Mapping Out the Sales Stages

As the startup moves past the search for product/market fit and into the search for a repeatable customer acquisition model, mapping out the sales stages becomes much more important. Now, the sales process should start with a discovery call, but what’s next? Here’s an example group of stages in a sales process:

  1. Discovery
  2. Demo
  3. Trial
  4. Negotiation
  5. Won / Lost

There’s a balance with having the stages fine-grained enough to reflect where things are in the process, but not so fine-grained that the stages don’t reflect useful information. One best practice is to include the stages that the majority of winning opportunities pass through. For example, some products require two or three demos before purchase, and most deals go through at least two demos, so it’d be useful to rename the “Demo” stage to “Demo 1” and add a new stage after it “Demo 2” since it’s a key part of the normal flow.

Here’s a more advanced set of stages:

  1. Discovery Scheduled
  2. Discovery Complete
  3. Demo Scheduled
  4. Demo Complete
  5. Trial Started
  6. Trial Complete
  7. Negotiations
  8. Contracting
  9. Won / Lost

Entrepreneurs should map out the sales stages and continually refine them as the business matures.

What else? What are some more thoughts on mapping out the sales stages?


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