A key factor in sales account management—and of course in opportunity management—is fully identifying a sales opportunity.
That begins with answering some key questions about the opportunity itself. The answers can be researched by salespeople themselves or, probably better, by inside sales reps or sales assistants before an opportunity gets forwarded onto salespeople. That way sales reps can remain fully focused on working viable sales that have already been fully qualified.
Clearly Defining the Opportunity
Defining an opportunity can only be done through communication with the prospect company, as in-depth as possible. It may be possible with the initial person who contacted you in the first place, or gaining a clear opportunity definition may require talking to others within the company who are closer to the issue or issues requiring a solution.
It begins with the key business issues the company would like to solve. Don’t examine such issues through the lens of your solution, not yet; instead take an objective view of their problems. A bit further on you will be aligning your solution with the issues to see how well they fit together.
Engage your initial contact at your target company and discover the exact reason or reasons they have interest in what you are offering. If the target company has come to you as part of a project, you should find out as much about that project and its objectives as you can.
A Compelling Event
Oftentimes it happens that a particular event has occurred which compelled the company to seek out a solution. For example a database may have finally proven itself too inflexible or unstable, and the company is going to be in serious trouble if that database is not quickly replaced.
In such an instance you want to discover some negatives: what are the consequences of not following through on finding and implementing a viable solution? What might be the losses of not taking action?
Additionally you want to discover any deadline for the potential client to make a decision on the solution.
A Good Fit
Once you have researched the above two points, then take a detailed look at how well your product or service fits in. This is the basic key of sales account management, and will be the crux of your sales pitch all the way along the sales cycle.
A Strong Case for Investing
Another factor you will need to look at is your prospect company’s “case for investing” in your product or service.
Under this heading come financial considerations. Most basic of these, from your standpoint, is the company’s financial outlook. If you’re dealing with a public company, their financial status is best obtained by looking over a quarterly or annual report which is usually publicly available. If it is a private company obtaining such information can be more problematic; put your sales technique to work and get someone to speak frankly with you. A company on shaky financial ground may be tough for your company to collect from, so this is very important data to have.
Part of the “case for investing” is discovering if there is already an allocated budget for obtaining your product or service. If not, will there be, and when? In either case you should find out how much it is to make sure your offering fits within it.
Priority is also a key factor here. How much of a priority is the obtaining of a product or service such as yours? How does it rate against other company projects or acquisitions? How does this purchase fit in with company strategy?
Free Opportunity Qualifier Tool
The above points have been assembled into a free tool you can utilize in qualifying any opportunity. This Opportunity Qualifier Tool is part of a free Opportunity Evaluation Toolkit that will allow you to proceed along the sales cycle with a higher degree of confidence.
Ultimately, you should always incorporate this kind of information into your sales process and CRM solution. That way it is accessible to anyone needing it, including yourself and your sales management.
Click here to download your free opportunity evaluation tool.