Pipeline Management: Creating and closing deals

When to create (and close) a deal

Hi friends - You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

So, allow me to break down the basic elements needed to measure and manage (RevOps fundamentals).

We’ll start with pipeline management this month.

Topics we’ll be covering in June include:

  • When to create (and close) a deal

  • How to structure your deal stages

  • What to track and measure on your deals

  • Win/Loss analysis and lost opp follow-up

Note: Deal = Opportunity - two terms that mean the exact same thing in different CRMs.

When to create (and close) a deal

When should you create a deal?

When you have a confirmed commitment from your prospect to have a conversation with you (aka a Discovery Call).

Yes, when a real person at a prospective customer schedules or agrees to schedule a call with you.

I like to do it as soon as they agree so it doesn’t get lost between the yes and the actual booking.

Every element of your pipeline management should be objective, black and white. It happened or it didn’t happen. Anything subjective is not measurable.

When should you not create a deal?

  1. When you identify a lead, but no one from that account has responded to you. 🙄 

  2. When someone responded to you and said ‘No thanks. We’re already using X’ or ‘This isn’t a priority right now.’

    • Make a note on the lead/account in your CRM, and

    • Create a task to follow up in 3-6 months to see if they are still happy with X, timing is better, etc.

Leads vs Deals

Leads represent potential customers who may or may not be a good fit. They are people or accounts identified as potential fits based on firmographics or triggers (like funding, M&A etc) but haven’t been qualified yet.

Deals (or opportunities) are accounts that have expressed a clear interest or intent to purchase. If no one has responded to you, there is no clarity on their interest or intent to purchase.

I’ve seen SO many startups with a pipeline full of ‘leads’ and this is a completely inaccurate representation of your forecast. It’s called fake news.

It’s like me saying Brad Pitt and I are dating. Brad doesn't know who I am and has never agreed to a date. We’re not even CLOSE to dating.

When should you close a deal?

There are two, and only two possible outcomes for every deal -

  1. Closed Won

  2. Closed Lost

On hold is not a deal stage. If they aren’t moving forward now, it’s lost. It doesn’t mean it’s lost forever, but it’s lost for now. Remember, objective black and white is the goal.

A deal should be moved to Closed Won once they have signed a contract with you and an invoice has been issued.

A deal should be moved to Closed Lost if -

  • The prospect has ghosted you. If they haven’t replied in 30+ days after several attempts to re-engage.

  • No clear next steps are agreed to with the prospect within the next 60 days.

  • If they’ve explicitly told you, ‘not right now’.

Again, this doesn’t mean all is lost forever, but it does mean it’s lost for now. I recommend clearly documenting -

  • Closed Lost reason (as a drop-down select)

  • Closed Lost notes (free format text with additional info)

  • Revisit? (Yes/No)

    • If yes, create a task to revisit at the appropriate time—either a time you’ve agreed to or a default of 3-6 months if there is no agreed date.

Don’t be afraid of closed lost.

Every deal is an opportunity to learn more about your ICP, practice your sales pitch and process, and extract more data to use in the future.

As long as you keep good records, you’ll be able to use this data to refine your targeting, sales process, and positioning incrementally to win more* over time.

Do not reopen a previously lost deal when you get re-engagement. Create a NEW deal instead. Every at-bat gets it’s own new deal.

That’s it for this week! See ya next Sunday 🙂 

Want to learn more about how I help startups improve their go-to-market strategy and execution? Book a strategy call.

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With love and gratitude, 

Jess Schultz

Founder & CEO

Amplify Group