In recent years, opportunity evaluation within sales strategies has been being given a prime level of importance. The reasons for this may or may not seem obvious, but for anyone that has gotten halfway through a sales cycle and had it fall apart, it starts becoming clear that the more fully an opportunity is evaluated, the better the chances of it going all the way to a close.
But there are different hats worn within a sales force. There is the “farmer,” who seeks out and qualifies leads. There are inside sales reps who work lukewarm leads to make them hot before forwarding onto sales reps. There are also the reps themselves, who cultivate opportunities and go for the close. Some sales forces have the expert closers, that come in only when the sales rep can’t seem to bring it all the way home. For each of these, evaluation of an opportunity has its own level of detail.
The Front End
At the front end of the pipeline at the lead generation stage, the primary elements of information consist of knowing that a prospect company is in the relevant industry, has a potential budget for making a purchase, and has some interest in your company’s product or service. The timeline for purchase may or may not have been determined at this point, and there is much left to find out. But a lead so qualified is usually good enough to be forwarded to an inside sales rep for further cultivation.
As the Lead is Nurtured
Many companies today engage a lead management strategy in which teams of inside sales reps nurture leads before sending them onto sales reps. This nurturing of leads leaves sales reps free to work opportunities that are actually qualified and nearer the ideal state of “ready to purchase.”
While that lead is being nurtured, the inside reps should of course gather further information as part of the opportunity evaluation process. At this stage it is good to know the target company’s buying process; when a budget might be approved for purchase if the company decides on your product or service; the event or situation that prompted the target company’s interest; what competitive products or services are being considered; and other details that will be useful to the salesperson that ultimately takes it over.
Evaluation by Sales Rep
When a salesperson receives a lead that has been “hotted up” by inside sales, there is further information the rep will want to gather. At this point motivation becomes key: what is the prime motivation that is compelling this company to purchase? For each of the decision makers, what is motivating them personally? How well does your product or service fit in with the target company’s strategy?
It is also advantageous for the rep to look deeper into the buying process. In addition to the “official” decision makers, who else might influence the purchase? With whom (besides the primary contact) should the sales rep connect directly, if possible and if needed?
The competitive landscape should be fully scoped out as well. Are one or more of your competing products or services being evaluated alongside yours? Has your target company dealt with your competitors in the past, and does a competitor already have an established relationship? What is known about potential competitors’ strategy, so that it can be countered when needed or even in advance if possible?
As the sales rep continues this qualification process all the way along the line, the chances of the close become greater. This activity is vital to all sales strategies.
Importance of CRM Solution in Opportunity Evaluation
For each of these levels of opportunity evaluation, a leading-edge CRM solution is a must. Only when every member of the sales force can rapidly access crucial information about a sale, quickly understand where it is in the sales process, and be able to utilize CRM to move it to the next stage, can opportunity management be fully engaged.
All sales strategies should include these various levels of opportunity evaluation. Know before you go—and win a higher percentage of closed sales.