Sales Pipeline Management Tools: Pros, Cons and Must-Have Features

By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Feb 8 2024 read

Pipeline is potential.

All the budding relationships in your sales pipeline are major opportunities for long-term profitability. But converting them requires a winning sales strategy supported by foundational tools.

A pipeline management platform is one of the most impactful software tools for sales teams. The right one will empower your team and ensure they hit every touchpoint. It can also give you priceless insights into your upcoming revenue and alert you to possible issues.

We’re covering everything you need to know about incorporating this potent software into your sales process. You’ll learn:

What Is Sales Pipeline Management?

Sales pipeline management is the process of tracking and overseeing every stage of a lead’s journey through your sales process, from first contact to final sale. A healthy sales pipeline gives a clear, detailed overview of where potential deals stand and what needs to be done to move them forward.

A systematic approach to lead management provides sales reps with the insight and structure to convert prospects into loyal customers.

CRM vs. Sales Pipeline Management

It’s common to confuse customer relationship management (CRM) with sales pipeline management, but they both serve distinct roles in the sales process.

CRM software is designed mainly for contact management. It stores all your contact records, ideally with custom fields and details beyond basic contact information. CRM tools may include sales activity tracking, lead generation and other functionality, but they’re not exclusively used for sales.

On the other hand, a sales pipeline management tool is more focused. Used for tracking and propelling sales through various pipeline stages, it hones in on the step-by-step.

Think of a CRM for the “who” and “what” of your customer interactions and a sales pipeline platform as a means of illuminating the “how” and “when.”

7 Benefits of Using a Sales Pipeline Tool

Understanding the direct advantages of having a sales pipeline tool is paramount. Here, we explore seven pivotal benefits these platforms can offer your firm.

1. A defined sales process

With a sales pipeline tool, you can create a true sales process. By following clearly defined stages, your team can develop a consistent, proven approach to selling.

This structure helps train new hires, but also ensures everyone knows what’s expected at each stage of the sale, leading to more predictable outcomes. A defined sales process also minimizes confusion and overlap, allowing employees to focus on their strengths and efficiently move leads through the pipeline.

The impact: An advertising agency might use this structured approach to move a lead seamlessly from initial contact to a creative brief, then to proposal, negotiation and, finally, campaign launch.

2. Expedited lead generation

A robust pipeline tool doesn’t just manage leads; it helps you generate them. Efficiently capturing and organizing information about potential quality leads allows you to focus your efforts on the most promising prospects.

Less time sifting through data, more time engaging with future clients! Plus, the ability to quickly identify and act on the most qualified leads can significantly shorten the overall sales cycle.

The impact: A consulting firm can use a sales pipeline tool to quickly identify which prospects have the most potential for their specialized services, allowing them to allocate their resources more effectively.

3. Efficient and effective follow-up

Follow-up is where many sales teams falter. With a tool made specifically for supporting and bulking out your pipeline, you can more easily send email campaigns and track other types of outreach.

No lead is forgotten, and potential customers receive the right message at the right time. Automated reminders and tasks ensure that follow-ups happen consistently.

The impact: An accounting firm can set up automated follow-up emails for leads interested in tax services, ensuring timely communication during the busy tax season.

4. A shortened sales cycle

With all team members having clear visibility into the status of various leads, coordination becomes more straightforward.

Streamlining the path from lead to deal saves you both time and money. A well-orchestrated process means fewer meetings and check-ins since everyone can see the progress and next steps.

The impact: A management consulting business can use a sales pipeline tool to rapidly move leads through assessment, proposal and engagement phases, reducing the time from first contact to signed contract.

5. Superior customer relationship management

While CRM software provides a foundation, a sales pipeline tool enhances your ability to manage and close deals.

By understanding where each prospect is in the buying process and what they need to move forward, your team can provide personalized, timely interactions that build trust and drive sales. Not only does this lead to more sales, but also higher client satisfaction.

The impact: An IT business can use pipeline management features to track a lead’s specific needs and previous interactions, tailoring their pitch to address the prospect’s unique pain points and preferences.

6. Reliable forecasting

With a visual representation of your pipeline, revenue and sales forecasting can be much more accurate and reliable. Clear metrics and analytics provide insights into which deals are likely to close, which are at risk and how the overall health of your sales pipeline is doing.

The impact: An MSP can use forecasting to predict their monthly recurring revenue from contracts, helping them make informed decisions about investments and growth.

7. More valuable deals

Perhaps the most important benefit of this kind of software is the opportunity to focus on your most valuable deals. The potential value and likelihood of closing are vital indicators of where your team should invest their time and resources. Prioritizing high-value deals ensures that your team’s efforts are aligned with the company’s financial goals.

The impact: An engineering firm can use sales pipeline management to prioritize projects to not only have a higher value but also an increased success rate, ensuring they allocate their expert resources to the most profitable and achievable projects.

