The Insightly Insider: Streamlining your Sales Process with Pipelines and Activity Sets

 

This ‘Ask the Expert’ session is all about maximizing your use of Insightly for sales with the help  of pipelines and activity sets. We’ll cover:

  • What is your sales process?
  • Why should you use pipelines and activity sets?
  • How to setup pipelines and activity sets

Insightly’s Customer Success Manager, Melissa, has been working in software startup companies for 6 years and enjoys training customers on how to use Insightly for their business in the best way possible. For this discussion, Melissa will be sharing her knowledge of how you can streamline your sales process through the use of Insightly’s pipelines and activity sets.

 

Join us to ask your questions and share your best practices!

 

Put some thought into your sales process. Is it consistent? Are there different steps based on certain factors? How can you build out your sales process in Insightly?

Insightly’s pipelines and activity sets are templates that can help you to streamline your sales process. In order to set them up efficiently, you must have a solid understanding of your company’s sales process, and what the different steps entail. You could have one overall process, that you follow for all new sales. Or, maybe you sell numerous different products or work with different industries, and your sales process is slightly different for each product or industry.

Once you have a qualified prospect, how does the sales process begin? For you to be successful with Insightly I need you to figure out the number of steps you’ll need to see each sale through to completion. Decide how many tasks you need to check off within each stage, before you can progress to the next stage of the pipeline. I recommend mapping out your sales process from start to finish on paper, so you have a visual representation of each step needed. You’ve done a great job, we’re nearly ready to put this to use in Insightly!

 

Now that we’ve spent some time thinking about our sales process, it’s time to relate it to Insightly and understand how Insightly can help you to streamline your sales process. With Insightly, you can ensure that nothing will fall through the cracks and that all of your sales people are following the same steps to complete a sale. And, perhaps most importantly, you can report on all of this as you go! Insightly helps you to easily see how many deals you have in the pipeline, how much they are worth monetarily and if any of them are lagging behind. Need to see how many opportunities you lost or won within a specific timeframe? That is possible too!

Pipelines are great for helping you and your team to understand exactly where you are in the overall sales process. Is this sale ahead of schedule, right on track, or falling behind? The nice thing about pipelines is you can look at one individual opportunity, or a group of opportunities as a whole, all within the same pipeline. Pipelines allow for you to see a high level overview of all deals in your funnel.

A pipeline is a linear set of stages that you can setup to outline your sales process from start to finish. They are completely customizable for your business, as you set them up from scratch. There is no limit to the number of stages your pipeline can have, but I recommend taking a higher level approach and not getting too detailed. Pro tip: anywhere from 5-8 stages is a good number.

Activity sets are a templated set of tasks and/or events that you can setup to greatly reduce your manual entry of tasks into Insightly. Ask yourself this:

  1. Do you and your team commonly perform the same tasks for each new sale, regardless of the prospective client?
  2. Do you always start off your sales process by calling the prospect and telling them more about your business and the product in question?
  3. Are there a number of handoffs between different people in the company during the sales process?

If any of this sounds familiar, then I highly recommend setting up activity sets to save you time and streamline your process! This way, nothing will fall through the cracks and everyone on your team will be aware of what they need to do to make a sale happen.

 

Pipelines and activity sets must be set up by an admin initially, then they can be used by anyone within the account moving forward. To set them up, please click on the Profile Icon in the top right, then select ‘System Settings.’ In the System Settings list you will find both pipelines and activity sets.

For Pipelines:

  • On the first screen you will want to type in the name of your pipeline. Hint: I recommend something generic, like ‘Sales Pipeline.’
  • Next you’ll want to check the box for ‘Opportunities’ or ‘Projects’ so it can be applied to either record type.
  • Finally, hit the ‘Edit Stages’ link on the right to proceed to the next page where you type out your different stages. Hint: I recommend having anywhere from 5-8 stages in your pipeline, depending on your process. It is best to keep your pipeline high level, and a bit more on the vague side. A basic example of stages could be ‘Intro,’ ‘Demo,’ ‘Follow Up,’ ‘Send Contract,’ ‘Receive Signed Contract’ and ‘Close Deal.’

That’s all there is to it! Once the pipeline has been set up, each time you go to create a new project or opportunity it will be listed in the ‘Pipeline’ dropdown for you to use. There is no limit to the number of pipelines you can create. If you have different processes depending on different programs or products you offer, you can build out separate pipelines for each one, and apply them accordingly. The sky’s the limit!

For Activity Sets:

  • On the first screen you will want to give your activity set a name. Hint: I recommend giving your activity set the same name as the pipeline stage it is going to be placed in. That makes it much easier to match them up when applying!
  • You will then want to check the box for ‘Opportunities’ or ‘Projects,’ depending on the type of pipeline this activity set is going to be applied to.
  • Lastly, hit the ‘Edit Activities’ link on the right to create your tasks/events within your activity set.

You’re doing great, we’re almost there! The last step is to actually apply your activity sets that you’ve created into the different stages of your pipeline. Let’s make this happen.

