Aligning Sales Deal Stages with Your Organization

In a recent Advisor, we talked about deal stages and understanding their different meanings. In today’s Advisor, we share how to align deal stages with your organization.

One piece of the puzzle in optimizing a sales flow that doesn’t just result in quality leads but quality wins as well, is understanding the deal stages throughout the sales process. The other piece is aligning those stages to work in conjunction with internal processes and your buyer’s journey as it relates to your specific organization. It’s about disseminating the process across teams in a way that makes sense and is easily adoptable.

Thought needs to be put behind which departments become looped in at various stages, and each deal stage needs to be adhered to under a central definition. After all, the process won’t prove successful if each sales representative picks and chooses only the stages that work best for him or her. Each step must properly align with pre-existing activities and processes within the organization so as to better connect people with why they’re important, and how they’ll be measured against key company metrics.

Here are some best practices for making sure all key players are aligned when activating deal stages throughout the sales process.

Avoid Ambiguity

As mentioned above, there’s no room for uncertainty when assigning deal stages and each individual who touches these stages along the way should have a clear understanding on how they were reached. One way to help ensure this is to require necessary descriptions. Why was a deal lost? What are the commonly understood reasons for losing a deal as it relates to the product or service being sold?

Another example—at each stage, they must be properly marked as completed or task in progress. If you’re at the presentation stage and have labeled a task in progress as “Demo,” what does that really mean? Are you preparing a demo? Was the demo scheduled to be given to the prospective client? The more details provided, the less likely confusion is to arise and create frustration or mistakes to happen along the way.

Communicate Across Teams

When it comes to a CRM, individuals outside of sales (i.e., marketing, accounting, organizational leaders such as the CEO, CFO) are likely to touch part of the process at one stage or another. It’s not always just the sales team contributing to a deal closing after all. Those in operations come into play as well.

Based on how key company metrics are measured and whether it’s appropriate for certain players to be looped in, in order to advance stages along, activities within a CRM may need to be assigned to other departments. An example of this might be the marketing team, who needs to track and trace leads as they’re being converted into sales, to help determine which outlets they’re pursuing to invest resources in. Understand which groups need to be incorporated at which stages of the process and from there, the sales team can determine how to best communicate with each through the CRM on next steps at each stage.

Customize the Pipeline

Deal stages are able to be customized based on the setup of your business model or team-specific preferences. This customization comes in the form of labeling your own deal stages and determining probabilities of sale based on prior history. Fitting these features to the unique situation of your business is the best way to ensure the pipeline functions as it should. Just make sure that each deal stage, no matter what it’s chosen to be called, represents factual, inspectable, and buyer-centric characteristics and remains consistent in properly representing the progress of deals across teams.