Tag Archives: opportunities

Are All Opportunities Created Equal?


The answer, of course, is NO!

But if you are like most organizations, I would wager that you and your sales team have a natural tendency to “shoot at anything that moves.”

Acting with the discipline to treat opportunities differently depending on their qualification can pay huge dividends as a return on organizational effort.

We all have a limited set of differentiated offerings.  It is also true that available time for selling is tighter than ever before.  So it makes the manner in which you identify, qualify, and pursue opportunities a higher stakes game than ever before.

In his re-creation of Michal T. Bosworth’s concepts in The New Solution Selling, author Keith M. Eades draws one key distinction that can be helpful in sorting the wheat from the chaff.  The image above is a modified version of the “Solution Selling Process Flow Chart Model.”  In it you will notice that opportunities fall into two types: “Latent,” where the client is not actively looking, but your solution is a strong fit; and “Active,” where the client is looking for a solution to a specific problem, and your solution may be a strong fit. 

You can quickly sort opportunities at your firm into these two types as one way to triage potential pursuits and if/how you are going to manage them.

Sales to Latent opportunities are typically longer (more nurturing, education and collaboration with clients) but also generate less competition and more profit per deal.

Sales to Active opportunities need to be scrutinized (what is our unique win strategy?  What is our profit position? Should we pursue?) but are often a faster path to closure.

The challenge is not to develop the perfect process, but to begin to differentiate the way in which you engage on pursuits. 

Interesting things will happen when you do.   Your hit rate should increase,  you should see a higher return on your effort, and people on your team will begin to feel that you are playing to win.

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Before Proposing – ALWAYS Ask for a Meeting


Here is a little pre-Thanksgiving humor for my sales compatriots out there courtesy of Scott Adams.  If you’ve ever been in this sales situation, you’ll get a kick out of the Dilbert strip above.  Scott has a great site by the way, where you can buy relevant strips for your marketing efforts.

So what’s the lesson here? I have given up on responding to vague and/or rushed RFPs, and I would recommend you do the same.  If the prospective client is not willing to sit down with you and work through some basic questions that will allow you to craft a response both more accurate and relevant to them, you’re probably column-fodder on their spreadsheet anyway.

I can’t tell you how many times early in my career I took valuable time (in some cases all night) responding to a long RFP for which I knew in the pit of my stomach we had no prayer of winning.

Now, asking for the “pre-proposal discovery meeting” has become a valuable step in qualifying the opportunity before burning the resources to craft a solution and response.

Don’t let your Pointy Haired Boss make you work all day Thursday unless you have had your meeting.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday Strategy: Make it a 10-Point Day


It’s the end of the week.  Depending on how yours went, you either have 20 pounds of sand and a 10 pound bag and you’re wondering how your going to get it done, or maybe you are at the end of a long week and wondering if you have the steam to keep going and finish strong. 

Either way, here’s an idea:  Make it a 10-point day.

Give yourself a weighted value for key activities accomplished.  Specifics may vary here, just make it a stretch.  For example: 5 points for a contract, 3 points for an executive meeting, 2 points for an executive phone conversation, 1 point for any buyer touch-point like a nice email/voicemail combo.  Now, try to  reach or beat a total of 10 points today.

Hope you need a calculator!

Sales from Non-Sales Staff – Guaranteed To Increase Pipeline


You set sales goals for your sales reps.  You work these goals with the sales team aggressively.  But, when is the last time you checked in with your non-sales staff on the topic of business development?  There are typically orders of magnitude more non-sales than sales staff in an organization.  In my company, for example, the ratio is greater than 10-1.  Even a  small uptick in the effectiveness of this larger group to identify and qualify opportunities on which the sales team can then follow-up can have a substantial top line impact.  At your next all hands meeting, why not have some sales training for non-sales professionals?  Multiply your “feet on the street.”  Do the math, it’s worth it!