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Managing Sales Opportunities: 3 Key Questions to Answer When Qualifying an Opportunity

By Andrea McOwen

Is your sales win rate dropping? Are you losing money on sales? Are your clients slow to make a decision? In this video, Andrea McOwen, President of Strategic Enhancement Group, discusses three questions that should be answered to ensure salespeople are pursuing the right opportunities.

Andrea McOwen: 00:01 Hi, I'm Andrea McOwen, President of Strategic Enhancement Group. How do we ensure our salespeople are going after the right opportunities? That's a question we often get asked by our clients. Everyone is so busy these days, and salespeople don't have time to chase every opportunity with the same effort and energy. Additionally, according to research by CSO Insights over the past five years, win rates have fallen from 50% to 47%, no-decision rates have gone up from 20% to 25%. So how do we know which are the right opportunities? Today, we're going to focus on three questions you want to make sure your salespeople have answers to. Will the customer buy something? Does the opportunity have value for me and my company? And will the customer buy from me?

Andrea McOwen: 01:03 Lets look at that first question. Will the customer buy something? Is there a compelling event, a strategic reason for the client to buy something? Are they showing a sense of urgency? If the answer to one or both of these questions is no, then it's likely they won't move forward, and the salesperson will spend a lot of time and energy on an opportunity that turns out to be a non-decision. Does the opportunity have value for me and my company? Salespeople and their managers always have to ask – Is this business worth it?

Andrea McOwen: 01:36 Does the opportunity warrant the amount of resources your company will need to spend to win it? Not all business is good business. This makes me think of an opportunity one of our clients had. The size of the opportunity was good – not huge, but initially my client thought it seemed worth it. But when they got well into their client's buying process, they realized it had already taken a lot of their resources. Sales, sales management, upper management, the head of research, plus many others.

Andrea McOwen: 02:08 The client did not appear to be even close to a decision. The buying process kept dragging out. Their client would be in a big rush for some information or a meeting. The sales team would scramble to meet those requests, and then months would go by before the client asked for more information. The buying process was taking so long it became obvious there was no sense of urgency. Plus, the amount of time and resources they had put into this so far concerned them. If the client demanded so many meetings and presentations during the buy-in process, what would it be like to work with them after the sale? Was the size of this sale really worth it? Ultimately, my client decided not to pursue the opportunity and removed themselves from the process. It would've been nice if they had figured this out much earlier in the sales process. I believe if they had asked, "Is this business worth it?" earlier and answered it honestly, they would never have put that kind of time and energy into it.

Andrea McOwen: 03:07 The final question – Will the customer buy from me? Here, you want to look at how well your company's offering fits the client's needs. You also want to answer honestly, "Is our offering better than our competition's?" Salespeople should do their research and be able to show some evidence to prove that their conclusion is correct.

Andrea McOwen: 03:27 In summary, after asking the following questions and coming up with the evidence to support your answers, you and your salespeople will be in the best position to decide whether this is good business to pursue and make that go/no-go decision. Those three questions are – Will the customer buy something? Does the opportunity have value for me and my company? And will the customer buy from me? If asked and answered honestly with evidence to back it up, your team will be spending their time more wisely and going after opportunities that make the most sense and can deliver a win. To learn more about managing opportunities, please visit StrategicEnhancementGroup.com.

Published: June 19, 2024

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Andrea McOwen

President

Andrea McOwen has over 30 years of business experience and has been with Strategic Enhancement Group for 28 years. As the President of Strategic Enhancement Group she is leading the day to day and future direction of the company. Andrea manages the business relationships with Strategic Enhancement Group’s international business partners and coordinates the appropriate resources needed around the world to meet our global clients’ needs. Andrea has managed large global implementations for many diverse global clients and is experienced managing projects in 36 countries in every region of the world. Andrea has a strong foundation in sales, service and management. Andrea’s ability to quickly demonstrate an understanding of organizational issues, needs and priorities has gained her the confidence and trust of customers and employees alike. Andrea graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.S. degree in fashion merchandising/interior design with a minor in business administration. Prior to joining SEG she worked with a merchandise wholesaler in sales and marketing and was a General Manager in retail.

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