A sales opportunity is a source of potential business – it’s literally an “opportunity” to offer your product or service to an interested individual or business, and represents an "opportunity" for revenue. Generally, an opportunity comes from one of two places:
A lead, or a potential customer, or
An existing customer, who has done some form of business with you in the past, and is returning for additional products or services.
To learn how to create an opportunity, see our article Create an Opportunity.
Opportunities go through a number of stages in their life cycle (from initial interest to new customer or business). This is called the pipeline.
What is the Pipeline?
The pipeline expresses how far your opportunities have progressed towards a sale. The pipeline amount represents the amount of potential revenue your opportunity is worth, depending on where it is in the pipeline.
An opportunity is initially assigned an amount that reflects how much actual revenue the opportunity is worth if it's won.
E.g. if a prospective customer is interested in installing a deck, and your company charges $1,000 for that service, the actual revenue that opportunity is worth is $1,000.
The pipeline amount is calculated by applying the probability percentage of the current stage to the actual revenue.
E.g. if the actual revenue for the deck installation is $1,000 and your opportunity is in the Prospecting stage (probability percentage 10%), the pipeline amount for that opportunity is $100.
In Method:CRM, the pipeline consists of nine opportunity stages:
Prospecting (10%): Determining the level of interest a potential customer has in your product or service.
Qualification (10%): Qualifying a lead or customer by using criteria including how interested they are, how likely they are to purchase, etc.
Needs Analysis (20%): Determining whether or not your product or service is a good fit based on their requirements.
Value Proposition (50%): Understanding what the value of your product or service is, and determining how valuable a customer would find it.
Identify Decision Makers (60%): Identifying the person or people with the power to make purchasing decisions, and develop a relationship with them.
Perception Analysis (70%): Determining how a customer perceives your product or service and their expectations of you.
Proposal / Price Quote (70%): Creating a quote and/or a proposal for review.
Negotiation / Review (90%): Hammering out the final details of the deal.
Closed Won (100%): A sale is agreed upon. If the opportunity came from a lead, that lead is converted to a customer.
Closed Lost (0%): The customer does not pursue your product or service. Lost opportunities are recorded to gather data on how to improve your sales pipeline, products, services, marketing, etc.
These stages represent the progression of a sales opportunity towards a successful sale. The closer an opportunity gets to the closed won stage, the more potential revenue the opportunity is worth. This revenue is called the pipeline amount (please see Intro to charts for more information).