Stuck In the Funnel? One Easy Forecasting Fix

Almost every sales team owns a CRM system such as Salesforce.com these days. And yes, we said “owns,” because while many businesses possess a CRM system, many do not use it correctly. Or at all. If you’re using yours to accomplish the same thing you used to do with spreadsheets, raise your hand … and know that you have plenty of company.

You had the best of intentions when you committed to the purchase and set up the software, but something went wrong along the way. What to do? Here’s some advice.

Probably the biggest roadblock to success that we encounter on a regular basis is a lack of clarity around the stages in the sales funnel. Does every sales rep really know what specific actions have to occur for a lead to move from “Prospecting” to “Qualifying” to “Negotiating?” Does their perception of the rules match up with the expectations of ownership? If it doesn’t, the sales manager gets caught in the middle, trying to translate two different languages.

That vagueness can – and often does – lead to messy and inaccurate sales forecasting. So here’s an easier way:

Most B2B businesses have similar stages from initial contact to sale. There’s no need to overthink things.

Try setting up this basic sales process in your CRM stage drop-down pick list. The clear language here will get everyone on the same page and help your team start delivering credible forecasts in those Monday sales meetings.

Starter conversation completed

Detailed discovery meeting completed

Demo delivered

Initial proposal delivered

Final, sign-able proposal delivered

Verbal “yes” received

Signed contract in hand

Full payment in hand

In our experience, most businesses can live with these steps, perhaps with minor modifications. Gone is the vagueness over whether a prospect is qualifying or negotiating. In its place is a very clear series of virtual boxes to be checked, and that will get you and your team all speaking the same language again.