Deal Basics


A deal is a sales opportunity you are trying to win. The whole point of sales is to win deals. You can’t have a sale without a deal.

To have a deal, you must know who your customer is, and what you are trying to sell to them. You may also be able to estimate how much they will buy, your success probability, and when they may decide.

Deals are the most important records in your CRM system. Take time to understand what they are and how they are used to manage sales.

In TeamGram, sales opportunities are called deals. Every separate opportunity to make a sale is a separate deal.

It is also important to understand what a deal is not:

  • A deal is not necessarily a “done deal”
    You may still be working on it. You may or may not be able to sell at the end. Your customer may not have accepted your terms yet. You may not even know what you will be selling in the end. As far as TeamGram is concerned, it is still a deal you are working on.
  • A deal is not a “customer”
    Every deal must have a potential customer. That doesn’t mean a deal and a customer are the same thing. You can have multiple deals with the same customer, and sometimes even negotiate them simultaneously. The same customer may decide to go with you in some deals and with another vendor in others.
  • A deal is not a “quote”
    A quote (sometimes called an offer, or proposal) is a document that outlines the terms at which you propose to work with your customer. During the course of a deal, you may have to send multiple quotes to your customer. Your customer may reject your quote, and ask you to make changes multiple times, and may still buy at the end.
  • A deal is not an “order”
    You want to get an order at the end of the deal, but the two are not the same thing. The order is merely a document you receive from your customer detailing exactly what they want to buy. It is their response to your quote. In some cases, you may also get multiple orders as part of the same deal. When you start negotiating a deal, you may not even know what the customer will eventually buy, so from a sales management standpoint, the order is not something you can work with until later in the sales cycle.

Who Owns A Deal?

When reporting sales performance, TeamGram attributes deals to their owners. Make sure the person responsible for a deal (account executive, sales rep, etc.) is its designated owner.

Note that the person who creates a deal automatically becomes its initial owner, but that person (or a manager) can then designate another user as the deal’s owner.

The Customer of a Deal

You can only talk about a deal if you can identify the potential buyer. Your customer can be either an individual (contact) or a business (company).

Naming Your Deals

As soon as you identify a sales opportunity, you must create a deal for it in TeamGram. To do that, you must name your deal. Naming is important. While TeamGram lets you give any name to your deals, it is good practice to have a company policy about naming your deals. Consider the following guidelines:

  • Don’t be vague:
    Your deal name must reflect what the sales opportunity is. Try to be specific about who the buyer is and what they may buy or what the project is.
    Example: If you are in the business of selling floor coverings, “Carpet project #23” is not a very good name. A name like “Carpets for Excelsior Hotel Renovation Project” describes what the deal is about without having to lookup any other details.
  • Don’t be too restrictive:
    You will name your deals at the very beginning of the sales cycle. You may have very little information available then. The scope may turn out to be different, once the deal evolves. You don’t want to have misleading deal names.
    Example: “700 sq mt carpets for Excelsior Hotel Lobby” is probably not a great name. Who knows, they may want to buy carpets for other parts of the hotel and you may end up selling a lot more than 700 sq. mt. as part of that deal.
  • Try to keep them short:
    Deal names are used in lists and reports where space may be limited if you are working on a small screen or mobile device. Try to keep your deal names under 5-6 words and place the most descriptive words at the beginning. That will make it easier to understand what a deal is about, even if part of the name is truncated.
    Example: Imagine you have to select a deal in a report where names are truncated, because there is not enough space on the screen. Which one is better: “Excelsior Hotel …” or “Carpets for E…”?

The Status of a Deal

A deal can be either open or closed. Each of these states also have some sub-states:

  • Open: An open deal is a deal you are still working on and hoping to win. The customer has not reached a decision yet. These are the deals that take up most of a sales team’s time. Open deals have two sub-states that better describe what’s going on with them:
    • Active: Active deals are the ones where all the action is. You are actively engaging the customers and working to win their business.
    • On-hold: These are deals that are still open –meaning the customer has not reached a decision yet– but the sales process is not moving forward due to an external factor. A typical case is when the buyer is going through a management change, during which time most buying decisions are delayed. You don’t want to mark these deals as closed, because you hope to continue with the selling once conditions change. On the other hand, you don’t want to mark them as active either, because you will not be spending much time on them.
  • Closed: A closed deal is one where the customer has reached a final decision. That decision may or may not be in your favor. The important thing is, you will not be spending your time on closed deals. In TeamGram, we have 4 sub-states that describe how they were closed:
    • Won: If your customer has decided to buy from you, congratulations. You’ve won the deal.
    • Lost: If your customer has decided to buy from a competitor, that means you’ve lost that deal.
    • Cancelled: If your customer has decided not to buy from anyone, the deal is marked as cancelled.
    • Abandoned: If you’ve decided not to pursue this deal any more, it is marked as abandoned.

