How To Build An Account-based Sales Opportunity Plan


Account-Based Sales Opportunity Plans For The Win!

Nobody wins by accident!

Well, that’s not completely true.  There are instances when the stars align and a series of fortunate events have positioned you for the dumbest, most effortless win.  Exciting to see when it happens!  But that sort of thing isn’t predictable or repeatable, and it certainly isn’t scalable.

Nobody wins by accident

Growing a business and continuously improving its profitability means that processes should be scalable, successful sales strategies should be repeatable throughout your organization, and having access to predictable data gives you an advantage in sales forecasting, predictive analytics, and getting ahead of the competition.  

That’s why we can’t progress opportunities with luck.  Want to win over opportunities and shorten the sales cycle?  You need to plan accordingly.  

This brings me to my next point…

Nobody runs a business without a plan, especially when you’re in the world of complex sales and opportunity-based selling!  And even if you do end up winging it at some point (especially during a time crunch), the plan would have given you enough data to make informed decisions on the fly.

Why Do We Need It?

Sales opportunities are prevalent in target account selling (TAS) or account-based sales (ABS).  By definition, sales opportunities are qualified prospects with higher probabilities of becoming your customers.  That is exactly what ABS methodology is about– a sales approach that targets accounts that 100% fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).  This means that the span between converting the prospect to an opportunity is shorter.  

However, the opportunity stage is where deals are most likely to stall, where the decision-making process takes longer, and where buyer activities become invisible to us. What’s scary is that you’re not the only vendor waiting with bated breath for answers.  

You’ll want to avoid situations where you might end up losing the deal because:

  • You lack relationships with executive-level decision-makers
  • They lack faith in your level of commitment or are unconvinced of your credentials
  • Unclear and ineffective strategies to address risk and cost factors
  • Inability to articulate a compelling value proposition

There are other reasons why account-based planning is essential.  They can:

  • Effectively implement winning strategies
  • Provide a sense of direction
  • Help you focus on realistic objectives
  • Measure feasibility
  • Ensure alignment between teams and departments
  • Calculate probabilities of success
  • Manage resources
  • Facilitate control
  • Reduce uncertainty and risk
  • Validate areas where you’re better than the competition

Sales Opportunities Planning is also an excellent way to help you decide if the sale is worth winning.  For example, the buying center said something during negotiations that made you re-evaluate the costs VS benefits of the sale. These kinds of considerations can be documented in the plan and help you identify what needs to be adjusted to make the win worth it.

Short-Term Account Planning Sales With Opportunity Canvas

Sales war rooms (especially near-term ones) need a battle map that can give you an overview of the opportunity stage in the sales cycle– and the Sales Opportunity Canvas is exactly that.  

There is enough information there to keep you focused or updated on ongoing campaigns, but it is not so thorough that you get lost in the details.  Sales opportunity canvases allow you to review plans, make small changes, and help break down lengthy complex tasks into manageable ones.

Sales opportunity canvas

Constructing Your Value Proposition

Your customer does not want to know what your product does.  Most of the time, they are not aware that they have a need that only your solution can satisfy.  Your value proposition is a way of opening their eyes to that.  

There is also another element that makes Value Propositions incredibly effective.  The numbers!  When you can measure the offer and express it in numbers, then everyone will say, “This guy knows what he’s talking about!” 

In B2B, there are four major motivations why a buyer would buy:

  1. Increase revenue
  2. Reduce costs
  3. Increase efficiency
  4. Reduce risk
Constructing Your Value Proposition

There are others that are critical long-term but that customers have put off solving because it isn’t an immediate concern:

  1. Regulatory and compliance 
  2. Automation and digitization
  3. Attracting and retaining talent
  4. Accelerating innovation
  5. Voice of the customer
  6. Reducing volatility

There are three well-known ways to write a value proposition: Value Proposition Canvas, Harvard Business School’s 3 Essential Questions, and the Steve Blank Formula.

Constructing Your Value Proposition chart

There are cases when buyers aren’t aware that they need a solution in the first place.  They wouldn’t have any reason to buy from you unless they can answer the questions about your value proposition.

