The Difference Between a Sales Pipeline, Funnel and Process
The terms are often confused, but are not interchangeable.
While sales pipeline, funnel and process all describe the flow from lead to sale, there are important differences among these often confused terms.
A sales funnel measures what your target AUDIENCE does in response to a marketing conversation. It reflects conversion rates achieved through the stages of a sales process as potential leads disengage, are disqualified or just decide not to buy from you.
A sales pipeline measures and reflects what YOU do in response to their actions in the conversation in your sales process.
A sales process defines RECURRING ACTIONS you take to move leads across the stages of your pipeline. Typically these are: qualification, discussion, offer proposal and close.
Pre-defined criteria determine when/how a lead moves through each stage. The assigned path, actions and timing you set up can be different depending on lead quality.
An effective marketing conversation and strategic marketing campaign can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you at all stages of the sales process.
Monitoring a sales funnel tells you how many leads you had last quarter, what % went through each stage, how long it took at each step and what it cost to get your wins.
Analysis highlights weak links in your funnel, pipeline and process and helps you forecast sales based on actual ones. Without doing regular analysis, you simply won’t know where you need to make the improvements that lead to the results you seek.