Having up-to-date status information for each of your deals is very important. TeamGram helps you focus on open deals and uses the information in them to help you make forecasts, while using closed deals to report your past performance. If the states are not set correctly, the information you get out of your CRM will be less meaningful.

Deal Pipeline and Stages

We use the pipeline metaphor to describe the overall sales process. When you create a deal, it enters the pipeline from the left. It then gradually moves to the right and hopefully emerges at the other end as a win.

Knowing which deals are new, which deals are in the pipeline, and which ones are won is good, but you probably need more information to manage the sales process. More specifically, you will want to know where in the pipeline each deal is.

A good way to do that is to break down the pipeline into distinct stages. You can probably name the stages a typical deal goes through in your business.

Example: A company selling floor coverings can have distinct deal stages for initial meetings, request for proposal, negotiation, and contract signing. Note that there is a natural order to these stages. A customer who has never met you probably will not request a proposal. You can’t submit a proposal and negotiate with a client if they have not requested a proposal from you first. You will not get to contract signing, if negotiations are not over.

The stages each deal goes through can vary from business to business. That’s why they are customizable in TeamGram. Once you decide which stages are meaningful in your business, you can easily determine the stage of each of your deals. That helps you understand how the deals are distributed along your pipeline.

This is important for several reasons:

  • Better insight into how your pipeline works
    Visualizing your pipeline and placing your deals in the right stages along that pipeline makes it easier to understand how the pipeline works. Some businesses lose a lot of deals at the negotiation stage. Others may need a lot of initial meetings just to receive a few requests for proposal. Watching the pipeline helps you understand if you have enough deals in the right stages to hit your targets and where to make improvements.
  • Better planning
    Knowing the stages of your deals in the pipeline helps you better predict future sales, and make plans accordingly. What does it mean to have 10 deals in the pipeline? Having 10 deals in initial stages and no deals in final stages is one thing. Having no deals in initial stages and 10 deals in final stages is a completely different thing.
  • Better focus
    Different issues have priority in different stages. If you have too few deals in initial stages, you may want to ramp up marketing and lead generation. If you have a lot of deals in later stages, you may want to pay more attention to capacity planning. Knowing the stage of a deal helps you focus on what matters most.

Constantly review and update the stage of each of your deals, so your pipeline always shows a realistic view of your open deals.

Probability, Expected Closing Date and Amount

The probability, expected closing date and expected amount of a deal are used in forecasting.

The probability is the likelihood of closing a sale. It is a subjective value, and it takes some experience to estimate probabilities.

The expected closing date is the time you think the customer will reach a final decision. This too can be difficult to estimate, and requires some experience.

Finally the expected amount is the total value of the sale you are hoping to make as part of this deal.

Over the course of the deal, all of these may change. A deal you initially thought to be easy to win may turn out to be not so easy as more competitors come in to play. The scope of the project may change to include more items and its value may increase. The buyer may take more time than initially thought to make a decision.

In order to make accurate forecasts, update your deals frequently with new probability, closing date and value estimates.

Your Next Step in a Deal

Chances are, you will have multiple deals in your pipeline at any given time. It can be difficult to plan and keep track of all the steps that will need to be performed in each of them in any probable scenario. In any case, those steps will change depending on many factors including the customer’s requests and competitor’s moves.

A good way to deal with that complexity is to always plan one step ahead in every deal. When that step is completed, plan the step after that.

In TeamGram, you can enter your next step for every deal, along with the planned execution date. TeamGram makes sure you remember it at the right time, allowing you to work on more deals.

Example: If your customer has requested a proposal, your next step will be to submit a proposal next Monday. Once you do that, you may change your next step to making a follow-up call 3 days later. If during that follow-up call, your customer requests to see the contract draft, you can change your next step to sending the draft in 2 days.

Next steps are prominently displayed with deal information, so anyone looking at the deal details will immediately know what is coming up or if a step is overdue.

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