Sales Force Automation (SFA) needs analysis, planning and fitment to your specific processes. Here are some ideas to help you implement SFA for your company.

This document is meant to help Impel customers either design their sales process or, in most cases, reflect their sales processes in Impel. This is not meant to be a Sales Manual! Please use the comments in this document as a possible guideline, not as Inalienable Truths!

Data Components

First, here are some of the major components of data that go to make a complete Sales Process. 

Users. These are people who use Impel on a regular basis. They are mostly salespeople and their managers (in this context), but can include other personnel in an organization who will review sales and operations, upload and correct data as needed and so on. 
Contacts. These are human beings whose information and transactions you want to track in Impel. They may mostly be people you want to sell to, but they can also include people who work for Partner companies. 
Accounts. These are companies and other organizations whose information you want track in Impel. They may mostly be companies that you want to sell to, but they could also include Partners and other such organizations that participate in your "eco-system". Optionally, Contacts can be tied to one or more Accounts. Other transactions in Impel like Opportunities, Quotes, Orders, Invoices and Collections can also be tied to Accounts. 
Territories. A Territory is a qualifier on a set of data that is accessible to a specific user and his/her managers and no one else. For example, a Territory called Delhi can include Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities in the Delhi region that can only be read by the salesperson in charge of Delhi. Another Territory called Large Accounts can include large companies who are targeted by one specific salesperson. You will find more information about Territory management here.

Sales Process

The way we typically look at Sales in Impel (and in most Sales situations other than in Dealer-network-based sales) is in three Phases – a Lead phase, an Opportunity phase and a Customer phase.

The Lead Phase

A Lead is analogous to a business card – very sketchy information about the prospect himself/herself, no or very little information about whether the prospect is actually looking for a product like yours and so on. In most cases, the Lead has a person's name, possibly the company s/he works for, email ID and/or phone number, possibly an address. In Impel, it is possible to tag products that s/he may be interested in, too, if so configured. A Lead can be created in a number of ways:

  • By entering details online, using the Impel Add Lead function
  • By uploading data using the Impel Upload Leads function
  • By receiving a Lead via a Web2Lead configuration from another website
  • By receiving a Lead via a SMS based on an SMS2Lead configuration.

Once created, a Lead can be followed up on via a series of Activities – calls, emails, etc. All those Activities can be recorded in Impel against that Lead.
The Lead has some advantages and some disadvantages:

  • Leads are a great way to get clutter out of your main lists. So people/companies that you don't work with on a regular basis can remain Leads till they actually express an interest in your product/services. They will appear as a Contact or an Account only when converted.
  • Adding a Lead in an exiosting Account will connect that Lead to the existing Account, so there's no duplication of data.
  • Leads being separated from, say, Contacts means that they won't appear anywhere else - particularly in Reports. You need to run separate reports on Leads. So, for example, if you want to send an email to every human being whom your company has ever heard of or has ever heard of you, you will need to send one to all your Contacts and a separate one to all your Leads.

Leads are best used when you are in a B2C (Business-to-Consumer) business and are not that interested in the company that your prospect works for. If, on the hand, you expect to work with your prospect mostly becaue s/he is in a specific position in a specific company, we suggest you don't use Leads at all as an object. Instead, you could establish an Opportunity Stage called Lead or Suspect or some4 such initial wording. So all the people you can connect with will be Contacts and all the companies you can connect with will be Accounts, of varioous Types.

The Opportunity Phase

The Opportunity Phase begins in Impel when a Lead is converted to an Opportunity or when an Opportunity is created anew. An Opportunity defines a fairly high probability that a particular person (or company, in a B2B situation) will buy a product like yours. S/he may never buy, s/he may not buy from you, etc. But there is a high probability that s/he WILL buy in the near future (the "near" being defined by the typical sales cycle in your business).

