What is an opportunity record in CRM

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What is the difference between a lead and an opportunity in CRM

A Lead is an unqualified opportunity or deal. When a Lead is qualified, the system converts it into three records: Opportunity (Deal), Contact (and Account in a Business-to-Business market). 

A Lead is qualified when the following conditions are met:

  1. The client knows what they want to buy – it’s not enough that you know what the client wants to buy. They must have some idea. Otherwise, there is no opportunity to sell
  2. The prospect has some idea of how much they need to budget for what they want to buy—if they don’t have access to funds or can’t get access, this is not an opportunity.
  3. The prospect has some idea when they will want what you sell based on a compelling reason they share with you. A lead isn’t an opportunity if the prospect doesn’t have a rational explanation for knowing when they will buy.
  4. They are either the decision maker, or you are confident they can get you to the decision maker. Be careful here as I can’t tell you how many times a contact has told me they make the decision and then tell me it has to go to their boss at the last minute.
  5. There is a following action – if there isn’t a subsequent action, then this isn’t an opportunity.

Understanding the lead qualification process is crucial for sales professionals. It ensures that the person you are trying to sell to can buy and has a reason to buy. While it may seem obvious that you can’t sell to someone who can’t buy, this understanding can save a lot of a salesperson’s time. It also allows you to confidently focus your efforts on the right opportunities.


What does an Opportunity (Deal) record do in CRM

The Opportunity record has at least four functions in a CRM:

It tracks the process of the sale

Normally, this involves tracking the sale through a sales process. However, this sales process must reflect the buyer’s buying process. Businesses rarely pay attention to this aspect, so pipelines (see below) are often works of fiction. For the same reason, it is also critical, BUT RARE, that movement to sales stages in a process is associated with OBJECTIVE evidence that this is valid.

It gives you a view of the sales value you are working on

This analysis is often called the “Sales Funnel” because its shape reflects that opportunities drop out at each stage of the sales process, so you would expect more at the top than at the bottom (close) stage. 

Most systems calculate an expected value for each opportunity based on its sales stage. The idea is that as the potential sale gets nearer to closure, it is more likely to close. This expectation is then used to adjust the expected sales value. 

Aggregating this expected value of opportunities at each stage will give you an adjusted value for all the sales you are working in total and at each stage of the sales cycle.

The Opportunity record plays a crucial role in helping you track sales value against what it needs to be month on month (quarter by quarter) to achieve your business goals

By providing a clear view of your sales pipeline, it reassures you about your progress and enables you to take proactive steps to meet your targets, instilling a sense of confidence in your sales strategy.

At its simplest, you can track actual sales value against the targets or forecasted value. Or, if you know how long in average sales stay at each stage and the ratio between those that progress and those that fall out, you can anticipate the likely performance against target months before they are delivered.If you can do this, you can identify likely shortfalls in sales well ahead of time so that you can take mitigating action.

Planning the sale

The opportunity record will also track tasks, meetings, and calls (activities), both completed and yet to be done and who should be doing them. These could be internal tasks as well as client-facing ones.

Manages and organizes all the communications with the suspect 

the opportunity record will bring together notes of the calls made, all the emails sent, and whether they have been opened, along with the results of meetings. Documents can also be attached, and the record can be associated with all the quotations sent to the client (see below)

The Opportunity record fosters collaboration among stakeholders

 In CRM, stakeholders refer to individuals or groups interested in or affected by the opportunity or deal. A significant benefit of an opportunity or deal record is that it brings together all the communications with the client, along with all the tasks and who is responsible for them.

This single view is essential where one person is involved but crucial where several stakeholders are involved, enabling effective communication and task management.

What other CRM records are associated with an opportunity (deal) record?

Four records are commonly associated with an opportunity or deal record in a CRM which are:


Each opportunity could have more than one contact record associated with it, and more than one opportunity could be related to a single contact. In database design, this is known as a many-to-many relationship, meaning that multiple records in one table can be associated with various records in another. CRM manages this relationship through a record called ‘role ‘. Each contact plays a role within each opportunity, including:

    • User – someone who can influence the decision and could also be the source of information on how things work day to day
    • Technical Buyer – an example might be the CTO. This type of contact can say no to the company buying what you sell, BUT THEY CAN’T SAY YES.
    • Decision Maker – back in the day, we called this the MAN – Means, Ability, and Need. In other words, the person who can buy
    • Coach – the person in the company who can tell you how to sell what you have to them and to whom.


This record is only relevant to Business-to-Business markets. In CRM, an account refers to a company or organization you are doing business with. Each opportunity can have only one account associated with it, but there can be more than one opportunity for each. In Business-to-Business markets, the account-to-opportunity relationship is critical because a potential sale remains an opportunity even if a contact leaves the company.


A CRM quotation is a document confirming the price for which you are willing to provide a service or deliver products. It is a formal offer to sell at a specific price. From the dim recesses of GCE Law some 50 years ago, the prospect offers to buy at this price – but let’s not go there.

In the negotiation, there may be more than one version of a quotation, which will automatically calculate the net price after discounts and tax. It is then sent as a branded template to the prospect. So, more than one quotation record can be associated with one Opportunity or Deal.


The product record can be associated directly with an Opportunity, but more commonly, it is a Line Item with the quote. That is because there can be more than one product (or productized service) associated with a quote and more than one associated with a Product. So this is another many-to-many relationship (see above).

The product record will typically confirm the standard price and the units in which the product (productized service) is supplied. In ZOHO, this also includes the stock available so that the salesperson knows whether this product is available or needs to be purchased, which may result in delays.

Product records can also be associated (in ZOHO) with price books to auto-calculate special prices based on quantity discounts or those negotiated in a framework.

(For clarity, Hubspot and other Marketing and Sales focused CRMs do not, as standard, offer quotations or product records)

Standard Automation for Opportunities (Deal) records

One standard automation for Opportunity or Deal records is the configuration of an approval process where special pricing is offered, or the quantities and value are exceptionally high and could impact the business. Approval can be configured as a single direct report or a sequence of approvers involving more than one.

The opportunity or deal record is locked until approved, and the sale must stay open.

What third-party systems are associated with an Opportunity or Deal record in CRM

Often (in ZOHO), the opportunity or deal record is also associated with several other apps, which can be third-party ones, but more often in ZOHO, which has a platform of 40-plus applications with others that are part of this. The two most common ones are ZOHO Project and ZOHO Finance.

Are you getting enough from your Opportunity or Deal Record?

You can see from what has been said that the Opportunity or Deal record is central to the CRM System. So, are you using your Opportunity Record in the best way for your business? Some of the key questions you could ask are:

How can I get more accurate sales forecasts?

How can I close more of the business I should be closing?

How can I improve the performance of my team?

These will be the topics of other blogs, but if you can’t wait that long and need to talk about this now, then contact me at nick@successinbusiness.co.uk or 07983784816


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