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The Puzzle of SFDC Opportunity Sales Stages

One of the most important things to know about Sfdc opportunity stages is that they are not always an indication of where a lead is in the sales process. Sfdc opportunity stages can be confusing, and sometimes they seem like they don’t make sense at all. In this article, we will discuss what Sfdc opportunity stages mean and how you can use them for your benefit!

When I started 12 years ago with the Sfdc opportunity stages, it was a challenge to find good information. I had to go through trial and error before I figured out what worked for me. Even with the information available today, it’s a good idea to experiment a little bit with Sfdc opportunity stages before you decide on one specific strategy.

Opportunity Stages Explained

SFDC Sales stages are a list of stages that are defined by Salesforce. These stages are the default setting when you first sign-up with a fresh salesforce account and they act as a starting point for any sales process.

When you first open a Salesforce account, you will discover that there are seven default stages:

  • Qualification
  • Meeting scheduled
  • Proposal/Price Quote
  • Negotiation/Review
  • Closed Won
  • Closed Lost

The seven stages mentioned above cover almost any b2b business process. You can use them as a starting point and then customize them to fit your own sales process.

But there is one thing you need to know about stages. Once you upgrade to Enterprise or higher, you will see much more opportunity stages. I will not cover them in this article.

Opportunity Stage Features

There are many features that make the SFDC sales stages different from other salesforce objects. Some of these features include tracking how long an opportunity has been on a stage, and using this data to help you do your forecasting.

Tracking stage length

SFDC allow users to track how long the opportunity has been stuck on a particular sales stage so they can forecast better.

Tracking the duration of an opportunity stage is essential to creating a good forecast. By knowing how long an opportunity has been on a particular stage, you can get a better idea of how close you are to actually close the sale. This data will help you to make better decisions about your sales process and when to pull out all the stops to close the deal.

You cannot forecast accurately if you don’t have data about the length of time an opportunity has been stuck on one stage. Salesforce make it easy for you by providing data that can help you with your forecasting efforts. Tracking the duration of an opportunity stage will help you use this data to create more accurate forecasts, which can save you time and money in the long run.”

Stage Validations

Another very commonly used feature is validation. For example you don’t wan’t your sales rep to move from one stage to another before they have filled in particular fields. For this you can use stage validations.

This is a great feature for companies that want to make sure the sales rep fills out all fields on opportunities before moving on. You may also want them to fill in certain fields depending of how long they have been working on an opportunity or which department they are from, there’s many reasons why you would need validation rules andSFDC sales stages makes it really easy for you create these rules.

In most cases top reps don’t move from one opportunity stage to another unless every required field has been filled in correctly, if not then your organization will miss out big time as deals with inaccurate data never close! Validation ensures that only accurate information flows through your system so everyone knows where any given deal stands at any given time.

Sales Path

Another great feature offered by salesforce opportunity stages is its path function. Path allows you to easily visualize the stages of your sales and instead of using a dropdown picklist, you can use visually compelling interfaces for your sales reps.

What I love about the Salesforce path, is that you are able to add descriptions on every sales stage, thus you can provide guidance for your sales reps.

Probability tracking

Opportunity probability tracking is another great feature in SFDC opportunity stages. SFDC automatically tracks the probability of an opportunity and calculates it for you, but you can also change or update it manually under settings to reflect real-time changes in your forecast. Probability together with closing date of the opportunity contributes to the

Too many stages

If you upgrade to Enterprise or Ultimate edition of salesforce you will notice, that there are 16 active stages available. This is way too much for any sales organisation and usually is relevant only for huge companies like google where there’s a lot of different people responsible for closing deals.

I once worked with one company that had over 50 active opportunity stages and this was complete madness, nobody knew how to use such an amount of data. Sales reps got lost on too much information and they were not able to close their deals properly because they couldn’t prioritize them right which stage should be next or what is important for particular deal at any given time. This issue can easily solved by customizing your SFDC opportunities and removing irrelevant fields from certain stages so you only have relevant info available when needed.”

Determined sequence

Second biggest issue with salesforce opportunity stages is that stages are strictly determined. It means they follow one after another, and it is not 100% clear how to represent sales process where set of stages is the same for all deals, but sequence of these stages is different.

For example, you have three stages: initial sales call, discovery and negotiation. But for this particular deal it is more efficient to go through the first two of them in one day and then skip ahead to finalizing everything with a contract. For another customer, they might need some additional time on discovery before moving forward so that stage will be longer than usual.

I try to resolve this issue by using the opportunity stage history function. I find that if I want a sales rep to have a different process, I can use the opportunity stage history to have them go through another stage in a different order. Ideally, you should only have one type of sales cycle for all reps.

The most effective Salesforce opportunity stages

From my experience, there is not ideal way of creating sales stages, but let me share my experience and where do I start.

To start with, I remove all default stages and only leave few, maybe three or four. I usually just deactivate them, not to make too much noise for sales reps and make sure I can quickly return them to the pipeline. Next, I make training sessions with sales reps.

I always try to explain this structure of Salesforce opportunity stages in my training sessions because if people understand why do we need different types of information during different stages then they can really benefit from using SFDC properly.

Once I’m sure that sales reps use those few step correctly, I re-enable some additional sales stages.

Hope this article was useful.

Have a great day/night whenever you are reading this.

System Thinker, Technology Evangelist, and Humanist, Jeff, brings a unique blend of experience, insight, and humanity to every piece. With eight years in the trenches as a sales representative and later transitioning into a consultant role, Jeff has mastered the art of distilling complex concepts into digestible, compelling narratives. Journeying across the globe, he continues to curate an eclectic tapestry of knowledge, piecing together insights from diverse cultures, industries, and fields. His writings are a testament to his continuous pursuit of learning and understanding—bridging the gap between technology, systems thinking, and our shared human experience.

No hocus pocus, just strategic focus.


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