Performance Management

How to Build a Sales Pipeline

Scott Leese

We all know that in order to be successful in sales you have to constantly build, and properly manage, your pipeline. But does everybody know what that means? More importantly perhaps, does everybody know HOW to build a pipeline?

Fast forward to 2021. Congrats! You have just started your new role at your new early-stage startup SaaS company. You made it through onboarding and sales training, you know your product, and you are ready to start hitting the phones…and here comes that magic phrase again “build pipeline.”

Uh oh…now what do you do?

Building pipeline early is two parts: Start the Foundation, and then Reverse Engineer the Build.

Starting the Foundation

To Start the Foundation it does not involve much more than the actual action.

  1. Get your leads/targets/ICP (ideal customer profile) from the company. 
    1. If they don’t have the ability to supply you with this, finding these leads is the first step.
  2. Create a messaging template and build a cadence.
  3. Begin a thoughtful prospecting campaign.

That’s it! 

Yes, it’s that simple. Just start dialing. Or start emailing. Or start reaching out via LinkedIn. 

Just start.

Why do we have to overthink things so much? Just get started, and get into a rhythm. It is within this stage that we are understanding the process, and preparing the foundation of our pipeline. 

Okay, maybe it’s a little bit more involved than that. How many dials? How many emails? How many messages via LinkedIn should you send per day? The correct answer is…more complicated than that.

Reverse Engineering 

This is where we are going to reverse engineer our pipeline strategy, and break it down into bite size consumable numbers. (And you will see why just getting started is so relevant.)

Start with your goals:

  1. How many deals do you need to hit quota?
  2. At what price point?
  3. In what time frame do you need them?
  4. Now break it down, and it only takes one deal to set some preliminary targets. 
    1. And if you’re still working on your first, use a peer, or an educated guess if this is deal #1.

Do you want to dive deeper into the data and turn your pipeline into a math equation? Good.

  1. How many contracts were sent?
  2. How many demos did you run?
  3. How many demos did you schedule?
  4. How many opportunities did you open?
  5. How many connections did you make with Decision Makers or Champions (folks who are critical to the buying process)?
  6. How many touches were made? (calls,email,social)

The correct answer is – it doesn’t really matter. What matters are the results that come from those activities. What matters is:

  1. How many connections you made
    1. And made with the Decision Maker(s) or 
    2. Folks that are going to be critical to the buying process
  2. How many demos did you schedule
    1. And how soon after the first call are they booked
  3. How many demos did you run today
  4. How many contracts you sent out
  5. How many follow up calls/appointments did you schedule
  6. How many deals did you close
    1. And what are the size of those deals

I always figure I need to have 10 deals in the pipeline in order to guarantee myself one deal actually closing. But wait – isn’t that overkill and too many? Yeah, for sure…but why cut it so close?

Work on building pipeline so big it becomes too big to fail you.


Scott Leese