What is a sales pipeline? what are the pipeline stages?

What is a sales pipeline? what are the pipeline stages?

By Steven Bennett

In a nutshell, a sales pipeline is the path the path your buyers take on their journey from lead to customer. Unlike a sales funnel, a sales pipeline defines a number of stages that need to be acted upon by your sales team in the aim of converting leads.

Using and managing a sales pipeline gives you a large advantage when dealing with leads as it can provide you with a system that makes the buyer journey more predictable and converts higher.

What is the difference between a sales funnel and a sales pipeline?

Although the two often get confused, there is actually a clear definition between the two.

Sales funnel

A sales funnel is a series of stages that are designed to impact the decision making of a customer. A simple sales funnel may look like this.

  1. A prospect sees an ad about your products or services
  2. The prospect clicks on the ad and is redirected to a web page that describes the benefit of using your product/service
  3. The prospect enters their contact details into a form on a landing page requesting more information - The prospect is now a lead
  4. You email the lead with a fantastic offer
  5. The lead takes advantage of the offer and is now a customer

Sales pipeline

The stages in a sales pipeline differ from those in funnels as each one describes the action your sales team needs to perform to convert leads into clients. An example of the stages your sales team may use in a sales pipeline would be:

  1. Find prospective buyers who need your products or services
  2. Qualify your leads using lead magnets to determine of they are interested in your offerings
  3. Contact the prospect and begin building a relationship
  4. Attempt to close the sale
  5. Follow up with cold leads and attempt to build the relationship further

As you can see, although they may first seem similar there is actually a big difference between a sales funnel and a sales pipeline.

What stages should I include in your sales pipeline?

Although it is possible to create your own pipeline there are a number of stages that are essential or come highly recommended.

Prospecting / Lead generation

For a pipeline to exist you first need prospects. These are the people that journey through your pipeline from prospect to lead to customer.

To find prospects you may use a variety of techniques including advertising, content marketing and other promotional methods.

Lead qualification

Determine if the prospect is interested in your products and services by asking for their contact details in exchange for a lead magnet such as an eBook or webinar. At this point the prospect has been converted to a lead.

Lead nurturing

Develop a relationship with your lead through phone conversations, product demos and/or meetings.


Provide solid reasons to the lead on why they should use your product or services. Separate yourself from your competitors and justify why the price of your product is outweighed by the value your product/service offers.


If necessary, attempt to find a common ground with your lead by adjusting the scope of your offering and/or the price.

Close the sale

Make the sale official through a contract or purchase.

Sales pipeline summary

As you can see, sales pipelines are extremely powerful tools when used correctly. They can allow you to predict future sales figures, give you a winning template for converting prospects and discover valuable information that can help you transform your sales methods and processes.

If you want to start using sales pipelines within your business, you can create one today using pipeline tools like the ones found in Bloom Cube. Simply sign-up">sign up to our FREE trial and begin seeing what a sales pipeline can do for you and your business.

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