In the CRM world, there are many different explanations and visions to explain the sale cycle. From one business’ reality to another, the sale cycle is not a straight line. In this blog, we will explain to you the sale cycle according to Microsoft and as it is used in Dynamics 365. We will help you distinguish a lead from an opportunity. And finally, we will show you how they relate to the sale cycle. These notions will help you envision your sale cycle in your Dynamics 365.
What is a lead?
The definition of a lead reads something like: “an individual that could become a customer.” In other words, a lead is a person that could potentially become a new client. So a lead is a person your enterprise wants to convert into a client to generate sales and increase their market shares.
So, a lead can be someone who:
- you met at a conference or an event;
- gave you their business card;
- visited your website and downloaded your content;
- filed a form on your landing page;
- has been recommended by someone else.
It is important to note that if you work in a B2C (Business-to-Consumer) model, a lead will be a person. However, if you are in a B2B model (Business-to-Business), a lead can be a person or a company.
In short, a lead is a person (or company) you don’t know well, but that you have some information about indicating they might be interested in your products or services.
When you start getting to know your lead, you can determine if that person qualifies as an opportunity (the next step in your sale cycle) or not, and you choose whether or not t continue the business relationship with this lead.
It is important for your company to define the reasons why you disqualify a lead with goal parameters that leave no place for interpretation by your sales force. If you are the sales manager, make sure that your sales team is aligned with those parameters. We will enumerate the good disqualifying parameters, but of course, this list can vary from one company to another.
The good parameters to disqualify a lead are:
- A client doesn’t have a budget to buy your products or services;
- The client’s localization is too far;
- The client doesn’t represent the targeted market for your products or services;
- The client doesn’t want your products or services;
- The timing doesn’t fit with your reality or the client’s.
What is an opportunity?
There is a reason why I have explained the lead before the opportunity. In the sale cycle, a lead that has shown potential will become an opportunity. At this step, the negotiation can begin. This is where your CRM becomes an incredible tool, both useful and powerful.
Ecommercemag.fr gives an excellent definition of opportunity: “Opportunity management is the essence of the CRM. It is the undeniable marker that distinguishes a project of contact management from a real CRM project. To the human dimension of the former, we add the client dimension, based on a business relation to the latter. Managing the sales opportunity justify the C of CRM.”
During the opportunity phase, gathering quality information is most important. If you understand the challenges of your potential client well, you will be able to better target their needs and make an offer that reflects their budget.
How the sales cycle goes according to Microsoft (Lead toward Opportunity)
To well illustrate how the sales cycle goes with the use of a CRM, I will tell you a little story.
I present to you, Mark. He works for the ACME company that sells car parts. He is an account director and is an experienced CRM user.
Here is Christine, she is a buyer for a car manufacturer.
Today, Mark is present in a sales conference in the car industry and by a marvelous coincidence, Christine is also at the conference.
Christine meets Mark at his sales kiosk. They have a short conversation and they exchange business cards. Christine becomes a lead for Mark.
Back at the office, after the conference, Mark enters Christine’s information in his CRM Dynamics 365. Before calling her back, he makes does some quick research to find out information about her company. He sees that she works for a car manufacturer and there is business relationship potential.
Mark decides to qualify Christine in his CRM and Christine levels up from a lead to an opportunity.
Mark calls Christine and with the help of his CRM, he asks questions that target the needs of Christine’s company. The conversation goes well and they decide to have a meeting in person to establish if the two companies can have a business relationship.
Mark documents everything that is said in their phone conversation and due to the targeted questions, he can develop a good opportunity in his CRM. He researches more with the information he has gathered in the first call. The conversation has allowed him to identify a budget and also his competitors.
The fact that Mark documents his opportunity well assures his company that his team will be able to take the relay on the opportunity without asking Christine to repeat her information if Mark must be absent from the office for unpredictable events.
The day of the meeting arrives. During this meeting, Mark has a proposition in hand with the price offer for the identified products in their conversation. Mark documents the meeting and waits for Christine to call back. With the help of his CRM, Mark can have follow-up notifications for his clients to have news and shows interest to Christine.
And since I like happy endings: Mark wins the contract and closes the opportunity. The scenario, even though fictional, represents how the CRM can support you in your sales effort. It allows you to document your interactions with your clients, guides you in the sale process, and helps win your sales opportunity.
In short, I have explained to you the definition of a lead, the definition of an opportunity and how a sales cycle works in a CRM. The role of business partners like Gestisoft is to guide you in your reflexion to establish a sales process that fits with your reactions by following different workshops while implementing your projects.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want more information, our team will be happy to support you so you can have access to the necessary tools to optimize your chances of winning opportunities, like our friend Mark!