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Use the Salesforce Stage Duration for Maximum Benefit

Many Salesforce customers can get additional benefits from their investment by using the data generated from Sales Stages and in particular Stage Duration.

Stage Duration is a count of the number of days an opportunity is in a particular Sales Stage. When you change a Sales Stage the counter starts until you change it again. It's often used to understand how long a salesperson is taking to move through sales stages and often an important indicator of the health of an opportunity or pipeline. If a Sales Stage has lingered within a particular stage for too long it allows management to ask questions about the likelihood of the deal succeeding.

Let's start with the standard functionality of the Stage Duration field.

  • You can't show the field on a page layout. look through all standard fields on the opportunity object and it's missing. Salesforce Lightning does allow you to hover your mouse pointer over the current sales stage and you'll see the Stage Duration value in a pop-up screen item
  • The data is only available through standard reports. As above, build a custom report and the Stage Duration field won't be available
  • Unless you set a validation rule, moving through Sales Stages isn't sequential. Therefore if I move from “Qualification” to “Closed Won” after 2 days, missing, say 5 stages, the Stage Duration will be 2 days for Qualification with no data for any subsequent stages. That may or not be an issue.

To view Sales Duration data you need to generate an Opportunity History report.

  • Click Reports
  • Select Opportunity History
  • Click Create
  • Use Quick Find to get the Stage Duration field and drag into your columns

You now have a report showing Opportunities, From Stage, To Stage and the Stage Duration.

If you want averages then;

  • Sum by the Stage Duration field
  • Make the report a Summary Report
  • Summarise by the To Stage
  • If you don't want Opportunity detail then click on Show and de-select Details

To get value from calculated averages you need a lot of opportunities. A smaller sample size will allow outliers to affect averages. For example, we currently have an Opportunity stuck at Price/Proposal where it's been for over 60 days. It's a real but unusual situation and having an impact on the average number of days in the Sales Stage.

Personally, I don't like using averages because past performance becomes a metric for a future metric. That could be unhealthy if your Sales Team have been performing below capability. You risk poor performance becoming the company standard.

My preferred approach is to agree timeframes for each stage duration and measure actual performance against those timeframes. This isn't standard functionality and needs some custom fields and the intervention of Process Builder.

To make this work, follow these steps;

  • Create a date field for each sales stage. Call them something like “Opportunity Target Date”, etc.
  • Create a Process Builder workflow to populate each date field based on today() + target end date when the opportunity is created.
  • Or, enter an Opportunity start date custom field on the Opportunity form and use that instead of today(). This means you can change the effective start date of the opportunity if the the client changes their planned dates.
  • Create a custom checkbox with a formula that is true when the the target date of the current sales stage is in the past.
  • Build a report that filters the true checkboxes from the opportunities to provide a list of Opportunities that are behind their expected Sales Stage Target Date.

The time to configure these tricks is is a few hours, although the time to agree the number of days will probably be longer. This simple method can give you more meaningful data about your sales pipeline to help accelerate deals and use resources more effectively.


☏ 01494 590428 | ✉ hello@commerceworks.net