If you’re like most sales organizations, your pipeline stages are average. They allow you to track sales, manage opportunities and provide a rough forecast. And then, when it’s crunch time, your pipeline fails you and you miss your number again. The reason? You don’t know what’s happening inside your sales funnel.
One big culprit in “blurry pipeline vision” involves stages that are too big. So, when is a pipeline stage too big? When you need too many “yes” answers, when too many sales efforts are required or when the stages are too complex to get to the next stage. When a stage is too big you don’t have the visibility you need to know if a deal is close to moving to the next stage or still at the beginning. The key is to break down these stages into a more manageable size.
A good pipeline stage size. If there is a certain complexity in a stage (such as a demo or trial) consider making the demo or trial its own stage. This way you can distinguish between acquiring data results from a trial and the review of that data. The key is to make sure there aren’t too many complex sales efforts in a single stage.
Also, consider your timeframe. If your sales cycle is a year long, having one or two sales stages that can take 5-6 months and a few more that take a few weeks can also cause you problems. A deal can get stuck in a long stage with little visibility and you may not find out it’s in trouble until it’s too late.