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'Implementation' as part of sales opportunity stages??? Global org - help needed!

Hi Everyone! I'm part of our Org's Sales Strategy team for the US SMB division. We are a global org, all operating from the same Salesforce instance. My team has been focused on behavioral changes, and we now want to take this to the next level and be able to measure pipeline velocity, something currently impossible due to having 29 opportunity stages for sales. We have 'campaigned' to our global Salesforce Governance team to reduce this to 6 stages, but are now being told we need to include "implementation" as a stage in the sales cycle before "closed won." **Question for the SH Community: has anyone heard of this? Does anyone else include a traditionally post-sale 'stage' prior to 'closed won'? Our team counts a "win" as having a signed contract, so we are very concerned about having a step that occurs after the "win" and often takes months, in the middle of our opportunity stages - this will inevitably delay pipeline and make forecasting very challenging. Thanks!

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    • Profile picture of Macky Bradley
      @mackybradley
      ( 6.9k POINTS )
      1 month, 1 week ago

      Wow! 29 Opportunity stages for sales? Is that correct ?

      That is the first thing that you need to correct. Most sales professionals struggle with updating when there are only 7 stages. Need to immediately simplify that. All your salespeople are gonna do is set around updating opportunities. Unless they only have one or two opportunities.
      Cut it down to no more than 7, make sure everybody is agreeing upon what each stage really means.
      I think that you and your sales teams will both be happier and productive.
      (If you were my manager and told me I had 29 stages to update on each opportunity, You would not be my manager very long! LOL)
      I would maybe suggest that as part of the closed won stage, it automatically takes your closed won opportunity and places it in a pending area to be assigned to the implementation team. This responsibility does not need to be added to your sales team’s responsibilities. What you seem to have here is a Governance Team that think they know the sales process, but they don’t really know the process at all.
      I have been in SaaS / Platform for Sales, some very large companies, and small companies, nobody has more than 6 or 7 steps. For real. Best wishes!

      Thanks for the question!

      Cheers!

      Macky

    • Profile picture of darren williams
      @dcilliam
      ( 250 POINTS )
      1 month, 1 week ago

      I think implementation is naturally supposed to be after closed/won. As a sales person who is also in charge of implementation post sale, I move implementation to Asana as a project at that point. This way I can track prospects in my CRM and implementation in a project management tool which also allows for more flexibility.

    • Profile picture of Eddie Reynolds
      @eddiereynolds
      ( 210 POINTS )
      1 month, 1 week ago

      My company does Salesforce implementations. That’s all we do and we definitely do not have a stage for implementation in our sales cycle.

      Once the contract is signed the deal is closed.

      However, we do have a separate field called Project Stage that tracks the status of implementation.

      So that covers you on both fronts. If I want to run a report to see what stage each implementation is in I can do that easily. I just don’t use the Opportunity Stage field to do it.

      • Profile picture of Mary Green 🔹
        @marygreencny
        ( 5k POINTS )
        1 month ago

        Is that how most of your clients track the implementation, in the opportunity stage field?

    • Profile picture of Geoff Land
      @geoff-land
      ( 520 POINTS )
      1 month, 1 week ago

      Everywhere I have worked getting to the Closed Won stage means you have a signed contract for the product / services / SaaS term. The Opportunity is just there to measure the effectiveness of the activity of the stages prior to driving it to the closed won stage. Implementation is a a separate process that comes afterward. I would ask why they want this as part of the Opportunity?

      I can see getting the implementation team involved prior to the close won stage and maybe have them sign off of on what is being sold, especially in a complex deal. I don’t think having a stage for this is the best way to go. You could have some fields added to the Opportunity object that are related to any Implementation approvals and have them only editable by a Implementation person and they can be required to be completed prior to going to the Closed Won stage.

      I would echo the other sentiments here that you should keep the number of stages around six. I’ve been in sales as a quota carrying rep and I did not have time to move everything through more stages than that. I wasn’t always 100% accurate on the stage info and I was waaaay more diligent than your typical rep on my SFDC hygiene. Your reps are way more concerned on hitting their number than moving deals properly through the stages. make it easy on them and the other supporting teams and your adoption will increase.

    • Profile picture of Graeme Gilovitz
      @aussieg
      ( 1.9k POINTS )
      1 month ago

      Hi @alexandra

      Wow 29 stages! I hope these are automated! We have only 5 stages
      Value Validation (at the point that an AE accepts the SQL from an SDR and decides to run it)
      Evaluation
      Negotiation
      Contract Execution
      Closed won/Lost

      Never heard of “implementation” prior to close won. is this more related to discussions around implementation with pre-sales/Customer success to ensure that the planning has been agreed upon prior to signing the docs? Or is it like a POC?

      As for velocity, yes we are starting to build in these metrics – how long we are spending on each stage on average. I love it as a metric

    • Profile picture of Chrystian Barragan
      @chrystianbq
      ( 240 POINTS )
      1 month ago

      Hi Alex,
      Well, as everybody else mentioned, it is impressive to have 29 stages. Typically, I´ve seen on average between 4 and 7.

      As for the implementation, we do have a customer where this became the last stage prior to Closing the Opp in Salesforce. But this is only because the Sales Rep is fully responsible for the delivery/installation (industrial valves) to the customer and the collection of the payment in full. In general it is not natural, since as you stated it is a post-sale activity.

      A way to get info on that is to relate an Implementation Project to the Opportunity, or in some cases we relate a Case (both in Salesforce) to the Opportunity with the info/status of the implementation. So that Sales can see the status of the implementation in Opportunity Reports or from within the Opportunity.

      Cheers and good luck!
      Chrystian

      • Profile picture of Mary Green 🔹
        @marygreencny
        ( 5k POINTS )
        1 month ago

        That’s an interesting point. I worked with a company where the onboarding process was also handled in Salesforce, this way the sales people could see the status in case a customer reached out.

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