Adding Activity Sets to Pipelines:

  • Let’s jump back out to the main System Settings menu list and click back into ‘Pipelines.’ On this screen, find the pipeline you wish to add the activity set to and click ‘Edit Stages.’
  • On the stage editing screen, click the pencil icon next to the stage you wish to add the activity set to. You’ll find that the activity set column will become a dropdown. Use that dropdown to find the activity set you wish to add. Now you’ll remember why I recommended giving them the same name!
  • Go through all stages to plug in the different activity sets you’ll need. You may find that some stages do not require an activity set at all and that’s okay too!

Now that we’ve added our activity sets to our pipelines, we can see them in action! Let’s create a new ‘test’ opportunity or project, and apply the pipeline we’ve created. You’ll notice when applying the pipeline that you are able to see the tasks within the stage, as part of the activity set. Amazing! Without having to manually create tasks with each new opportunity or project, they now populate for you automatically so you know what you and your colleagues need to do in order to win the sale or complete the project.

 

Thank you all so much for participating in today’s discussion around streamlining your sales process! To recap, I wanted to leave you with some pro tips:

  • Pipelines are completely customizable. You build them specific to your business! Therefore, it is important to map out your entire sales process before developing your pipeline
  • If you have multiple sales processes depending on certain factors, you are welcome to create more than one pipeline and apply each accordingly
  • Keep your pipeline under 8 stages, the more high-level the better, as activity sets are where you can really dig into the details

 

What tips do you have for setting up pipelines and activity sets? If you’ve found a workflow that works for you, we’d love to hear it!

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Comments

31 comments
  • Hello Everyone! I'm so excited to get this started and can't wait to see what you all have to say about your own process with pipelines and activity sets and what you've learned. 

    We're a bit short staffed today, so I will try to get to all of your questions as soon as I can, but don't be alarmed if I am not able to respond right away. I promise I will respond to each of your questions!

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  • Curious if you have a sample of a "typical" sales process or best practices for defining a process for a services business. Or, is each company's products/services so very different that there cannot be a template?

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  • Im so lost about how to find this discussion.Is there a link? Or secret bookcase that I need to find? It is not very obvious how to join this training. please help!

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  • Hello Jill, great question! Insightly is geared toward small-to-medium businesses and we have over 950,000 users to date. Because of Insightly's flexible and customizable nature we do not have a "typical" sales process. However, this is a popular request! It is something we are considering putting together for different verticals or industries in the future. 

    Later on today I will be sharing a sample sales process and pipeline, so please stay tuned!

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  • Hello Wes, I'm sorry for the confusion! You have found the discussion- this is it! If you have questions for me on how to build out your sales process or work with pipelines, please let me know and I'll be happy to help. 

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  • So If we have a pipeline that is sales driven and one that is work product driven, what is the best way to setup multiple pipelines (sales)>(project)>(closeout)>(follow up sales/service)

    can the creation of a new pipeline be triggered by an ending event of a pipeline?

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  • Melissa, Hi

    Some of my opportunities seem to be missing the ability to be able to add a pipeline of tasks. Is this because I set them up before the pipeline process could be added (set some of them up well over 6m ago and two have just "woken up" - but I can't add the pipeline tasks I want to undertake

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  • So this is not a webinar or any kind of tips and tricks. Just typing questions with the hope of a quick response? BTW - it was REALLY difficult to get to this point. Signing in to Insightly didn't get me here. I had to sign up for Insightly Support, which took me since 8:10 to figure out.

     

     

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  • Also, what are the key differences between a contact and a lead.

    Should leads first be put in as contacts and then converted to leads.

    Or should contacts be more for vendors/internal company resources vs. leads being used for the revolving door of customers/potential customers etc

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  • Great questions, Wes! Looking forward to Melissa's suggestions about contacts vs. leads.

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  • Hi Melissa,

    I would love to use Insightly more, but the learning curve for me is huge.  The Insightly U videos seem to assume I'm already familiar with sales pipelines, etc.  There are big gaps in my knowledge, so I am unable to use Insightly to actually help me.  Are any, more basic, training modules in the works?

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  • Hi Gretchen! We're glad you still managed to find us! If you're interested in attending one of our live webinars or watching one of our webinar recordings, you can find them all listed here. You can also get there by clicking the Insightly Support logo at the top of this page. This will bring you back to the home page where you'll then click the "How-to Videos" icon. 

    Remember to stay signed in when you access the webinars page so you'll see all the webinars accessible by your plan. Thanks!

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  • Hi Wes & Matthew! Thanks for your great questions. I'll be getting to them shortly!

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  • FYI, everybody -- I'm leaving this screen open on my desktop to keep up with the conversation, but, need to refresh the window (F5 key) to see new comments. Seems to be working for me. I would think that voting on a comment  using the up/down arrows to the left of each is helpful to the staff, as well ...

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  • Hi there - I will be starting a new job tomorrow; any *insights* you can give about getting started with Insightly?

