Qualifying the Opportunity

Although it sounds pretty basic, why do so many sales reps focus on the wrong type of deals over and over again and still lose, but equally so, why does sales management allow it to happen?  It’s a huge waste of valuable time.

Qualifying the Opportunity is an activity that helps you decide if a prospect is a good fit for your organization’s products and/or services to pursue.  Too much time can be wasted pursuing a bad prospect.  If you consider key criteria while researching and having your first communications with the prospect, you will quickly be able to determine how likely it is that this opportunity will result in a sale.

Defining sweet spots for organizations is an output of the qualification process and exercise.  The key criteria for qualifying the opportunity will vary, depending on the nature of your business.  Regardless of what you are selling, the prospect will generally fall into one of the three following categories: Sweet spot, could be interested and unlikely to be interested.

When coaching our clients, we like to think of it as a traffic light.  As you may have guessed, a green light means go, a yellow light means to proceed with caution and a red light says to put your efforts elsewhere.  If you have done the necessary homework and research and understand your organization’s agreed upon criteria while qualifying the opportunity you can then combine your findings to see if this is a good prospect to pursue.  The more green lights, the better.  If you have all yellows then BE CAREFUL as these could become a huge waste of time with no close.  Some opportunities may fall into the red light category.  Red means STOP, why continue?  If there are a lot of reds then STAY AWAY, you have better things to do.  My only caveat to this, over time things change, the red light opportunity may change and become a green light.  So set your callback every 3-6 months.  In the meantime, pursue an account that is more likely to become a successful opportunity.

There’s always the exception and it should be an exception.  Remember: The traffic light scenarios are field proven guidelines, hopefully well researched and implemented from actual deals, win/loss etc.  Every situation is different!  If you feel strongly that you should pursue a red light account, talk with your supervisor about it first, please.  If they agree, move ahead carefully and make sure that you have a well thought out plan in place.

Finally ALWAYS qualify no matter what the sales step until you receive that signature and check.  Good Selling!!!

Click the links if you’re interested in learning how SRi can help your organization in qualifying opportunities, or would like to take advantage of a free ½ hour sales consultation.


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