Sales Skill #3. Prioritizing Opportunities
According to a recent research study, it takes an average of 12 contacts to BEGIN to develop a major account. if you end up calling on marginal prospects that either can’t buy, won’t buy, or won’t buy enough. You lose; they lose. Time is precious, so you’d best spend it wisely. Here’s how to hone this skill:
STEP #1: Prepare to let some prospects founder. If you’re going to focus on the best opportunities, you won’t have time to spend on the "maybe"s and the "wish they would"s. Even if you’ve forecasted them in your pipeline, it’s time to stop fooling yourself.
STEP #2: Eliminate all prospects who don’t have money to buy. This seems obvious, but many times sales reps don’t bother to find out if the customer has the financial wherewithal to buy. Rule of thumb: Are they actively hiring? Then they’ve got money to spend.
STEP #3: Find out which prospects would benefit the most. With any product there is a natural buyer who is the most likely to benefit from it, and most likely to buy it. Increase the amount of time you spend on opportunities that fit the profile.
STEP #4: Learn the prospect’s buying process. Knowing how decisions are made, how agreements are reach, and how purchases work through the system allows you to spend your time helping the customer through the inevitable bottlenecks.
STEP #5: Leverage trigger events. Spend more time on accounts that experience circumstances that make it more likely that they’ll buy. For example, if you sell management consulting, a trigger event might be a customer announcement of a management change.