# Sales Pipeline Optimization through Stage History Analysis

“Study the past to define the future,” said Confucius. Businesses that fail are typically those that repeat mistakes made in the past. Historical analysis helps companies to avoid such failures.

In the context of CRM, the analysis of sales stage history is essential for a multitude of key business decisions. A sales stage history gives you the number of potentials (opportunities) in each stage for a particular time period. Stage history analysis reports are now available in the advanced analytics add-on for Zoho CRM. Let us see how this can help you gain useful business insights.

With a chart like the below, you can find the number of potentials in each stage, across the months.

While the above report gives us the number of potentials in each stage, let’s see if we can analyze further. With a typical sales pipeline, you can find the conversion ratio i.e., what fraction of the prospects finally ended up being paid customers.

The above are stage history funnels for consecutive quarters. Both the funnels show the number of potentials in each stage for a particular quarter. The conversion ratio for Q1 is 68/214 which amounts to 31.77%. That is 31.77% of the total potentials created in that period have got converted. Similarly, for Q2 it is 142/287 which is 49.47%. There has been an increase of 17.77% in conversion in Q2 when compared to Q1. By comparing these two funnels stage by stage, we can identify where the problem lies. Let’s do this with a pivot table.

The pivot table shows the conversion percentage of the deals for each stage from its predecessor. The Q1 numbers for ‘Needs Analysis’ stage is far less compared to Q2. Similarly, there’s drop-in conversion observed for the stages ‘Initial Offer’ and ‘Negotiation/Review’. From these insights, your sales team can identify the reasons that triggered a better conversion rate for these stages in Q2, and retain their best practices in the subsequent quarters.

Let’s see another report. Let’s compare the average duration of each stage across quarters.

The average duration of each stage in Q2-14 is far better than in Q1-14. The sales team can be informed about this and can continue in maintaining, or further reducing the stage duration time in the subsequent quarters.

Let’s try one more report on average stage duration. We would want to know how the average stage duration has been for won vs lost deals. From the below chart we can infer that in the end stages of Price Quote and Negotiation, the losing deals have taken an average of a week or more than their winning peers, and eventually failed to convert.

While losing a potential is okay, knowing where you repeatedly lose your potentials could be a game changer for a company. The chart below gives a head to head comparison of the momenta of winning and losing deals. Momentum (or Velocity) refers to how quickly the deals have progressed from one stage to another. With such a chart, you can derive the patterns for winning and losing deals, and try to predict the outcome of a potential by tracking how fast the momentum is, between each of the stages.

Optimizing your sales pipeline will become easier with the help of these stage history reports. The advanced analytics add-on for Zoho CRM powered by Zoho Analytics has been designed meticulously to guide the decision-makers to get previously unknown business insights. Apart from the prepackaged reports and dashboards, you can easily create ad-hoc reports on your own for further analysis.