  • Why act? They’re able to articulate why your solution is important.
  • Why now? They’re able to articulate why your solution is urgent.
  • Why us? They’re able to articulate why your solution is the best choice.
  • Why trust? They’re able to articulate why they should believe in your offer, your company, and you.

Identifying The Buyer & Their Buyer Type

There are many buyer roles but we’ll be focusing on four of the major ones that are likely to buy and advocate.

  • The Champion
    A referral or someone who recommended your product/services. Their influence depends on their seniority. They are your best allies.
  • The Power User
    The person using your product/service. Also known as the end user. They may or may not be C-level but their reviews could make or break you.
  • The Decider
    This is someone who is focused on the ROI and the cost of the solution.  Also known as the budget holder that will pay for the whole thing and gives the final approval for your deal.
  • The Techie
    Is literally the tech guy. They will make sure your product/service works with the infrastructure or if it can be customized to do so. You must conform to them instead of the other way around.

These buyer roles are often specifically found in program managers, marketing communications, CEOs, contracting, and information technology.  You can frame your propositions in terms of their problem, made more effective by identifying their buyer roles, which can go like this, “For [buyer role], we can solve [pain point].”

Buyers give themselves away by:

  • Understanding how your solution affects their organization
  • Pointing out the people in their organization who will need to be involved in the buying decision
  • Sharing the timeline and budget allocated to solve their business problem

Related: 12 Sales Strategies to Influence Key B2B Buyer Roles

Objections, Competition, and The Status Quo

Too many salespeople are putting value in the objections that they hear.  Instead, you want to dig into why your buyers are making the objections in the first place.

  1. Why will your buyer do nothing?
  2. What is the biggest objection you’ll face?
  3. Who are your competitors?
  4. How will you address all of this?

Do you know the tried and true method of getting someone to decide on something by making them think it was their idea?  Your targets will be less resistant if you can lead them to state the problem and not overwhelm them with a scripted monologue to overcome their objections.  They’ve heard it all before, and they are more likely to tune you out.    

Asking them to identify their pain points out loud makes it easier to address them in a conversation.

For example, we asked a client what concerns he had about a product and he said that they previously bought a cheaper one that didn’t meet their expectations.  And we asked him again, ”Did the quality of the product suffer because of the price?”  We got his attention and incited his curiosity!  “What makes your product so much better then?”  He inevitably asked.

Of course, we did our homework– prepared the data and the numbers, so we can satisfy his need to know more.

Sales Insights Lab states, “Top performers don’t talk less, but they get prospects to talk more!”

Sales calls stats

There is a slight, almost negligible, difference in how much a top-performing rep would talk compared to the others.  What’s really happening here is that a top performer’s conversations are much more engaging, thus making the buyer invested in keeping the communication going and making them talk more than you do!

Profile your competition, the client’s biggest objection, and/or the status quo in the Sales Opportunity Canvas to be prepared for those roadblocks when it comes up.

Stages Of The Sale

Where are you at in the opportunity stage of the sale?

Stage 1: Needs Analysis
What are the early warning signals in your account-based sales process?
What happens here?This is where your value propositions are offered and where the buyer’s initial questions and objections happen.
Strategies to use– Customer discovery: Confirm, ask, explore
– Do not monologue to the prospect. Prospect must state the problem.
– SPIN Selling
Signals– Actively seeking a solution? You VS Competition
– How long has this been a problem?
– Who might be a detractor?
Stage 2: Evaluation of Options
How can you maintain control of the sale?
What happens here?Where deals progress or die. Your value proposition will be tested and weighed on Revenue-Cost-Efficiecy-Risk factors.
Strategies to use– “Business” Demo (presentations)
– Keep moving forward and maintain the inertia of the sale
– Maintain control
– Differentiate importance vs urgency
Signals– What is the Revenue-Cost-Efficiecy-Risk of the solution?
Stage 3: Resolution of Concerns
Where, how, and why are your sales conversations stalling?
What happens here?The buyer starts asking feasibility questions or starts having second thoughts. Where deals stall.
Strategies to use– “Technical” Demo (product trials or pilot run)
– What makes you stand out from the competition
– Present your work plan
– Build their trust
SignalsThey will ask:
– What can this solution do for me?
– How can I put it to work for my business?
– Why is your solution better?
Stage 4: Implementation
What next?
What happens here?Deals closed. Implementation and support.
Strategies to use– Present your work plan
– Provide sales strategy implementation roadmaps or post-sales milestones
– Present the following: Pricing, Contracts, Information Security, Support
Signals“What if we want to get started?”