Key Features of Pipeline Management Software

Every second counts in sales. The right tool can transform an overwhelming amount of tasks, data and goals into a streamlined and efficient process. 

As you explore the following key features of pipeline management software, consider how each can revolutionize your team's operations, turning complexity into clarity and inefficiency into productivity.


Automation is essential for many parts of your business, especially sales. Marketing may be the starting point of your revenue-driving strategy, but sales is the stage where the proverbial rubber meets the road. If you’re stuck dealing with manual data entry, you’re at a disadvantage.

Sales automation streamlines tasks such as creating new client records and sales, monitoring the status of quotes and reaching out to contacts who have gone cold. With the right platform, you can correct existing bottlenecks and build workflows that support your pipeline goals.

Why it’s useful: Automation frees up your team’s time and mental bandwidth by handling mundane, repetitive tasks.

Lead management

With pipeline management software, you’ll no longer need to juggle spreadsheets and other disjointed tools to keep track of leads. It centralizes all critical information from the moment a potential customer fills out a web form. The software also categorizes your leads based on specific criteria and assigns them to the appropriate team member.

Why it’s useful: Centralizing lead data allows for better tracking, quicker response times and a more personalized approach to each potential customer — meaning increased conversion rates.


You have to know exactly what’s going on with each sale to identify trends and sticking points and adjust your strategy accordingly. Many pipeline tracking platforms offer comprehensive metrics to give you a real-time view of both your sales funnel and current sales performance.

While not all platforms have the same insights and reporting capabilities, they might show you:

  • Conversion rates: Percentage of leads that move from one stage to the next
  • Average deal size: The average size of closed deals over a certain period
  • Sales cycle length: Total time it takes for a lead to move through the entire pipeline
  • Win/loss rate: Number of won deals compared to lost deals over a given time frame

Why they’re useful: Reliable data is the key to establishing and optimizing your sales process for better results.


Most pipeline management software includes customizable email templates for various stages of the sales process. Whether it’s a follow-up email, a proposal or a thank-you note, having a set of ready-to-use templates ensures that your team’s communication is not only quick and efficient but also consistent and professional.

Why they’re useful: Templates save time and maintain a consistent brand voice no matter which salespeople are reaching out. Every piece of communication reflects the qualities and professionalism of your firm.


Integrating pipeline management tools with other platforms, such as email and calendar apps or marketing automation tools, creates a seamless flow of information. Some platforms even offer an open API to allow you to build custom integrations.

While the ability to integrate is helpful, it’s also important not to bank on integrations to make a solution work. You’ll risk relying on too many client work tools, counteracting the added efficiency you might gain from the sales platform.

Why they’re useful: A well-implemented integration eliminates the need for constant app switching, thus reducing the risk of errors and increasing efficiency.

How To Pick a Sales Pipeline Management Tool

Adopting new technology is a powerful way to drive sales, but the vetting process is something you should take your time with. Keep the following three tips top of mind as you look into the specific platforms listed later on.

1. Map out your sales process

It won’t be helpful to jump into a new platform without a sense of what you do now and what you need the platform to help with.

Don’t have a defined sales process? Start with answering these questions:

  • What are the key activities, decision points and obstacles you encounter in a typical sale?
  • Are there stages where leads tend to drop off?
  • Which repetitive tasks are consuming too much of your team’s time?

This simple exercise will give you a clear picture of what you need the tool to do. For example, if you notice leads often get stuck in the proposal stage, you might look for a platform with a client portal that allows you to see when the prospect has viewed a document and give them the ability to comment directly from the portal.

2. Evaluate cost vs. value

The cost of tech isn’t just its price tag. It also includes the time and resources you invest in implementation and ongoing training.

Its value is in the time it saves, sales it helps close and insights it provides. Weighing these factors can be tricky if you’ve never used a sales tool before. Make sure you evaluate direct and indirect costs and benefits.

Direct costs are things like the subscription fee or price of training sessions, while indirect costs might be the time required to train your team and the effort of setting up custom integrations.

Direct benefits include features that save time or increase conversions. An indirect benefit could be improved customer support and satisfaction due to better follow-up.

Consider each tool’s scalability and the hidden costs, such as additional charges for support. The ideal platform will offer maximum value for a reasonable cost.

3. Take it for a test drive

Most software vendors offer free trials or demos, which are invaluable for assessing how well a platform fits your needs.

Pay close attention to the user interface and ease of use. Involving different team members can help you get diverse perspectives on the effectiveness of the tool — and any pain points they anticipate.

Remember: A tool might be perfect for another business but not the right fit for yours. This decision is unique to your sales approach and business goals. Spend the time you need and ask every question before committing.

Best Sales Pipeline Management Software

Curious what’s available? There are many pipeline management tools out there, but we’re giving you a glimpse at five of the best platforms for this purpose. Click below to see the features, as well as the pros and cons of each:


accelo logo

Accelo is a sales automation platform and then some. Unlike limited pipeline management tools, it connects all stages of client work from prospect to payment.

