Keeping the number of Stages in the Sales Process to a minimum is usually the way to go. The less time sales professionals spend managing their CRM system the better.
However, there are times when a sales organization’s performance can be significantly improved by temporarily putting more Sales Stages into the Sales Process.
Example 1: Sales Stage “Fall-Off”
You might have evidence (you can track it in your Pipeliner CRM Visual Dashboard) that Deals are consistently falling off at a certain Sales Stage. This means that there’s some kind of misalignment.
Drop Off Rate at Sales Stage 2 (in Blue) Signals Misalignment
An example is dealing with cumbersome multi-stage Proposals.
Proposals may go through 1, 2 or even 3 rounds. In cases where you know your opportunities are not making it through a Proposal Stage, then it will be beneficial to have a Sales Stage for each round.
A one-step proposal Sales Process would look like this: “Proposal Submitted,” while in a multiple-step Proposal Sales Process, the Sales Stages might include: “Proposal Received”; “Proposal Sent”; “Proposal Round 2”; “Proposal Round 3+”.
As you analyze data, you may see that the second round is where you are losing the most opportunities. Powered with this information you know where to dig deeper to improve your success rates.
Example 2: Undefined Sales Stages and Process
If your Sales Process is undefined, when you move to improve sales performance, the solution often proposed is to conduct blanket sales training. Courses such as “The Eight Steps to Sales” would seem to cover everything. Wrong.
When sales training is done in this way, the results have limited positive impact. On the other hand, targeted sales training and coaching can lead to significant improvements in sales performance.
To avoid this costly trap, take the time to first create a detailed Sales Process. Consolidate the Sales Stages that you are 100% confident are successful and leave the others to the side (but keep them handy for future “Sales Stage editing.”)
Analyze the results after an appropriate period of time (this depends on your business) and then choose your course of action.
Perhaps it is not sales training you need but improvement in the supporting processes around your sales organization.
Once you have pinpointed the Sales Stages in the overall Sales Process that have been holding back performance, you can take corrective action. After verifying the improved performance, you can reduce the Stages to the optimal number.
Utilizing a flexible and easily administered CRM system is one of the most important tools for all levels of management. Managers will have the flexibility to quickly react or, better yet, be proactive as their business changes.
Sales professionals will benefit because they can see their individual performance more accurately and those underperforming in certain Sales Stages can receive the targeted coaching they need from their managers.
This changes the manager-to-sales professional conversation from …
“You have to close more business! What is preventing you from reaching quota?!”
“I see you are doing a great job of guiding your opportunities through the first four Stages of the Sales Process. Good job! The fifth Stage looks like an area we can improve on so you can win more deals. Let’s talk about how I can help you here…”
After all, sales managers with the right tools become very effective sales coaches!
- Step by Step: Creating a Solid Sales Process
- Streamline the Sales Process
- Five Characteristics of a Robust Sales Process