Sales Cadence

I previously mentioned that the best sales strategies are repeatable.  Cadences are a standard and often a repeatable process in sales.  It is a timeline of sales outreach and messaging that reps follow to engage their targets.

Sales cadence example

Key Metrics & Milestones

Give your customers a view of the future.  But don’t just send them a proposal!  It is a big show of commitment on both ends to work out an implementation plan that you and your customer have agreed upon.  The plan can include key metrics as well as milestones. 

You can create Key Metrics and Milestones for:

  • Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  • Intros to additional buyers (who is the Champion buyer, the user, etc?)
  • Onsite visit to your office
  • Technology audits to estimate configuration costs
  • Implementation planning (or work plan)

Work Agreement / Economics

Lastly, make sure that you have completed or included the following in your contract or work agreement:

  • How many seat licenses?
  • Billing cycles
  • Budget cycles
  • Signatory
  • Renewal clauses
  • Right to cure?

Long-Term Planning Sales Opportunity Plans

Now that we’re done covering the sales opportunity canvas, let’s delve deeper…

Contributing To A Winning Sales Opportunity Plan

We’ll go over creating a much more detailed account-based opportunity plan to present to the buying committee. Creating detailed plans means picking up data from other existing plans:

Market SegmentationRevenue PlanningDemand GenerationMarketing Org DesignContent ProductionMarketing Operations
Account SegmentationBudget PlanningLead ManagementSales Org DesignCampaign ExecutionSales Operations
Buyer SegmentationProduct/ Solution PlanningProspectingChannel OptimizationLead Management ExecutionSales Support
Campaign PlanningSales ProcessTalent ProgramSales EnablementSystems
Data PlanningTerritory DesignField Adoption
Quota SettingForecast/ Pipeline Management
Compensation PlanningReporting

When you have a quarter to a year to create a complete and detailed plan for your target accounts, it makes sense to consult departments involved in the plans above. You will also need to assume or delegate sales leaders for the following role as it would mean becoming the biggest contributor and administrator to the plan:

Account sales leaders as planners in charge of

  1. Sales forecasting
  2. Tracking metrics
  3. Developing objectives
  4. Developing the account-based sales organization
  5. Formulating policies and procedures
  6. Preparing the budget

Account sales leaders as administrators in charge of

  1. Supervision
  2. Delegation
  3. Coordination
  4. Motivation
  5. Strategic approach
  6. Routing, scheduling, teaming (or subcontracting), and sales enablement

Determining Account-Based Opportunity Viabilities

To identify whether the prospect has turned into a worthy opportunity, four compelling questions need to be answered.  This is the only way to consistently assess the deals that you’re pursuing.  Should this apply to account-based sales where your targets are already highly qualified based on the criteria from your ICP? Absolutely!

Target accounts are not exempt from changes in their business profile or the competitive landscape.  More than ever, you return to asking these four compelling questions when there are any major changes in your buyer, and if there is a need to introduce new solutions.

Is there an opportunity?

This is an area to help you develop a deeper understanding of the account’s business,  the buyers’  business goals, and the organization’s financial situation.

