Ah, the second selling stage. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? And so it should, because it’s a very important stage. Coming after the first selling stage where you have defined and listed your addressable market, the second selling stage is opportunity definition.

This stage corresponds to the Second Buying Stage of problem / opportunity definition. If your customer has a problem to address, or an opportunity to exploit, then you need to define what the opportunity is for you. This stage is all about qualifying the situation. At this stage there has been some level of engagement between you and the company. Either they’ve reached out to you or you to them.

Don’t get your hopes up yet, however. If you can’t qualify the opportunity to your satisfaction, as far as you should be concerned there is no opportunity. Being ruthless at this stage and discounting the ‘bad’ or non-opportunities is the best thing you can do, because it frees you up to concentrate on – or find – the good opportunities.

So how to qualify? Many people use acronyms like BANT – do they have Budget, do they have Authority to buy, do they have a defined Need, what is the Time limit by when they have to act – to help them define the opportunity. In essence, this sales stage is all about establishing that this is worth your while putting in more effort to pursue the opportunity, over other opportunities. These questions will help you:

– exactly what’s stopping them from doing what they want to do? What’s the problem?

– is there a great fit between what you provide and what they need?

– who are you talking to at the company? are they high enough up the pecking order?

– when do they need to act by?

– what will happen to them if they don’t act?

– what other alternatives are they considering (the biggest two being do nothing and do it ourselves)?

– how can you do a better job for them than the alternatives, and why?

– do you like the odds on getting this deal?

Ideally, you don’t want to deduce the answers to all the above questions, you want the company to confirm the answers for you. All that is, except the third question and the last question. I would keep these answers to yourself and use them to decide the following: am I in, at this stage, or am I out?