Kyle: Hey Greg. I'm very excited about today. We are going to follow up on our last podcast, whether we should be able to move opportunities to on-hold and we are going to talk specifically about when should we be creating opportunities. My thesis is that it is when you have a meeting with a person who can buy. It sounds like you've got a completely different theory on this.
Greg: I'm gonna give the controversial opinion here. The reason why I feel this way is because my background is in analytics and so I want to understand what the entire sales cycle look like, from start to finish. And everything that happens along the way. I am actually a strong believer that an opportunity represents your sales process and your sales cycle. So an opportunity should be created as soon as you take ownership of the account.
Kyle: Oh, interesting. So if I get an account, there is an opportunity that I create in my name that I'm managing towards a conclusion.
Greg: Correct. So what I've done in the past is stage 1 will be prospecting, stage 2 will be meeting, stage 3 will be completed and so on. But by doing that I can associate activities to opportunities so I can A) get your full sales cycle but B) you then know on average how many touches does it take us to set an opportunity.
Kyle: Oh, wow, this is really starting to resonate. I kind of like this. I feel like I have not thought of this whole concept at all. So you're saying, each opportunity is like an attempt to go through the sales process.
Kyle: Oh, man. So I start at an opportunity as prospecting so I can see how many activities have been sent while the opportunity is in prospecting. Then I can see did they show up or not. Walk me through how you think about stages and what that looks like.
Greg: I like to define stages using verbs, so it's like an action that's happened. And so, instead of just saying: meeting set, like most companies would say demo stage, I would say demo completed. So it moves to that stage when the demo is completed. It's up to you whether the stage name should represent the end of a stage or the beginning of a stage. Personally, I like the end. I don't really think it matters. So I would say demo completed. So it enters that stage when that demo has been completed. So I know anything in demo completed, they are now going back and forth, trying to get that sale.
So step 1 will be prospecting. Step 2 will be meeting set. Step 3 will be meeting completed or discovery completed (by your terminology). Step 4 would be demo completed. Sometimes on the first call, you can do a demo and you can move it straight to step 4. Then you'll have negotiations started. Contracts sent. Things like that towards the end.
And then also, very important, I have a stage called: close no response. So that way if it's in your prospecting phase and you can never get a hold of them, it does fit into your Close Lost matrix.
Kyle: Because you separate that close stage completely out. Because if they just never even respond, you want to look at that separately from I lost because a competitor took it.
Kyle: You wouldn't just have a Closed Lost reason on that?
Greg: You could do that but it gets annoying especially from the analytics perspective cause what ends up happening is your win rate is total one over total lost plus one but you want to pull out that specific one. Rather just take that out.
Kyle: Yeah, that makes sense.
Greg: But you could totally do that.
Kyle: So you said negotiations, agreements sent. Those are the kind of stages you have. What's beyond agreement sent. Agreement signed? Or Close One?
Greg: It depends on the business that we are working with but it will either be like Implementation Started or Closed One or Activation, whatever. Depends on how you actually interact with the product.
Kyle: Okay. So, the creation of opportunity. How do you actually go about tracking, I typically use stage history to kind of track, what's the likelihood of stage one move to stage two to stage three, where you see a funnel through the opportune life cycle? How do you go about building reports for customers showing like, this is of all the accounts that you reach out to, this is demo rate or whatever you want to call it?
How do you actually go about tracking the opportune life cycle and build reports for your customers showing the demo rate?
Greg: So for every stage, we have like a stage tracker, a huge process builder which calculates, whenever it moves into a stage it calculates the date, stamps the date, and from there you can get how many days it's been in each stage on average. And then in your funnel reporting, you can say for everything where the demo completed date is not blank, show me how many are lost and how many are won and how many are in the pipeline.
Kyle: Okay so I want to think of situations where this won't work so that I can challenge you. If I have an account and I want to start prospecting into it, I have this opportunity, any new activities under that account will show up under the opportune so I can track that there. What about reaching out to multiple divisions under one account? Would I create multiple opportunities and tie contacts to them right away or how do you think about that?
Greg: I think that's pretty rare but in those cases where you're reaching out to different divisions at one company, generally you would have multiple accounts but if not, I would probably just prefer one opportunity until you know where your opportunity is.
Kyle: Is your expectation that reps would be adding contacts to the opportunities or begin outreach to them?