Business Initiatives– What are the customer’s business goals as they relate to this project?
– What are the main challenges and objectives for this project from the customer’s perspective?
– Who initiated this project, and who will be working on it?
– How does this project align with the customer’s overall business initiatives?
Business/ Market Profile– What products and services do the customer offer?
– What are their primary markets?
– Who are the customer’s key clients and competitors?
– What internal and external factors are driving the customer’s business?
Financial Condition– What are the trends in the customer’s revenue and profit?
– How do their financials compare to those of similar companies?
– What is the financial outlook for the customer?
– What performance metrics are important to the customer?
Financial Resources– What is the budget for this project?
– How does the customer usually allocate their budget?
– How does this project compare in priority to other projects?
– What other potential uses of capital does the customer have?
Compelling Reason to Act– Why is it important for the customer to take action now?
– What is the deadline for the customer to make a decision?
– If the project is completed on time, what benefits can the customer expect?
– What measurable impact do you expect this project to have on the customer’s business?

Can we compete?

You need to determine if your solution would offer your customers any specific business value and how it would differentiate you from the other competitors.  Factors such as the decision-making process, solution fit, business relationships, and outsourcing will impact how successfully you can compete for the business.

Formal Decision-Making Process– What factors does the customer consider when making a decision?
– What is the process they follow when evaluating and choosing a solution?
– Which criteria are most important to them and why?
– Who developed the decision criteria?
Solution Fit For Business Initiatives– How compatible is the technology solution with the customer’s current IT systems?
– Have we created a comprehensive solution that includes an integrated concept?
– Does the IT solution effectively solve the customer’s problem? What does the customer think?
– Will external resources be needed to meet their requirements?
Solution Fit For IT Preferences– How much time and resources will the sales team need to invest in this opportunity?
– What additional internal and external resources and capabilities will be necessary to win it?
– What is the estimated cost of sales?
– What opportunity cost will be incurred?
Resource/ Capability Requirements– How much time and resources will the sales team need to invest in this opportunity?
– What additional internal and external resources and capabilities will be necessary to win it?
– What is the estimated cost of sales?
– What opportunity cost will be incurred?
Unique Business Value– What specific, measurable outcomes will the solution deliver to the customer?
– How do they define and measure value?
– How have we communicated the value of the solution in terms that are meaningful to them?
– How does the value we offer differentiate us from competitors?
Current Customer Relationship– What is the current status of our relationship with the customer?
– What about the relationships of our competitors with the customer?
– Which relationships provide a competitive advantage for this opportunity?
– How do our relationships compare to the customer’s ideal relationship?

Can we win?

It’s good to have a winning mindset.  But it’s also realistic to look at your sales campaign and ask yourself if your expectations are reasonable.  Mapping your target account’s organizational structure would help you determine who would champion your solution, which political alignment would affect purchase decisions, and what facts would support your evaluation of business relationships and cultural compatibility.

Access To Authority– Who within the customer’s organization is supportive of our company and wants us to win the business?
– What actions have they taken to show their support?
– Are they willing and able to advocate on our behalf and do they have the necessary influence or authority to do so?
– Have we created a sponsorship letter and discussed it with this person?
Buying Vision– Does the customer have a specific vision or goal in mind for this opportunity?
– Have we thoroughly understood their perspective?
– Have we played a role in shaping this vision?
– Are we aligned with it?
Informal Decision-Making Process– How will the final decision be made and what subjective or intangible factors could potentially impact it?
– Are there any unspoken issues or concerns that we should be aware of?
– Who holds private opinions that may be influential in the decision?
– How much weight do they carry?
Political Alignment– Who are the most influential people involved in the decision-making process?
– Do they support our company’s bid?
– Do they have the ability to influence the decision criteria or create a sense of urgency?
– Have they demonstrated this in the past?
Cultural Compatibility– What is the customer’s company culture?
– How does it compare to our own?
– What is their general attitude towards vendors and suppliers?
– Are we able to adapt to it if necessary?
Evaluation Plan– Have we created a plan for evaluating this opportunity?
– Have we discussed it with our power sponsor?
– Do we have their agreement on the overall plan?
– Have we included any checkpoints for mutual review?

Is it worth winning?

Sometimes you would need to come back to this question when major changes happen to your target account’s business.  Such changes would impact the ROI, and their customer lifetime value, and also help you determine the degree of risks should you continue to pursue the deal.

