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How Do You Define a True Sales Opportunity?

How Do You Define a True Sales Opportunity?

Brian Gardner No Comment

Many companies struggle to identify what an “opportunity” truly is. An opportunity is a qualified lead. It’s not rumor of potential business. It has real potential to move to the quote stage. (Learn what a qualified lead is in this blog post.)

The opportunity stage – in the front end of the sales process – comes before the quote stage. The opportunity stage may be a day, three days, three months or three years. Qualifying an opportunity means determining that your products and services can meet that customer’s needs. On the flip side, it also means that the customer is serious about buying.

And an opportunity requires proactive management to ultimately secure the order.

After an opportunity is identified, a salesperson should dive in and determine what the customer’s real needs are. The opportunity stage is where you differentiate yourself from your competitor. It’s not about just buying a widget; it’s about how that widget is going to work and bring value. It’s also about whether the widget is the right fit for the customer’s needs.

Integrate these questions into your sales process to help your team further qualify and understand opportunities:

  • Who is on the decision team? Answering this helps you determine whether you are covering your bases by interacting with the right people at the customer.
  • Who else is being considered as a potential vendor? This will give you the landscape for your competition. Knowing your competition can help you position your product or service more effectively.
  • What is the reason you want to purchase this product or service? Asking this question will help you position with a value-add or consultative approach. Let the customer know you want to understand the application to ensure you are offering the correct solution and not just selling a product.
  • When will you need a formal proposal? This will tell you where the customer is in the buying cycle and whether it matches where you think it is in your sales cycle.
  • What is the decision process? This will tell you again whether you are interacting with the right people and where they are in the buying cycle.

At the end of the day, you should really care about how many hands you shook or sales visits you made that uncovered opportunity for future business. And the further out you are in the sales cycle, the better off you’ll be as the opportunity moves through the process. Build your credibility and your value-add so when the opportunity moves to the quote stage, rather than your competitor driving the process, you are.

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