Defining sales process stages with Salesforce CRM

Sales leaders like love having their key sales reports and dashboards displayed on their Salesforce homepage. Seeing their closed sales value, pipeline by stage and sales leader report gives you an instant understanding of the position your business is right now with regards to the revenue generation effort.

A question that we pose to our clients at the beginning of each project is, how do you define your sales opportunity stages? We find that each company is different, and each industry has characteristics that influence the definition of how we break up the key stages of the sales process. We'll take a look at some of the most common formats that we have seen. Remember, one of the reasons that we are concerned about the sales process stages is to enable better sales and revenue forecasting.

The stages of a simple sales process - 

1. Prospecting: This is the stage where you are working on early stage, 'top of the sales funnel' activity to attract initial interest in your product or service from a prospective client.

2. Qualifying: In the qualifying stage, your sales team are checking that the client is satisfies the key qualification questions that all sales people work on,

  • Does this client have the budget for this project?
  • Is this contact the decision maker and budget holder? Who else in their business needs to be sold to, and what are their roles (technical evaluator, end user, purchasing etc.)
  • Is there a defined or expressed date for when the order should be placed?
  • Does our product or service substantially meet the needs of this client?
  • How will be buyer evaluate the bid from each potential vendor?

3. Closing: Sales opportunities that are categorised as 'Closing' indicates that we are in the short-list for the contract, and working on answering the final objections from the client, or clarifying any last minute misunderstanding of the features or benefit of your proposal. This is the 'bottom end of the sales funnel', and where your business will generate the revenue in this month or quarter.

4. Closed / Won: Be careful to avoid 'happy ears' at this phase of the sales process as there is still plenty of work to be done. "You've got the job' doesn't mean that you open up Salesforce1 and move the deal to "Closed Won' in your Opportunity record. Instead use some simple but hard rules to define when the deal is closed

  • Your contract or agreement is signed, stamped and back in your hands with the terms for the scope of work, price and payment terms all laid out
  • The payment terms are satisfied, this may involve the receipt of a pre-payment or post - dated cheque up front.

5. Closed / Lost: We all lose deals unfortunately, it's not the end of the world as there is still plenty of value to our business at this phase in the sales process. If you've lost the deal, make sure that you find out why you've lost the deal.

  • Who did we lose the deal to?
  • What was the reason that deal was given to a competitor?
  • Is there any feedback from the client on how we can improve our proposal?
  • If we lost the deal because the deal never went ahead, take the opportunity to review the activity history to see where we didn't qualify the deal out earlier.

At Tenacre, we normally set up some standard pick-list fields on the Salesforce opportunity record page to capture the reasons for Closed / Lost opportunities. This information, when reviewed at the end of the month can provide you with great insight to the competitive environment (competing firms, your pricing, features and benefits, customer perception etc.) that you operate in.