Short-Term Revenue– How much is the order amount?
– Is it above or below the specified threshold?
– When will the deal close?
– Is it within the designated timeframe?
Future Revenue– Is there potential for further business with this company in the next year or three years?
– Does this exceed our expectations for revenue or profit?
– How is this project or application related to future revenue or profit for our company? Have we considered all the potential business that could be gained from this customer?
– How can we turn customer promises into actual commitments?
Profitability– What is the expected profit from this sales opportunity? 
– Does it meet or exceed our profit threshold? 
– How will discounts affect profitability? 
– How can we improve opportunity profitability?
Degree of Risk– What are the potential ways that our solution could fail?
– What are the key elements that are necessary for us to deliver value to the customer?
– How could the customer cause our solution to fail?
– What would be the impact on our business if the solution were to fail?
Strategic Value– What is the value of this opportunity beyond just the revenue it generates?
– How does it fit into our overall business plan?
– How can we use this opportunity to generate revenue from other companies or markets?
– How will this opportunity help us improve our product or service?

Using The Right Account-Based Sales Strategies

After putting together enough data on the opportunity viability of your target account, you’d be able to choose the best sales strategy for a decisive close.  

5 Basic Sales Approaches

This ties in wonderfully with the previous topic as the compelling opportunity questions can be met with the right sales approach out of the five basics.  They should be considered recommendations and not exact solutions.

If your product or service is not 100% unbeatable in the market, be flexible enough to choose the one that will give you the best advantage.

5 Basic Sales Approaches

Let’s quickly define the 5 basic sales approaches and how they are typically used in the sales process.

  • Frontal: A direct approach based on the superiority of your solution, price, or reputation.  Often used but also the easiest to defeat.
  • Flanking: A strategy that shifts the focus from the original buying criteria to a different issue that favors your solution. Have multiple unique value propositions for this to work.
  • Fragment: Divides an opportunity into smaller segments that you can feasibly and effectively address. Used mainly to get a foothold on target accounts or bypass stronger competitors.
  • Defend: This only applies if you’re already a vendor for the account.  Develop a close customer relationship from the moment the deal is closed so that your customer will choose you every time a competitor comes sniffing.
  • Develop: A long-term strategy of building the credibility of your company and yourself over time before the prospect realizes they need your solution.

Marketing + Sales Strategies

It is best practice to make sure that your Sales and Marketing have an alignment whenever you sell to multi-million Enterprises or for all account-based projects.  Some of the best-personalized sales strategies are developed from marketing.

Marketing + Sales Strategies

Here’s a rundown of all the marketing-to-sales strategies:

  • Marketing Strategy: achieves business goals by understanding customer needs and promoting the brand and/or product awareness through different platforms and channels.
  • Target Market Strategy: focuses on brand awareness and increasing sales to a specific market or buyer segment.
  • Marketing Mix Strategy: combines or mixes several areas of marketing focus for product, price, promotion, place, people, packaging, and process.
  • Product/Service Strategy: serves as a roadmap to develop a product, service, or feature to serve certain personas.
  • Promotion/IMC Strategy: unifies different functions of marketing to send the same brand or company messaging and user experience across different channels.
  • Distribution Strategy: creates sales or marketing approach that targets an ideal customer based on their buying behaviors and encourages repeat business.
  • Price Strategy: a method that establishes the best price for a product/service depending on the account segment, market conditions, competitor actions, ability to pay, input costs, and trade margins.
  • Sales Promotion Strategy: a short-term strategy that motivates buyers to buy the product through incentives, discounts, or offers.
  • Advertising Strategy: an outreach effort distributed across different platforms to increase brand awareness, compel customers to buy a product/service, and attract new buyers.
  • Public Relations Strategy: also known as publicity strategy that creates a campaign for the general public to communicate business goals and drive sales.
  • Personal Selling Strategy: creates personalized campaigns across multiple channels that target a specific segment or ideal customer to help resolve their pain points with their product or solution.
  • Direct Marketing Strategy: marketing that directly communicates with individual customers.