Greg: That's a really good question. It really depends. Ideally, you have the racehorses, an analytics team. Or you have a program that automatically does that. I've had teams to write programs to automatically associate tasks with opportunities. there's actually a tool called Truly Wireless that does this for you where it will actually stamp on the Call Task what stage is the opportunity in. It will tie it lost opportunities, but generally speaking, I would have that automated.
Kyle: One of the points I made was: oh, you can see how many activities it took to get a meeting set. Like, if I emailed ten people in one time, that's ten activities to get my very first meeting. Is that something you actually do or did I take it a step further than you tend to do for customers?
Greg: No that is definitely something we do. I worked at a company once where we did this and it's interesting. The two most successful SDRs, one of them was just a workhorse and needed 10 touches to get a meeting. So he was just hammering the phones, hammering the email. And then the other most successful SDR was actually somebody who had like an 80% success rate, getting a meeting from a call or an email. And she had a very different sale style. She would tons of research and would be very thoughtful to whom she reached out to. The other guy would just carpet bomb everyone. Which is fine. It got the job done. But it is actually really interesting to be able to see this. It's really telling in how your team works and you can start to, if you look at what successful people are doing, you can help to set up expectations, so the rest of the team are like: hey, people who hit quota have to make six calls to an account before they set a discovery call, so don't get discouraged after call two.
Kyle: I actually really like this. I might throw away my method now. Okay so I get an account, I immediately create an opportunity, I begin prospecting. Let's assume all my activities are flowing into the opportunity. Let's pretend that all the contacts that I am reaching out are added to the opportunity as well, so that's all synced clearly. I can track how many activities happened before I got to first response or first demo or whatever. You've got to write custom code for that right? Before you can move it to demo set or whatever, you've got to calculate that number of activities tied to that opportunity. Do you write code or do you use Process Builder or do you use flows or how have you done that in the past?
Greg: You can do either. You can do it via Flow, you can do it via Apex, or you can use Snowflake, it's a pretty simple sequent creation. There are plenty of ways to do that, but generally, if you have someone that does BIA (Business Impact Analysis) analytics, they'll be able to do that for you.
Kyle: Gotcha. So I move the deal through to process. What is the company says: no way, this is not going to work. Let's say you sell to multiple departments within a single company, I could sell to sales or customer success, let's just say I'm reaching out to sales and customer success, I only have one OP, right?
Kyle: So let's say sales says I'm not going to buy, but after the demo is completed. So you're just continuing to prospect into that CS team, do you think that should be a brand new opportunity or how do you recommend to handle those?
Greg: If you're reaching out to both simultaneously then it's fine. Just keep the same opportunity. It's no different than when you have a call with someone and that person is like: hey, this sounds great I'm going to pass you off to someone. If it's not like that and you have to start from scratch then I would prefer to close out the opportunity.
Kyle: It's like, every team you can sell to internally and I feel like, I should have an opportunity for CS and an opportunity for Sales in this example. And the contacts under CS should be under the CS OP and Sales under the Sales OP so I can actually see, if I'm selling to Sales this is actually how many activities it took to get a hold of Sales because if you're combining Sales and CS, maybe I'm getting way too in the weeds, but companies want to be pretty analytical about this. Like Sales actually takes 7 emails to get through, CS takes 4. Like you can't know that if you're combining everything.
Greg: Correct. If you want that level of detail then you definitely do that. You should have a different opportunity for each potential buying group.
Kyle: I like this a lot because a lot of companies I've talked to in the past are like: I want to be able to track a lead, the percentage that convert into contacts. The percentage that moves into opportunities. Percentage that moved to 10% etc. And it's typically very hard to do mostly because there can be situations where opportunities move up and back down to 0% and they've got to create a new opportunity like it's not clear how you build a funnel where you tie one lead all the way through to a deal. Because a leader contacted me saying no, but then you generate a new opportunity when they say yes down the road. Like you can reengage people. So it feels like every attempt outreaching to a company should almost be its own opportunity. then you can easily build a funnel because you're tracking it all the way through from that very first message going out all the way to a deal closing. This feels like the best way.
Greg: So the other component is, if you structure your Salesforce like this, you also don't use leads because everything like sales cycle, deal progression, all your biometrics happen on the opportunities.
Kyle: Cause it's very heavy account-based marketing kind of method. We are reaching out to a company, not just a person who is a lead in our CRM.