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  • Hi Paul! Not to worry! We've all started off where you are. :) It might be useful to attend one of our live webinars. There's one called Getting Started that will help fill in those gaps. Just be sure you've signed in to Insightly Support as our live webinar section is only visible to customers on paid plans.

    Also, our Knowledge Base section is loaded with lots of helpful FAQs. To give you an idea of what's in our Knowledge base, here are 2 articles related to my discussion: Using Pipelines and Creating an Activity Set.

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  • Hi Melissa, I'm waiting to see some samples of sales process and pipeline, to see how I can possibly adapt them to the sales process in my company.

    I know that this may not be the right place, however up to my experience so far with insightly, working with multiple users the inability to set the required fields when creating leads, contacts and opportunities is a big trouble. It's impossible to guarantee consistency of data when different users are involved .... if I still need to use a paper (or excel) list of checkpoints for the users, where is the advantage to use a CRM? I am really frustrated about so many missing features to make insightly really suitable for professional use

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  • Thanks, Jill! Votes are super helpful to me and the Insightly teamI I appreciate you being here!

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  • Hi Matthew - If you created a Pipeline after creating an Opportunity you should still be able to add it. Can you double check that the "For Opportunities" box for that pipeline is checked and that the pipeline contains stages? If so, the pipeline should be available in the dropdown when you're editing that Opportunity record. If you still don't see it, please include a screenshot and I'll be happy to take a look. :) Thanks!

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  • Hello Wes, 

    To address your first question: while you can create as many pipelines as you like, you can only apply ONE pipeline per opportunity or project, not multiple. Therefore, I would suggest setting up the sales-driven pipeline for your opportunities. If you win the sale, you can then convert the opportunity into a project, where you would apply your work-driven pipeline. 

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  • Wes, for your second question: 

    Leads are meant to be the primary starting point of entering data into Insightly from a sales perspective. Please enter all prospects as leads, and keep them there until they are qualified or marked as a dead lead (closed status). If the lead is interested in working with you and your company, you can use the 'Actions' menu within the lead to convert the lead into a true sales opportunity. 

    In this conversion process, Insightly will automatically create a new contact and a new organization for this now qualified lead. Essentially, your contacts are people you know- current clients, business partners and leads that have been qualified.

    I hope that helps!

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  • Hi amy! Congrats on the new job! I can tell you're going to hit the ground running. Depending on how much time you have before your job starts, I would recommend brushing up on the following:

    1. Our quick 10-minute Introduction to Insightly video

    2. Our 4-part Getting Started Guide article series

    3. Watching our Ready, Set Go, archived webinar

    When you start your job, keep these resources on hand:

    Getting Started with Insightly Personal Checklist

    Our Knowledge Base of useful FAQs

    Our How-to video library

    The best of luck!

     

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  • Melissa - thank you so much, that definitely helps.

    VVV Early funnel = Lead

    VV Mid/Late funnel = Opportunity

    V Won = Contact

     

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  • Glad to help Wes!

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  • Here's what's coming up next:

    11am: Intro to Pipelines and Activity Sets, Why Should I Use Them?

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  • I'm trying to make an Activity Set work for an Event.   I have many tasks starting 60 days in ADVANCE of the event and a few wrap up tasks AFTER the event.

    I've tried again and again to make just 1 activity set work, with the Event Date being set, but can't make it happen. I'm sure there's a way, but it's beyond me.

    Can you help?

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  • Is there a way to follow Insider discussions and get one email summary per day? It's a lot more active than other Insightly discussions, and my Inbox is busy enough. Thx.
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  • Hello Jan, happy to help!

    Insightly's activity sets are based on task dates being set up 'After the Start Date' of the activity set or 'Before the End Date' of the activity set. Unfortunately there is no way to make some dates due 'After the Start Date' and some due 'After the End Date.' They must all be based on the start date, or all based on the end date. 

    The only way to accomplish this would be to build the event into the actual activity set itself, as activity sets can be made up of both tasks and events. Then, put tasks before and after that event, accordingly. 

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  • Hi Don! Thanks for that feedback! We're thrilled there's been so much discussion but we totally understand that you don't want to be inundated with email updates. 

    While Zendesk allows some choice when it comes to following a major topic (like "Product Feedback - web app"), there's no option to receive only one email notification at the end of the day when you're following a single post, like this one. Although it's a fabulous idea!

    That said, every Insightly Insider discussion will have new content posted 3 times during the day: 8 AM PST, 11 AM PST and 2 PM PST. So if you don't want to follow a post you can now decide when it makes the most sense to return and catch up on tips from our experts and comments from other customers.

    We'll also archive every discussion under Discussions and Highlights so another idea is to just follow that topic and then go into My Activity > Following and change it to Following only "New posts" (versus New posts and comments). Hope this helps!  

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  • I'm so lost. I created a custom field in my contacts to record sales and commissions. But I don't seem to be able to run reports based on those numbers. Do you have to create an opportunity for each contact in order to capture the sales amount? Is there a way to record sales and commissions?

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