That’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?  And it becomes a question of which strategies would be most effective in different cases especially when it comes to B2B lead generation.  By outsourcing these tasks to a specialized lead management solutions company, a business can save on labor and training costs and instead focus on core competencies and business growth. In addition, experienced lead generation and management companies will likely have a more effective and efficient process in place, leading to higher conversion rates and a better return on investment.

Relationship Strategy

As mentioned previously, mapping organizational relationships is a good way to plan for or around key players in the buying committee.  

Identifying your advocates and understanding their motivations can help speed sales cycles.  But we also cannot ignore blockers and hidden detractors.  Recognizing who they are will help you shift your focus elsewhere.

Most CRMs have relationship mapping applications, and the data visualization aspect of it is invaluable as they allow you a visual overview of how each player interconnects with other individuals and what their role is in the buying process.  

But sometimes that is hard to translate into a document.  So, here’s a very simple method to create your relationship strategy with examples.

Key PlayerBusiness AgendaPersonal AgendaRelationship Strategy
Millie TateChoosing a product with the lowest rates for services offered.– Low cost of our rate
– Promised good service
Nigel Everly– Finish the deal with the company.
– Improve company performance by the end of the year.
Keep reputation at a high level as it is attached to the deal.Motivate
Howard Boyce– Long-term focus on growth and performance.
– Environmental friendly image.
Display a more friendly public image for the company.Leverage
All identities above are fictional

Data Analysis For Sales Opportunity Planning

There are two types of data that we need to track for the sales opportunity plan.  One is customer-focused data and the other is your company’s strategic data.  

Customer-Focused Data

When it comes to situational analysis, SWOT and PESTLE are the standards for evaluating your buyers, and help you weigh the pros and cons of a major decision.  

SWOT analysis allows you to examine four areas of a business environment Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

PESTLE analysis will help you assess external factors such as Political, Economic, Social, Technology, Legal, and Environment that would affect a business.

Asking The Right Questions To Obtain Customer Data

Consider these questions as means to put you in the right direction to obtaining relevant data from your target.  Not exactly by asking the buyers directly but also as an intuitive search parameter in getting the correct information on your potential customers based on your research.

Opening a Conversation
Questions to start a conversation with someone in the organization
In your job, what’s the most important to you? What do you enjoy the most about your work? What are you particularly skilled at doing?
What personal goals or mission do you hope to achieve through your work?
What challenges are you currently facing in your job? What is frustrating you the most? What worries you the most?
What challenges is your organization currently facing?
What are your methods for addressing these challenges? Is there anything else that would be helpful?
If you could change anything about your job, what would it be?
What changes have been made to your job responsibilities recently? How do you see your work evolving in the next year?
What could you change if you are able to? What else?
What obstacles or delays do you encounter in your work? What holds you back or frustrates you? What do you constantly have to search for?
How do you envision your organization evolving over the next 12-18 months?
Looking back one year from now, what are you hoping to have focused on today?
What motivated you to schedule this meeting?
Can you tell me about a recent success that you or your team achieved? How could that success be repeated more often?
Who do you communicate with most frequently at work and for what purpose?
Which other organizations do you strive to emulate and why? Who are some professionals in your field that you always pay attention to?
When you catch up with old friends, what do you hope to accomplish and what do you hope your business will achieve?
Questions to identify valuable additional contacts
Who else do you recommend I speak with?
Who else is dealing with this issue? Can you introduce me to them?
When you need to purchase something large, complex, and costly for work, how is the process typically handled? Who else needs to be involved? How long does it typically take?
If the item you need is not within your job responsibilities, how do you persuade the organization to approve it?
What role in your department is primarily responsible for evaluating large items?
Opportunity Questions For Strategic Advantage

Understanding the current business landscape, issues, facts, or key characteristics.