Kyle: I like that a lot. What do you see are pitfalls doing it this way? Cause when I try to build funnels for customers it's always painful cause they want the lead conversion process tied in so that's always in, so that's always been a pitfall for me. Have you ever seen any pitfalls going down this route?
Greg: Generally the biggest problem occurs if you are not a very operationally strong company. This requires when you're closing you actually put a real reason. When you're talking to someone, you have to actually adjust the stages. If you're one of those companies where you can tell when leads are DQed, just by, if it's been a 100 days since a person has emailed them, then this is not a great thing for you cause it does require a lot of Salesforce hygiene.
Kyle: Do you automate things like if a person responds do you have an incoming email from that prospect that it moves the stage to this or if a calendar invite is sent then it moves it to demo booked. Do you go that far or do you require that reps are manually doing that?
Greg: It depends on the level of automation that people want generally. It's pretty easy to automate if you get an incoming that it's now taken out of office move it from attempting to connect to an active contacts type thing. But it's pretty hard to-- I don't super trust moving it to demo schedule where discovery calls get completed. So that kind of stuff is where this falls apart if people are not plugged into the updating.
Kyle: Yeah you could use something like Calendly where if a person books time with Calendly I'm sure you could use Zappier or something like that to send that to Salesforce or parts of the Calendly message to Salesforce to just automatically just move that opportunity to the next stage but that does create challenges with what if you have multiple opportunities per account, you might hit some pitfalls there but it feels like it could be automated to some extent.
Greg: Yes that is a possibility. This is kind of a different problem but if you automate too much, you run into this problem where reps get out of practice doing no Salesforce updating. Probably not what you want. Yes, there are definitely workarounds to be able to automate this stuff.
Kyle: So my initial thesis was, create an opportunity when a person agrees to meet with you. Your thesis is to create an opportunity when you begin outreach to a company. Have you ever seen any other ways? I guess one of the most common ones is people will only create opportunities if there is a potential for them to buy meaning they've identified BANT and they're actually doing a proper view. Have you seen this a lot or do you typically see companies fall on the spectrum of opportunities?
Greg: It's either when the initial meeting is set or when the initial meeting has occurred and they are qualified.
Kyle: So my idea of when a person agrees to a meeting that's too soon from what you typically see?
Greg: I would say probably. It's 50/50 in terms of what I've seen between the initial meeting been set or the account being qualified. The problem with the latter is if you're not creating opportunity till the rep has already qualified it, everything before that is happening on the lead generally. Such a nightmare.
Kyle: Yes I think why I lean towards that is my background of sales rep and then managing them, is that I want to quantify what they are producing. And typically what I want to know, how many meetings have you booked? That's what most SDRs are compensated on. I don't like it, and we should have another podcast about how SDRs should be compensated but my file is you should be compensated for what you can control and that's a meeting booked. Like I can't guarantee that the people want to buy or that they have the budget for this but I can tell you that a person agreed to meet and they meet the specific criteria for like for their role and title. And typically I would look at how many opportunities were generated by SDRs, over a given timeframe, therefore that's your compensation. So I think that's maybe my biased towards leaning towards OPS generated rated than, how many OPS hits stage X which was meetings scheduled that's an exact same process.
Kyle: I kinda like that a lot. That solves a lot of the problems that I've run into customers wanting to understand the life cycle of outreach to a given company. Given an account that I touch, what's the likelihood I get a deal out of it? Or the likelihood I get a meeting out of it. Or the likelihood I get an agreement in their hand. But you can't track that with my way.
Greg: Wow, man. Did I change your mind?
Kyle: I would say you changed my mind. This feels like a far superior one. I can't see any major challenges other than reaching out to multiple departments but I dig on operations so I think that can work. I would almost want to classify contacts as like their CS or Sales, in that one example that I have. And upon them receiving an email they should be associated with a proper CS or Sales opportunity. Like I would want to automatically create opportune contact roles for that contacts so that no contacts are left out of this whole outreach engagement process. That would be a thing that I would want to do, there could be pitfalls there but I'm big on who should classify contacts, who should classify ops, like in a very specific way so that we can report on them in the future. I'm in, man. I want to do this. Anything else in terms of opportune creation that I maybe missed?
Greg: I think we're good.
Kyle: Cool. We crushed this, man. This was a great one. Thanks for changing my mind.
Greg: Yeah, thank you. Have a good one.