When you’re selling, the ‘sale’ is the ideal situation, the end result you’re aiming at. ‘Opportunity’ is the unit of currency that you measure your life by. It represents the collection of granular, discrete items that govern our selling lives and keep us awake at night. This is ironic when you consider that the word ‘opportunity’ means a situation or position that is favorable, rather than unfavorable. If we qualify them properly, we should only have opportunities in our forecast that are opportunities in the true sense of the word.

Managing a sales opportunity, especially a complicated opportunity in a business-to-business situation where the ticket price is high, the process is a series of longish steps, and many people are involved in buying what you have, is about constantly asking yourself one essential question ‘how am I doing?’ More specifically, ‘how am I doing in this opportunity?’ compared with the other competitors eyeing the prize, and compared with the other possible outcomes – apart from you winning – that could result.

There are a number of facets to this question, such as the following:

– what’s the opportunity like?

– how can we win it?

– how can others win it?

– how can we counter them?

– what’s going on inside the buying organisation?

– what’s going on inside the heads of the important people in the buying organisation?

– what is the set of information we need to make the best decisions and what do we need to do to win?

With every important new piece of information about the opportunity, and everything important that happens in the opportunity, you need to pose – and answer – the big question, tweaking your plan of activities for winning accordingly. It’s like plotting your way around a golf course or your ship back to the harbour.

Good opportunity management is about enabling you to respond to the question ‘How you doin’? with an ‘At the moment, I’m doing well, thanks!’ answer.

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