Short-Term AdvantagesClient Projects/IssuesMeasurable MetricsGoals & ObjectivesPolitical Agendas
What other solutions are you considering?What difficulties is your organization currently facing?What differences would you expect to see in 1-2 years if you pursue this project?What goals would you most like to achieve this year, and how would our solution help you do so?Who would you like to work with more closely if you had more time, and why?
What’s working for you currently?What tasks and projects are currently taking up most of your time and attention?What key metrics are you interested in tracking?If you had additional resources, what significant objective would you like to accomplish?Who do you think should be included on the evaluation team, and what are your thoughts on the team’s composition?
What aspects of our solution do you find most appealing?What changes do you anticipate in your industry or company in the near future?What is the biggest impact that you are anticipating as a result of this project?What do you think would be most impactful in bringing your department or organization to the next level?Who do you think might have a different opinion on this matter than you do?
Obtaining A Target / Objective

WHY the decision is made?

  • NEED
    • Problem
      I recently spoke with another customer who is facing a similar problem to you, involving _. How are you dealing with this issue?
    • Project
      What steps have you taken or planned to take to address this challenge? Is there anything else that you think would be helpful?
    • Date
      In the next 6, 12, or 18 months, what progress do you hope to have made in regard to this problem?
    • Compelling Mechanism
      What is driving the need for this project at present? What risks are involved if you don’t move forward? Are there any regulations that are impacting this issue?
    • Financial Position
      How is the financial situation of your organization influencing this project and the associated decisions?
    • Funding Status
      How will the budget for this be determined? Can you tell me more about the budget you have allocated for this initiative?
    • Quantitative
      What metrics are you particularly concerned about in this area? How will you measure the success or failure of the solution you choose?
    • Qualitative
      What intangible benefits do you hope to gain from this project? What would be most valuable to your customers or employees?

HOW this decision is made?

    • Technical
      How will you determine if the technology meets your requirements? What specific capabilities do you expect it to have?
    • Business
      How will the purchase be justified financially? What analysis will you use to make the decision, and which are most important?
    • Ours
      What assistance do you need from us? How can we best support you?
    • The Customers
      What steps need to be taken to move this initiative forward? What internal resources will be involved in this process?
    • Events
      Can you give me an overview of how you envision this project unfolding? How will the request for a proposal be written? What committee meetings will be necessary?
    • Timeline
      What is the timeline for this project, and what potential setbacks could arise?
    • Implementation
      During implementation, what will be the most critical factors to consider? Have there been issues with implementing projects in the past, and if so, what were they?
    • Risks
      What do you see as the risks of implementing a solution like the one we’ve discussed, and what are the risks of not implementing it?

WHO makes the decisions?

    • Decision Makers
      Who needs to approve the solution in order for it to move forward? Who else is involved in this process?
    • Approvers
      Who is providing recommendations to the decision-makers?
    • Inside Support
      Who originally proposed this idea? Who is driving change within the organization?
    • Criteria & Process
      How will the individuals supporting this effort assess the options?
    • Access
      What information or discussions do key stakeholders need in order to make their decisions?
    • Credibility
      What would be most impressive to your leaders? What does your upper management expect to see in order to make this decision?
    • Power
      Where might unexpected influences come from? Who will be influential in this process?
    • Philosophy
      How will the team evaluate the different options? What’s the organization’s political culture like?

I Could Go On!

According to statistics done by Rain Group:

35% didn’t agree that their sales organization focuses on driving maximum value for the customer

52% didn’t agree that their sales process was customer-focused

Organizations like to say that they have a customer-centric approach but then they have planning tools that are seller-focused on their tasks, their sales objectives, and their positioning.  What the sales opportunity plan does is improve the odds of winning the deal by aligning around and creating value for the customer.

Sales Opportunity Plans quote

What we’ve covered in part 1 is a step in getting the right information from your customers to make a customer-centric plan. Part 2 is more strategic and we’ll go over the following:

  • Internal strategic data for opportunity planning
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Pipeline Milestones and Opportunity Review Checklist
  • Competitive intelligence analysis 
  • Opportunity management
  • Sales forecasting to set opportunity goals
  • Downloadable opportunity plan template

See you at the next one!

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