent and steady cash flow. Many start-ups undertake operational business activities after obtaining loans from different financial institutions due to insufficient cash flow and capital. Hence, to keep small business operations running smoothly, they need to optimize the inflow and outflow of cash and financial management. Small business financial management assists these start-up companies in reducing financial costs, facilitating the availability of investment, and planning, organizing, directing, and controlling financial activities. With competition intensifying in the sector, the need for financial management is becoming even more critical for small businesses. Why Are Financial Management Solutions Becoming Imperative for Small Businesses? Running a small business is not an easy task. Even if you have a great idea and a large number of people longing for your product or service, the financial difficulties of operating a small business can quickly escalate and hamper the business. A plethora of expected and unexpected issues, such as overhead costs, rising interest or inflation rates, impending tax deadlines, remediating damage from a natural disaster, and many more, can create insurmountable obstacles for small business owners. Whether it is insufficient cash flow or a lack of accurate monthly reconciliation reports, many small business finance-related issues can be avoided with the proper management of finance and reporting. What are the other small business money management challenges that financial management solutions can assist to overcome? Let's see: Poor cash flow management Managing a budget Planning future expenses Controlling debt Inconsistent cash flow Tips for Effective Small Business Financial Management Small businesses today are highly fragile due to excessive competition in the industry. Hence, start-ups and new companies have to invest a significant amount of money in order to keep their business fully functional and running. Right from accumulating funds to allocating and spending them, it is crucial for small business owners to have a transparent view of their financial position and business undertakings to engage in planning for efficient utilization of available resources. Effective financial management not only assists in managing small businesses' finance and rotating the cash invested in the business, but it also assists in analyzing revenue generation, formulating suitable financial strategies, and calculating adequate returns, among others. It is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of businesses, irrespective of their size. With an increasing need for managing huge funds, continuous transactions, daily cash flow, payrolls, and others, it is becoming even more critical for small businesses and start-ups to manage their finances effectively. Here are some of the vital tips that can help small businesses analyze and manage their finance effectively: Prioritize business financial planning Create a budget and stick to it Analyze cash flow Keep business and personal finances separate Focus on expenditures but also ROI Monitor spending Opt for a financial solution or service Final Thoughts With the fast-changing financial requirements of small businesses and the emergence of novel small business financing trends, entrepreneurs are emphasizing streamlining and managing their financial chores. To overcome a growing number of financial obstacles, leading financial solution developers are aiming at integrating advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics in novel small business financial management solutions. This is anticipated to create a strong demand for innovative financial management tools, such as small business accounting software, across the industry in the forthcoming years.

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BankiFi and MX Partner to Enable Data Sharing and Account Connectivity for Financial Institutions Serving Small and Medium-Sized Business Customers

BankiFi | November 09, 2022

BankiFi, a leading provider of embedded banking solutions, has partnered with MX Technologies, Inc., a leader in open finance, to enable secure data sharing and account connectivity for businesses using BankiFi’s platform. Through this collaboration, financial institutions will be able to leverage MX’s open finance APIs to bring account connectivity and data access to a robust suite of banking solutions tailored to the unique needs of small to medium-sized businesses (SMB). This partnership between BankiFi and MX enables SMB users to securely connect their bank accounts within the BankiFi Open Cash Management platform for a more complete picture of their financial data. Coupled with BankiFi’s secure connectivity to leading accounting platforms, this partnership provides SMBs with a holistic view of accounts receivable and payment activity, as well as a centralized platform to view operating accounts. This consolidated offering enables banks to provide more efficient SMB services, while building stronger relationships, identifying lending opportunities, and providing a valuable suite of financial workflows. The partnership with MX also provides BankiFi the opportunity to leverage MX’s Instant Account and ID Verifications for various use cases within the Open Cash Management platform. “Partnering with MX strengthens our accessibility and allows us to deliver premier financial workflows and banking solutions to financial institutions and their SMB customers, By embracing MX’s open finance APIs for seamless connectivity and expanded financial data, banks using the BankiFi Open Cash Management platform can make it easy for their SMB customers to connect all of their financial accounts in one place, which is of tremendous value given a recent American Banker SMB survey indicates nearly 78% of all SMBs who have at least two financial institution relationships.” Keith Riddle, CEO of Americas at BankiFi BankiFi’s industry leading Open Cash Management platform has been built to quickly and easily enable a suite of financial workflows to manage invoice issuance and payment collection, matching and reconciliation of invoice data and payments, supplier payments, and cash flow forecasting. Additionally, BankiFi’s Open Cash Management platform manages API connectivity with major accounting packages like QuickBooks and XERO to become the SMB’s consolidated platform for financial management functions. Our integration with BankiFi enables financial institutions to bring the power of open finance and data-driven insights to the SMB market,” said Brett Allred, Chief Innovation Officer, MX. “Together, BankiFi and MX help eliminate the barriers between banking, accounting and accounts payable/receivable platforms to make it easier for businesses to manage their cash. About BankiFi BankiFi is on a mission to help over two million SMBs globally by 2024 through partnering with financial institutions to provide technology designed to make business banking better. BankiFi’s platform enables financial institutions to provide a set of integrated services – financial account access, accounting, invoicing and payments, and cash flow forecasting – designed around the processes SMB and trade customers use to run their business. It equips financial institutions to become customer centric, rather than product centric, increasing their revenues (direct and through actionable insights) and reducing costs. BankiFi’s offices are in Ohio, Manchester, Sydney and Antwerp. About MX MX Technologies, Inc., a leader in Open Finance, makes data accessible and actionable for everyone. MX is building the largest open finance ecosystem to help drive innovation and improve experiences through secure and reliable access to financial data. MX combines trusted open finance APIs with enhanced financial data to quickly and securely connect to and verify data for hundreds of use cases including account opening, money movement, and underwriting.

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MARKETING AND NETWORKING

ERC Digital Launches to Help Small Businesses Secure Tax Refunds, Leveraging Big Four Accounting Firm Technology

ERC Digital | November 30, 2022

ERC Digital, the service empowering small businesses to receive United States government tax incentives, has launched after teaming with a Big Four accounting firm to bring industry-leading tax knowledge to the ERC process. ERC Digital is the only organization of its kind to do so, as well as collaborate with IRS technology partner Tax Status, furthering its mission to bring small businesses the same opportunities and resources as large corporations. Originally created as part of the CARES Act in 2020, the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) was part of the initiatives to encourage sustained employment and small business support. For qualified employers, the ERC provides up to $26,000 in tax credit refunds per employee. Unfortunately, many small businesses have yet to take advantage of this program due to the complexity of the filing process. The ERC Digital service simplifies the process of getting employers tax relief. Through deep expertise across key areas including how to navigate government processes, improving regulated filing efficiencies and now, the addition of partners and technology utilizations that provide deep industry knowledge, ERC Digital is helping advocate for small businesses across the country. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Now, more than ever, they deserve to get the money that is available to them and benefit from industry-leading expertise like that provided by a Big Four accounting firm, With ERC Digital, small businesses have a streamlined path to checking eligibility, preparing their ERC filings, and tracking the filing all through a transparent and efficient process." Michael Coghlan, Co-CEO of ERC Digital We believe in the importance of small businesses and making sure they have every advantage available to them to get the full refunds they deserve through the Employee Retention Credit," said Chuck Hayes, Senior Vice President at Tax Status.We're proud to contribute our expertise and insight to ERC Digital and help make claiming ERC easier and more transparent for businesses everywhere. About ERC Digital: ERC Digital is a product of Global Government Partners, a collaboration between industry experts in helping small businesses navigate government process and technology experts with deep background in simplifying regulated industry filings.

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