This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 4 – Metrics around prospecting

A prospect is someone who the salesperson is trying to get a meeting or sales conversation with. If you are tracking by opportunity, then this term can be used for existing clients as well. Having separate fields in your CRM for contact type and project status can be useful ─ project status is where you would put the steps in the sales process. Be sure that you can assign a date to each status change in order to help you see where pipelines might be getting bloated.

If this is not possible, different statuses associated with the different tasks on the calendar can accomplish the same function. For example, the person in the database could be a prospect (if you have never sold anything to him or her) or a client. In addition, each task on the calendar can have a status associated with the place in the pipeline of the related deal that is in progress, such that the tasks related to each deal follows the sales process in the CRM.

For example, if I call a client to set up a meeting to demonstrate our latest product, then the task in the database can be tagged as prospect, since with respect to my effort to sell them something, they are a prospect, even though their status is that of a client. Different CRM systems will have different ways of handling the accomplishment of these tracking goals. Be sure that you know what data you want to track before you buy a CRM system. Also be sure that the way you do business can be supported by the CRM and that the CRM will generate the reports you want from the data that is captured.

Leads and prospects are important statuses in the database because they represent the start of the sales pipeline. If someone is not generating enough revenue, it is useful to look back to where the problem started. If leads and prospecting activity are not tracked, it is not possible to review the beginning of the process to see all of the possible sources of the problem. The problem is always not enough revenue, but to know and manage if the source of that problem is related to the number of chances to close a deal or the effectiveness of closing the deals that are there to be closed is an important distinction. Tracking the early part of the sales process gives managers the data that they need to do this.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David