As we've said above, you can create a new Opportunity directly. Or, you can take an existing Lead and "convert" that into an Opportunity by clicking on the link on the Lead display (or on the Lead line-level menu, in the June 2010 user-interface). When you do that, the following things happen:

  • company-related information on the Lead will be used to create an Account
  • person-related information will be used to create a Contact
  • opportunity-related information will be used to create an Opportunity, in the first "Stage" available (see below for detail about Stages)
  • products tied to the Lead will now be tied to the Opportunity that was created
  • Activities that were tied to the Lead will be tied to the Account, Contact and Opportunity created.

In the Opportunity phase, an Opportunity can go through multiple Stages. Typical Stages are things like Qualified Lead, Prospect, Active Consideration, Negotiation and Sale. Stages can be set up in Impel with a sequence, implying that, say, a Qualified Lead moves to a Prospect Stage and thereon to Negotiation, etc. in an ideal situation.

When you define the Stages that are applicable to your business, we suggest you think about what specific events or data elements move an Opportunity from one stage to another – forwards or backwards. Here are some examples:

  • You may decide that a Lead should be converted when you have had a real conversation about your product with the prospect and you believe s/he WILL buy something like it in the next 90 days. Let your users know about that very clearly.
  • You could say that a Qualified Lead is someone who has the potential to buy a product like your, but may not have decided to do so. If yours is a business where you help the prospect identify a need for your product (and not just sell it when s/he knows s/he needs it), then this distinction is critical.
  • A Prospect may be someone who WILL buy a product like yours in a reasonable time-frame (90 days, say), but may not yet have decided to buy from you. At this stage, you have identified not just that s/he has the potential to buy, but that s/he has decided to buy – that's a point to look around at competition, budget and so on.
  • An Opportunity in the Active Consideration stage means that the prospect has decided to buy and is actively considering your specific product or solution. That usually means competitors have been identified, initial features-benefits and pricing discussions have taken place and, in general, there's a positive indication from the prospect that you are one of a short list of potential vendors to choose from.
  • When an Opportunity moves to a situation where the prospect is talking specifically about pricing, you're a lot surer that you are one of two or three players s/he is talking to. In some businesses, this Stage may never occur, but in most businesses, particularly for larger deals, this is typical. It may also be a Stage where a salesperson can invoke "higher authority" for meetings and for hedging demands for discounting.
  • The Sale Stage is obviously the best, capping a process that's probably taken weeks and lots of work to go through. You can change the Stage to this, change the Opportunity Status (more about that below) as Closed and mark the related Account and/or Contact as a Customer (possibly via an Account Type or Contact Type).

The Opportunity Status is an adjunct to Stages and can be used to track Open, Closed and Lost Opportunities. The Status gives you a simple, direct way of summarizing your pipeline in comparison the deals that have been won and deals that have been lost. In Impel, on the same on-screen control where you can change an Opportunity's Stage, you can also instead mark it as Lost and assign a Lost Reason to it. This gives you ways to analyze the reasons for losing deals, possibly in relation to the Stage at which a deal was lost. That data can be used to tweak your positioning, pricing, pitch, etc. at different Stages.

Auto Stage Change

A unique feature in Impel is the ability to set up rules that govern the movement of opportunities among the Stages. Consider a situation where, based on prior experience, you know you prospects will move from Active Consideration to Negotiation within 30 days or so. And, if they don't, that usually signifies that you are no longer a real option that they are considering for their purchase. To reflect that reality in your reporting and general process is very important, so salespeople can focus on the deals that have a high probability of closing in your favour. You can then use Impel's Auto Stage Change function to write a rule such that, if an opportunity stays in the Active Consideration for (say) 45 days, it is automatically moved backwards to Qualified Lead (or some other Stage that you choose).


Obviously, the description in this document is not the only way to do things. And it certainly is not the only way Impel can handle things. Everything from Territories through Stages, Lost Reasons and Types can be configured by your Impel Administrator. You can make Impel work the way you want it to, even without Opportunities, as would be the case in a dealer-network-based model (where salespeople work with retailers/dealers to pick up orders and ensure delivery). This document is meant to be something that raises some questions and suggests some possible ways of dealing with them, but certainly not the only ways to do that.

All the best for some terrific selling!