Designed to help professional services firms improve efficiency and profitability, Accelo gives teams the power to manage client relationships from prospect to payment in one unified space.


  • Custom workflows to automate and streamline your sales process
  • Accessible sales intelligence, including sales funnel visualization
  • Detailed project plans in the quoting stage
  • One-click quote-to-project conversion


  • Not limited to one industry or stage of client work, making it customizable for all service businesses
  • Open API allowing for flexibility in building advanced and custom integrations


  • The platform may be too robust for small businesses seeking only sales functions
  • It might be too much for teams of under five people


Accelo offers four pricing plans that scale with your business. The Business, Professional and Advanced tiers provide a range of features to help growing businesses manage client information, tasks, communication, retainers, tickets and workflows. The Elite tier provides complete access to the entire range of client work features, premium support and additional benefits.

Read how Vortex Fire Consulting used Accelo to track sales opportunities, convert quotes to projects and increase won sales by 20%.

HubSpot Sales Hub

Hubspot logo

HubSpot Sales Hub is a pipeline management tool that provides real-time visibility into your firm’s sales pipeline. Built on the popular HubSpot CRM platform, it provides a centralized space for managing contacts, driving sales engagement and monitoring sales performance.


  • Intuitive contact management
  • Personalized prospecting
  • Lead management, including nurturing, scoring and automated alerts and tasks
  • In-depth deal tracking


  • Free subscription option with CRM essentials
  • Expansive workflow tools



HubSpot Sales has four pricing tiers for different business sizes and needs:

  • Free: (No automation or analytics)
  • Starter: Starting at $18 per month
  • Professional: Starting at $450 per month
  • Enterprise: Starting at $1,500 per month


keap logo

Keap combines CRM, sales and marketing automation, contact management and e-commerce capabilities. Their primary focus is helping small businesses manage client relationships.

Its tools offer a wide range of capabilities beyond the typical CRM, including appointment setting, landing page and email templates.


  • Lead management, including lead nurturing, scoring and automated sales alerts
  • Social media marketing, including social profile integrations
  • Campaign management, including calendars and event marketing
  • Reporting and analytics


  • Users report the platform supports increased lead generation 
  • Marketing automation capabilities create a consistent customer experience 


  • There is no option to remove or hide existing tabs — even with customization
  • Some features, including the mobile app and SMS messaging options, are only available in limited regions


Keap has three pricing tiers:

  • Pro: $159 per month for 2 users and 1,500 contacts
  • Max: $229 per month for 3 users and 2,500 contacts
  • Ultimate: $279 per month for 3 users and 2,500 contacts


pipedrive logo

Pipedrive is a CRM with additional sales-focused features, including lead segmentation and a customizable pipeline. Individualized sales stages and activity reminders support smooth workflows and uninterrupted conversations with leads. Other features include document management and email marketing.


  • Specialized team management
  • Detailed reports, including deal tracking, conversion rate by lead source and revenue forecasting
  • Embeddable forms to manage inbound leads
  • Tools for tracking team performance and setting goals


  • Not as complex as some larger CRMs, so easier to implement and train users
  • Sales automation and tips from their AI-powered Sales Assistant 


  • One user notes that the platform lacks popular integrations
  • It is not connected to the whole client journey via project management, billing or other essential work management features


Pipedrive offers five pricing plans:

  • Essential: $14.90 per user per month
  • Advanced: $27.90 per user per month
  • Professional: $49.90 per user per month
  • Power: $64.90 per user per month
  • Enterprise: $99 per user per month


salesforce logo

Salesforce is a web-based CRM solution that helps companies manage their customers, partners and employees. The platform has multiple features and products that can scale, including its Sales Cloud.


  • Sales automation, including customer data management, workflows and contract management with built-in AI
  • Advanced pipeline management
  • Customizable KPIs and signals
  • Reporting and analytics, including forecasting and pipeline visualization


  • Ability to automate simple tasks like creating automatic email alerts for time-heavy items like filling out orders 
  • Fully customizable, with options to add custom fields and tabs, create email templates and build reporting dashboards


  • The cost is often higher than other sales CRM options and increases with customizations and integrations 
  • It may be too complex for smaller businesses


Salesforce Sales Cloud pricing is as follows:

  • Starter Suite: $25 per user per month
  • Professional: $80 per user per month
  • Enterprise: $165 per user per month
  • Unlimited: $330 per user per month
  • Unlimited+: $500 per user per month

Drive More Revenue for Your Small Business

As you contemplate the future of your sales process and customer relationships, think carefully about your tech stack. A pipeline management tool invests in your team’s productivity, key revenue streams and, ultimately, your business’s success.

Weighing cost against value, you’ll likely discover that consolidation with a robust platform that does more than manage sales will give you the greatest ROI.

Book a demo of Accelo to learn why sales pipeline management is easier and more effective when it’s intuitively integrated with all your client work stages.


About the Author


Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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