Many sales organizations use sales pipeline probability percentages to help them understand where sales opportunities are at in the sales cycle and what the chances are of closing the deal. Understanding some best practices for success with sales pipeline probability criteria can help you get the most out of this feature.
The probability percentage field can be found on the opportunity record in in Dynamics CRM 2011. This field can be configured to use an organization’s defined sales pipeline criteria and processes. To get the most value out of this feature, organizations must determine what the criteria should be. Good, measurable criteria should use the following guidelines:
- Only create the number of stages in the sales cycle that really indicate major milestones in the sales process and that are repeated at least 80% of the time.If you have never had set pipeline criteria before, the key is to keep it as simple as possible. You can expand it after you roll it out to the sales team and have a chance to learn from using it in the field. There will always be those few deals that are the exception, but the 80/20 rule definitely applies here.
- For each stage, define what steps or actions need to happen to set the opportunity stage at each defined percentage.For example, if you have a set stage of “Prospect Qualified 30%,” you need to create a set of defined actions that must occur before a sales person can set an opportunity at that stage. This could be something such as in in-person meeting has occurred, the prospect is interested in moving forward, and/or the prospect need has been clearly defined.This gives the sales person clear direction on what is expected if they set the stage to status, so they don’t just set it based on how they feel that day or what kind of weekend they just had. It also gives the sales manager a clearer picture of where the opportunity is at and what has occurred when they follow up with the salesperson about the opportunity.
Sample Pipeline Criteria
Using the guidelines above, here is an example of a simple pipeline criteria to get started with:
10% Suspect Identified
Rules: Potential customer identified and an in-person meeting has been scheduled.
30% Prospect Qualified
Rules: In person meeting has occurred, prospect interest in product/service verified, prospect needs identified and verified
50% Proposal Sent
Rules: Proposal/quote has been sent and reviewed with the prospect.
90%: Contract sent
Rules: Proposal/quote signed by prospect, contract sent for signature.
Configuring CRM to Use Sales Pipeline Probability
Now, let’s configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM so that we can use this criteria track sales opportunities.
- Create a custom option set (drop down) field in the Opportunity form to place your pipeline values and replace the system probability field CRM provides. (You could use the system field for this, but it is a simple text field and you risk that your sales team will enter data incorrectly or inconsistently. For best practices on creating options sets, check out our blog When to Use a Global Option Set vs. a Custom entity.) Here what it should look like when you’re finished:
Now your sales team can mark their opportunities at the appropriate stage.
- You can create dashboards for analytics using new field. If you haven’t created a dashboard before, our blog How To Create a Personal Dashboard in CRM 2011 is a great place to start. Here’s an example of a dashboard using the criteria we established above:
Once you have set clearly defined and realistic pipeline percentage criteria, it can be a very powerful predictive sales analysis tool!
Happy selling & CRM’ing!