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When designing the sales process for your organization, every sales manager has to cross the bridge of lead conversion–when to change lead status to opportunity status in Salesforce. Converting from a lead to an opportunity is a big deal – this means that the prospect is qualified, interested and potentially ready to do business with you. However, many sales managers at various sales organizations of different industries all struggle with the same problem with lead conversion, namely figuring out when a lead is ready to blossom into a beautiful opportunity.

The answer? It doesn’t really matter.

It matters less when this conversion from. Salesforce lead to Salesforce opportunity occurs. What’s more important is that a level of consistency is maintained. Make a decision and implement this across your entire sales team. More importantly, as a sales manager, understand what your decision means for your pipeline and workflow and ensure that there is stringent exit criteria that is met at every stage of your workflow, as well as in the stage between converting from a lead to an opportunity.

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Let’s go back to the beginning of the story. As soon as you get a pile of leads into Salesforce, your reps will start working on them to varying degrees. Once a lead is ready to be converted from the first stage (a purchased list, organic searches, whatever), Salesforce will create a new account and contact for this lead, while defaulting to creating a new opportunity as well. Users have the option of determining when Salesforce should convert that lead to an opportunity.

The first option is simply to convert this lead to an opportunity as soon as it raises its hand and indicates that it is a legitimate prospect with some semblance of interest in doing buying and doing business with you.

The second option, a common one among many sales organizations, is to convert from lead status to opportunity status as soon as both sides have agreed to a sales meeting and the prospect attended the agreed-upon sales meeting. This is a significant indicator of interest.

The third option is reserved for the leads who are absolutely interested in buying, with pricing used as the ultimate indicator of interest in this area. Once pricing has been broached by either topic, then the lead is ready to be converted to an opportunity.

Sales organizations that opt for options one or two – early conversions from lead status to opportunity – end up with large opportunity pipelines but low win rates. Subsequently, sales organizations that opt for the third option or even later will have small opportunity pipelines that feature huge win rates. Which would you rather have at your organization?

Lead Funnel

Take a look at the lead funnel report above. This organization has created a Salesforce workflow whereby opportunities are converted after four stages – lead created, lead nurtured, marketing-qualified and sales-qualified. According to this report, this organization was only able to turn 364 of a massive list of leads into opportunities to fill the sales pipeline with. Subsequently, the team’s win rate on opportunities was 29%.

However, this sales manager could’ve lowered the standard for when a lead should convert to an opportunity. Could this conversion take place a stage or two earlier, after the lead has engaged with your sales rep or any marketing efforts? Sure it could. If that were the case, the opportunity pipeline suddenly looks a lot more robust, with 1,256 opportunities in there. However, that win rate has now shrunk dramatically, all the way down to a scant 8%. As a sales manager, which is a better indicator of how your business is doing? That is up to you to decide.

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Whatever decision you make on when to convert from lead status in Salesforce to opportunity status, the key is to just understand what your decision means for your sales pipeline and your workflow. Most importantly, be consistent! Make sure your whole team is on the same page about when leads should be converted to opportunities.

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