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Unlocking CRM Success: The Power of Defining Your Sales Process as the Foundation

CRM systems have become integral tools for businesses everywhere to manage and enhance their customer interactions. This has led some businesses to believe that CRM will improve sales by itself. However, implementing a CRM system without a well-defined sales process is like building a house without a solid foundation.

By aligning your sales process with your CRM system, you can streamline your efforts, enhance customer engagement, and increase revenue growth.

During her presentation “Before CRM: Mapping Your Sales Process” at Zoholics 2023, Megan Britt, Zoho’s Sales Engineer, shed light on the transformative impact of a well-defined sales process on CRM implementation. Let’s dive in and explore the insights she shared.

Keep reading to unlock CRM success!🔻

Understanding the Sales Process

A sales process is a sequence of progressive stages that a salesperson employs to move a prospective buyer from the stage of awareness to a closing.

Essentially, it’s a journey that a potential customer takes from the moment they realize they need a product to when they buy the product.

It’s a journey for the prospect and a road map for the salesperson.

CRM Lingo

CRM has specific language for the various terms/modules necessary for your sales process. Since you aim to implement CRM you need to understand these terms/modules.


A lead is a potential buyer i.e., someone with some real or assumed interest in your product or service. Lead is usually an individual your sales will engage with if the interest is confirmed. A lot of leads will not convert into real business. This will be defined through qualification and nurturing of your leads. Leads usually contain raw information, often just contact details, but no real intent to buy what you have to offer is captured.


A contact is someone with a definite interest in your business, a qualified lead (person). They’re actively involved with the sales process. For someone to become a contact they must have passed your qualification criteria and shown some intent signals.


The company information of the contact or a lead becomes an account. Thus an account refers to the organizations that multiple contacts work for.


A lead is converted to a deal (prospect or opportunity). It is important to nurture a lead and take them through the steps of your sales process. By taking your lead through your sales process they become more qualified to become a client AKA Deal.

TIP: You don’t have to use all the modules/ terms. E.g., many don’t use Accounts, especially if you’re a B2C company; some don’t use Deals, especially if there’s no sales cycle and the sale happens instantly.

Main Sales Stages in Zoho CRM

Primary elements of a sales process (1)
Source: “Before CRM: Mapping Your Sales Process” presentation by Megan Britt, Zoho’s Sales Engineer | Zoholics 2023.

Generate leads

The generate stage involves generating potential business. Potential business can be inbound (people come to you because they love your business or have been referred to you) or outbound (through marketing and sales effort).

At this stage you will leverage the Lead Module of your Zoho CRM.

To translate this stage into CRM configuration you need to:

  1. Define what information is important for you to know which can influence the way the communication process and sales push with the prospects will go. For example:
  • What you need to know about your target audience profiles
  • Where do your leads come from
  • What is the essential information you need and what is excessive and will become clutter?
  1. Input leads into CRM. The two simplest ways to get a lead into Zoho CRM is to manually create it or import a bunch of leads from an excel file. In addition, Zoho CRM can automatically register leads from other channels, e.g. website form, social media engagement, or a chatbot.

Sidenote: It is important to input marketing leads into CRM. These leads should be inputted along with definite attributes especially with marketing sources that brought the leads. Doing this would help the salesperson communicate effectively with the lead.

  1. Lastly, configure your default lead settings in your Zoho CRM to the fields you defined above (as a result of #1 and #2 analysis). If you need help with setting up your leads module, you can check out our resources on how to set up your leads module*.
Key fields in crm lead source and lead status
Source: “Before CRM: Mapping Your Sales Process” presentation by Megan Britt, Zoho’s Sales Engineer | Zoholics 2023.

Qualify leads

Not all the leads are equal. There are good leads, bad leads and wrong leads. Hence, it is important to qualify your leads. Failure to qualify leads would result in chasing the wind.

Your process for qualifying leads is up to your company. The CRM setup is dependent on your process for qualifying leads. Once you’ve qualified your lead, your salesperson can begin the sales process with only qualified leads. Doing this ensures a real quality sales process.

For example, in this stage you can do the following:

  • You can determine what steps you want to take to qualify the lead. Do you want to carry out research to enrich the lead data? Do you want to call and ask more questions? These are your potential clients so you know best what would work and what qualities they need to have.
  • Determine who carries out each task. Do you involve marketing? Is an SDR vs. Senior Sales leader involved? Does an appointment scheduler need to schedule a call?
  • Next, you need to know how you assign each task to specific representatives. You need to ask yourself, who is in the best position to carry out an action?
  • Determine “checkboxes” that need to be ticked for a lead to move to the next stage. You need to know what signifies that a lead is qualified.

Sell/ Convert into business

Once you’ve determined that a lead qualifies to be sold to. It’s time to convert that LEAD into a DEAL and move to the Deal module. While moving from the Lead module to the Deal module, Zoho will create an Account if needed and will upgrade your Lead to Contact. An Account refers to the company the lead works for and Contact refers to the real deal (a prospect with definite interest who qualifies)

To make the most out of the Zoho CRM’s Deal Module and to successfully transform your Lead into a Deal, you need to determine:

  • The steps in the sales process you need to take to close a deal. Once you’ve established your sales process, you’ll need to configure them into the CRM.
  • Next, you need to define the criteria that need to be filled before sales can move them to the next sales stage in the deal module
  • The expected time frames for each stage. You should determine the expected timeframe and maintain them. Hence you need to highlight how you want to track/report your timeframe and how to flag it when they’re not being maintained.
  • Tools, resources or information needed for each stage. If any additional job titles are getting involved you also need to figure this out. Lastly, you need to know how you want to inform everyone involved.
  • The metrics that will be tracked to measure the effectiveness of each stage.

It’s important that you determine the above and answer relevant questions before clicking the CRM Settings icon. Then it’s easy to understand whether you’re good with the default simple traditional deal management cycle that Zoho CRM offers or you need to customize these to fit your product/ service/ sales lifecycle.

Setting up your processes with Zoho CRM can be quite tasking without the right manpower. This is where customerization comes in. Customerization as a Zoho Partner can help you set up all your processes and also work you through implementation.


To unlock the full potential of your CRM systems, you need to define, refine, and document your sales process first.
Before crm mapping your sales process
Source: “Before CRM: Mapping Your Sales Process” presentation by Megan Britt, Zoho’s Sales Engineer | Zoholics 2023.

If you’re looking to streamline your business processes and embark on a successful journey, consider seeking the assistance of an expert to help you set up everything in a CRM. We understand that this can be a complex task, which is why we offer a free consultation to provide you with the necessary guidance.

To book your consultation, simply reach out to us at !