A sales process is just moving people through a pipeline.

There’s a typical progress that people go through, on the journey from stranger to customer. It might start with filling out a form on your website, or giving you a call, or requesting a quote, or walking through your door.

Unless you sell on impulse – you meet, pitch, and close in the same meeting – your new customers take some time to go through the 4-Step Marketing Cycle of Know, Like, Trust, and Buy.

know like buy trust

(I talk about these 4 steps in my book, Marketing Yourself. If you don’t have my book yet, you can buy it here.)

Keeping track of lots of people (and lots of relationships) can be a huge challenge. I like to set up a simple system that has all the information I need, where I need to see it.

For people who are allergic to CRMs, I recommend using Trello to make four lists for four stages of your pipeline:

  1. Leads
  2. Prospects
  3. Suspects
  4. Customers

This gives you a simple strategy for closing new clients. When people you know are qualified to do business with you, add their name to your Leads list. Once they volunteer that they’re interested in engaging with you commercially, drag their Trello card to the Prospect list. If they’ve got a proposal and they are considering a buying decision, move them to Suspects, and after they pay you, add them to your list of Customers.

For each list, develop a checklist for what moves someone from one stage to the next. When you want to work on business development, looking for clients means you look at your checklist, and just do that for everyone in the list.

If you have more than 4 stages, it’s easy to add a new list in Trello. You can add all sorts of information to any individual card – attachments, comments, forwarded emails, labels, due dates, and more – and drag and drop everything in a Kanban interface.

Here’s my system (no opt-in, no purchase) – PipelineTemplate.com

You can see me demonstrate how to use this Trello board template in this 9-minute video:


Selling yourself in addition to marketing yourself is challenging enough. Make it easy on yourself where you can by setting up a good system.