A Leads Pipeline defines the sequential stages through which a lead passes in the sales process. Typical stages (sometimes called “Lifecycle Status”), might be:
- Converted to Opportunity
Additional lifecycle statuses might include “Nurturing” in the case of a qualified lead from a customer who is not yet ready to buy. However, they would like to learn more about the product or service being marketed. So, in this example Leads Pipeline, leads that arrive are either qualified or disqualified. Where the customer is ready to buy, the lead is converted to an opportunity. The opportunity eventually moves to closed-won for customers who buy, or to closed-lost when the customer decides to choose another vendor or decides not to buy.
Leads Funnel – a leads funnel is a visual representation of the number of leads that have reached each stage of a leads pipeline for a given cohort (batch) of leads.
The CMO may define the cohort under study in the leads funnel to be all leads received year to date, all leads from the first quarter, or all leads from January, as examples.
The leads funnel not only shows the number leads that have reached each stage, but also shows the conversion rate from one stage to the next. For example, examine the example here, where we count year to date leads by stage achieved.
A lead that arrives and is reviewed will be counted in the totals for Leads and Reviewed. If it is disqualified, it will be counted in no other stages. A lead that passes through each stage and results in a sale will be counted in each of the Leads Pipeline stages.
As the CMO, you may want to use a single pipeline for all marketing-generated leads that are presented to Sales. Alternatively, depending on your reporting needs, you may want to set up a pipeline for each lead source so that you can track end to end conversion and cost by lead source.
Are "leads Pipeline" and "Sales Pipeline" the Same Thing?
In most cases, yes.
The terms “Leads Pipeline” and “Sales Pipeline” refer to the same thing – a stagewise tally of the number of leads that have reached each stage in the pipeline for all leads in a single cohort. As before, the cohort could be YTD marketing leads, or the cohort could be all leads from a single month for a single product line if a separate leads pipeline is tracked for that product line.
However, in sales team members also use “Sales Pipeline” to refer to the dollar value of deals in the pipeline. In other words, there may be $600,000 of qualified deals that are converted to opportunities, but only $100,000 of those opportunities have been closed and won.
In the same way, the term “Sales Funnel” usually refers to the same count of leads that have reached each stage in the pipeline, just like “Leads Funnel”. However, the term can also refer not to the count, but to the dollar value of each lead in the stages of the funnel.
As the CMO, where there are a large number of deals in the funnel and where the average deal value is fairly small, it is safe to estimate the dollar value of deals in each stage by multiplying the lead count in each funnel stage by the average deal value.
However, if there are just a few leads in each stage (fewer than 100 for example) and the deal sizes are large (perhaps over $50K each), you will need to tabulate the dollar value of each deal in each stage to avoid
Get the Free Model
You can get an example leads pipeline model referenced here, and a PDF copy of “Guide to Leads Pipelines for the CMO”, by downloading the model (in Excel spreadsheet form) and guide from the landing page at
With the Excel spreadsheet, you can follow the example data shown here. You can also plug in your own data to build your own pipeline model and forecast your sales in any future month.