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Manage Opportunities to Close Deals

Learning Objectives:

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the benefits of proper opportunity management.
  • List ways to support your chosen sales methodology in Salesforce.

The Five Ws of Opportunity Management

You've put time and effort into working with your friends in marketing to build the pipeline and qualify leads. This next phase is all you, sales. Fortunately, your reps are now set up to do what they love most: close those deals. But to get deals over the finish line, your team needs a winning strategy—something we call opportunity management. Let’s take a closer look at it, starting with the five Ws.

  • What—Opportunity management is the process you use to guide opportunities through the sales cycle until they close.
  • Who—The process involves sales reps, sales managers, and basically anyone who wants opportunities to close.
  • When—It kicks in once a lead is qualified and a sales rep converts it to an opportunity. As the old adage goes, an opportunity is “a deal you have the opportunity to close.”
  • Where—In Sales Cloud of course! You can set up Salesforce so that it guides your reps through the process and so that managing their opportunities well is a no-brainer.
  • Why—There are a few main reasons why opportunity management matters. 1) It helps your reps take the right steps to close a deal, every time. 2) It gives sales leadership a better view into the pipeline. 3) It keeps deals moving forward toward the close.

Opportunity Management in Salesforce

There are tons of ways you can manage opportunities, and we can’t begin to cover every sales methodology. If you don’t have a sales process, it’s probably worth defining. Do some research. See how other organizations do it, ask your most successful reps what’s working well, and put your findings into a repeatable process that all your reps can follow.

Whatever sales methodology you choose, make sure you support it in Salesforce. Here are a few ways.

Help reps follow your process.

Once you have a defined process, make it really easy for your sales reps to follow with Sales Path. It lets you add guidance at every stage, and it shows up in Sales Cloud when your rep gets to that stage.

For example, it’s important to gather certain info to qualify a deal, but you don’t want a prospect to feel like it’s an interrogation. At Stage 1, you can include a list of questions that a rep can ask to tactfully qualify the opportunity, and include what red flags to look out for.

Require reps to follow the process.

You can even take this a bit farther by requiring that reps input certain information to progress a deal forward. You can do this by creating fields where reps are required to enter key information at certain stages.

For example, it’s important to know the main stakeholders in any deal. Too many deals have fallen apart when an eager rep has “negotiated” with someone without the authority to make a decision, only to have the actual decision maker say no. To progress an opportunity, a rep could be required to fill out the stakeholders field and confirm that they have contact with the decision maker.

If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.

You’ve probably heard us say this one before. We repeat it over and over again because it’s so crucial to a successful Sales Cloud implementation—and to successful opportunity management. To programmatically manage opportunities and get them all the way to close, reps absolutely have to track everything in Salesforce. It gives them all the info they need when they revisit the opportunity. It quickly brings anyone up to speed who is helping on the account. And it lets sales leaders get a proper understanding of how well each deal is doing and jump in to help where necessary.

Some companies have enforced this simply by not accepting anything else but Salesforce. For example, some sales managers only consider pipeline reports in Salesforce, not in spreadsheets. Commissions are paid out only on what’s in Salesforce, not on what a rep reports. And when it comes to who owns an account or how a commission is split, it all comes down to what can be seen in Salesforce.

Ready to Win

You’ve learned how to build a strong pipeline and work with the marketing team, not against it. (Remember, they ultimately want more business to close, just like you do.) You’ve also learned how to pick out the best leads and how you can help your reps manage their opportunities well using Salesforce. Now, put it all into practice and start closing those deals!


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