Saturday, November 17, 2012

Opportunity Development - Part 2 of Your Selling System

What's the essential business process you have to own in order to grow your business?   A selling system.  A documented, explainable process that keeps your pipeline full of suspects, prospects, proposals and closed orders.   In my experience fewer than 25% of businesses have one. For the rest, each month's revenue is a surprise -- some ok, most below target.   

Here’s an overview of a selling system.   Last month, we explored Lead Generation, a critical failing of most selling systems.  This month, we're talking about Opportunity Development -- that discovery process where we determine whether a suspect (not yet a prospect) has a real need for what we do.  

Buying decisions are emotional, not logical (perhaps later logically justified).  There's not going to be a sale unless one of two human emotions is in play -- fear or greed.   

Fear is an opportunity.  Fear of liability, fear of failure, fear of loss of status, fear of bankruptcy.  These are strong drivers.  If a suspect (not yet a prospect) has a fear that our product or service addresses, he's a strong candidate to become a prospect.    

Greed is another opportunity.  The desire for more income, more status, more respect, more success, more personal indulgence.  Almost all consumer products are sold to this emotion.  About the only things sold to consumers' fear are insurance and safety-related products, like car seats and smoke detectors.  

A person driven by either fear or greed is in pain.  Pain-finding is a critical step in a selling system and a critical skill in a sales person -- find out where it hurts (what the suspect fears or covets) and you'll find an opportunity to sell something.   If you can't find pain and identify it as either fear or greed, move on.  Your selling system needs to quickly parse through suspects and retain only those who have some pain.   

Then, it's about fit.  Fit between the pain and our solution.  Does what we provide really soothe the suspect's pain?   Can we easily demonstrate that, and can the suspect clearly make the connection, more emotionally than logically?  If not, move on.  

Imagine yourself as a sales manager addressing his sales force, saying, "Folks, we sell hammers.  Your job is finding prospects who have problems that look like nails."  If your product or service isn't a glove-fit to the suspect's pain, move on and find one where that's the case.  

So, does your selling system have a good opportunity development process -- a well-defined method by which you determine whether there's some pain -- whether fear or greed -- and confirm that there's a glove-fit between your product or service and alleviating that pain?   If not, it's a critical missing link in your selling system.   

More next month on Qualifying -- the process of choosing the "best few" prospects on which to spend time.  That's Part 3 your selling system.   

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International
Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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