A good sales process not only helps the sales team with opportunity qualification, assessment and planning, but also supports good governance. A key aspect of sales governance in most organisations is the opportunity lifecycle, usually defined by a linear progression of stages, e.g. Suspect, Prospect, Qualified, Business Win, and Closed Won. If your organisation uses a CRM system (who doesn’t these days?), then these stages will be hard-wired into that system, and will be key indicators feeding up into management reports and dashboards upon which forecasts and critical business decisions will be made.
So how does this relate to the Essential Sales Process? The key here is the definition of the stages within the opportunity lifecycle. If the stages are poorly defined, then assigning a specific stage to any given opportunity will be difficult, sometimes requiring guesswork or “force-fitting” the opportunity to a stage which it doesn’t neatly belong in. This will result in headaches for the sales reps, poor forecast accuracy and consistency, and frustration all round.
The Essential Sales Process provides a simple solution for clear definition of opportunity lifecycle stages, in terms of the states or maturity of each of the seven aspects of an opportunity. (See earlier blog post for description of these aspects). The beauty of this is that you can use whatever opportunity lifecycle you like – you simply need to map the lifecycle stages to the required states of each of the aspects of the Essential Sales Process. Each state provides a checklist based on verifiable outcomes, thus providing a very detailed and rigorous definition of the lifecycle stage. Below is an example where we have defined a simple sales opportunity lifecycle in terms of the minimum required states of each aspect.
By defining your opportunity lifecycle in this way, you will achieve a very strong alignment between your sales governance, forecasting and reporting, and the day-to-day qualification, assessment and planning activities of the sales reps. This will lead to much more effective communication and collaboration between all members of the sales team, and help drive increased sales for your business.