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When is a Sales Opportunity an Opportunity in Your CRM?


Sales force automation is one of the three biggest reasons to implement a customer relationship management system, but some of the business rules for tracking sales are not universal to all businesses.  For instance, CRM products such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce center on tracking sales opportunities.  How you define opportunities for your business may be different from how other companies track their sales.

A person or company alone is not an opportunity.  They might be a prospect for you, but to be an opportunity you must define what it is that they might purchase. 

Some companies do not enter opportunities into their CRM until they are qualified.  Qualification means determining a basis for projecting that something will be sold.  Usually it requires that you determine what will be sold, its value and the timeframe for the purchase.  Other CRM users enter opportunities before they are qualified and leave the estimated value and project close date blank until the opportunity is qualified.

What about leads?  You may want to treat leads differently depending on their source.  A customer filling in a Contact Us form on your website may represent a better lead than a list of attendees at a trade show because they have actively expressed interest in your offering.  You could start every opportunity as a lead and then convert to an opportunity, or skip the lead stage entirely.

A strict or loose definition of opportunities will affect your sales reports.  If you include opportunities of low and high quality, you will have a higher number and projected revenue for opportunities, but you will end up with a lower percentage of wins.  On the other hand, if you wait for a lead to be more qualified, your win percentage will increase, but you will not be able to use your CRM to discuss these opportunities in your sales meetings, and you cannot nurture prospects that you do not enter in your CRM.

Regardless of how you choose to define opportunities, leads, and the qualification process, you must ensure that everyone in your organization follows the same rules.  If they think of these key concepts differently from one another you are not likely to end up with consistent CRM data.  It will be difficult to compare one sales person or group to another if opportunities are treated differently.



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