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  • Writer's pictureMichael Venman

Gone Bad - Lead Status' and Opportunity Stages

The most important work you can do as a team is decide on how you manage the definitions of a company's progression through your Sales Process.

In Salesforce, a name will come in as a Lead (which represents a "business card") and is converted into an Account, Contact, and Opportunity after being qualified. Each Lead has a Status which represents it's progression pre-sales and Opportunities represent qualified chances to win business after they've been handed to an Account Executive.

There are many quick wins to improve your Lead Status/Opportunity Stage results, especially if you are doing any of the following:

Too many Lead Status' or Stages

The first cardinal sin we see in many implementations is the overcomplicating these values. If there are too many Status', or they overlap, end users will be confused and this IMPORTANT value will be set to the wayside.

If you have more than 7 Lead Status' (including Nurture and Disqualified) you probably have too many. Focus on a list that is clear to your team and defines the lifecycle and contage stage. A solid example of a Lead Status picklist would be the following:

  • Pre-Sales

  • Open

  • Marketing Qualified

  • In Progress

  • Contacted

  • Qualified

  • Nurture

  • Disqualified

Poor Definitions not commonly shared

I was called into a consulting project with a 200MM+ Revenue business after another consultant had dropped the ball. I knew this person very well, and knew he was an expert, so I was a bit surprised. After talking with the CEO for an hour, understanding his business and challenges he was hoping to overcome through our work, it was due to the reports we'd created not accurately meeting his expectations.

So I asked him, "When do your Sales Rep's create an Opportunity?" He gave me a concrete and confident answer.

I called his Sales Manager, "When do your Sales Rep's create an Opportunity?" He also gave me a confident answer that was different than that of the CEO's.

Finally, I called their Best Sales Person and asked them... he responded, "I don't know man. Whenever I feel like there should be one?"

This is when I adopted the guiding phrase for all my projects.

The technical solution can be perfectly executed, but if it's not used correctly it's not the right solution.

For that reason, it's important to design Entry and Exit Criteria for Lead Status' and Opportunity Stages. Here is an example of entry criteria with Opportunity Stages:

  • SDR Qualified -> SDR recognizes there is an Opportunity with BANT Criteria

  • Identified -> AE recognizes there is an Opportunity with BANT Criteria

  • Solution -> Actively selecting and designing the solution with the customer.

  • Proposal -> Identified Solution, actively working through Proposal Generation.

  • Negotiation -> Agreed upon Solution, Price Negotiations and Proposal Feedback

  • Closed Won -> Signed Contract

  • Closed Lost

Not using Reason Picklists

The communication between Sales, Marketing, and Success is pivotal and there are several picklists you should install today if you don't have them in your system. They include:

  • Lead

    • Nurture Reason

    • Disqualified Reason

  • Contact

    • Nurture Reason

    • Disqualified Reason

  • Opportunity

    • Loss Reason

    • Won Reason (great feedback for Product)

No Process Reinforcement

Trainings Suck. I get it.

That said, you get what you INSPECT, and not what EXPECT when it comes to Revenue Operations. Making sure that the team inside the system is using (and is expecting) values with definitions is imperative. Here are some options to ensure that everything is up to date:

  1. Bi-weekly checkups with Marketing and Sales on Lead Status infrastructure.

  2. Validation Rules for expected fields at a particular Stage or Status.

  3. Pipeline Reviews with Sales Leadership and Reps to align on Stage Values.

  4. Monthly analysis of close rates by stage to verify %

  5. etc...


There is no easy solution to this, as often it's creating change in an environment where there hasn't been any in a while. At The Sales Nerd we are experts in having these conversations and coming to a consensus across each of your teams. With 10+ years of experience working in CRM's and 50+ projects, we have the know-how to design the correct GTM Salesforce+ process that will get each person on your team what they need for success.


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