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What are the Sales Pipeline Opportunity Stages?

The world of B2B marketing and sales revolves around creating opportunities. Both teams are collectively responsible for identifying the best ones and converting them.

A sales cycle materializes when prospects with the potential to become an opportunity are found. Every new account you find follows a path and crosses levels to reach the sales pipeline opportunity stage.

Let’s see what the sales pipeline opportunity stages are.

What is the sales pipeline opportunity stage?

A sales pipeline begins with finding the prospects, the potential customers. Once you engage with them and convey your product details, they turn into a lead. Leads can be hot, warm, or cold. Hot leads are better prospects than the other two. For example, an existing happy client makes for a better lead and a stronger opportunity than a new client who’s never been approached before.

Leads who know your products and company well and express their intent to proceed with the discussions level up to become contacts. The contacts who want to invest in your product qualify as opportunities in the sales pipeline. So, it takes a lot of processing to turn a prospect into an opportunity.

Traits of a sales pipeline opportunity

Each opportunity has three traits that a sales and marketing look out for:

The Need: What’s that pain point that can compel the customer to look out for solutions? If you know the answer, you can begin the discussion by answering a critical question: Why should the customer listen to you?

Identify the need, and you will know if there is an opportunity here. If not, it is a dull prospect that need not be pursued.

The Benefit: Not every prospect might be interested in resolving their pain points. But opportunity lies where they are looking for a solution.

The Qualification: If your prospect is undergoing a financial crisis and will not be able to buy your product, engaging with them does not make sense. Similarly, if your prospect is a small company and your product entertains enterprises with hundreds of employees, chasing them doesn’t make sense.

Once acknowledged, an opportunity undergoes further refinement to become a sale.

Substages in a Sales Opportunity Stage

Usually, the CRM opportunity stages have the following substages:

Pitching and Proposal: You connect with the client, conduct a demo, and pitch your services.

Decision Making: This stage involves follow-ups with the client after the product presentation and the initial round of discussions. This stage decides which side of the court the ball lies on.

Negotiation: Both sides negotiate the list of services and the price tags attached to them.

Deal Closure: Whether you win or lose, the deal closes either way.

The probability of each new client turning into a sale increases as they level up in the sales pipeline. So, a fresh prospect has a success probability of up to 10%. By the negotiation stage, it has a 90% chance of ending in a win. But once the decision is made, the odds become 100% for closed deals. However, only 10-15% of the opportunities end in a sale. That’s why a salesperson needs to nurture every opportunity to complete the cycle successfully.

How to create a productive sales pipeline opportunity stage

Chart the Sales Process

Your opportunity stages must reflect the journey of the sale, not the customer. A client’s journey may differ if, for example, you approach an existing client to pitch a new product or an upgrade. So you must first chart the stepwise sales process and then create the qualifying stage for an opportunity.

Set the Entry and Exit Points

You must have the criteria and performance indicators to push every new prospect across stages. Each prospect must complete specific tasks before moving on to the next level. In other words, their entry and exit criteria must be clearly defined without any overlapping or ambiguity.

Set the Probability Percentages

An opportunity’s chances to become a sale grow as it moves through the sales process. That’s why assigning a percentage to each stage is essential to understand its probability of closing into a win. You can also use past data to evaluate the success ratio of each step.

Ensure Timely Updating

All these efforts mean nothing if CRM is not updated timely. Therefore, salespeople must renew the data regularly to ensure accurate analytics.

Every client presents a new prospect that should be tapped but may or may not be pursued. The onus lies with the sales to analyze and identify the ones who have the potential to grow into a long-term business opportunity and not let them go. After all, well-nourished opportunities drive revenues.

Learn how to identify an opportunity and build a process for successful handoff.