I know that I want a burrito and I know who has the best burrito in my town, but for some reason, I still can’t resist using the clever iPhone app called Urbanspoon. My favorite feature of this app is its highly additive “slot machine.”  You shake your iPhone and a little slot machine randomly suggests restaurants to try. My favorite locale is the (gold standard)  one that defined the qualities that I truly enjoy in a burrito. anywhere else that I consider, well, they have a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, the “other’” restaurants offering burritos have become columns B, C, and so on in my evaluation.

Welcome to the world of column fodder – whether we are talking Mexican food or $1M software applications, if you aren’t first, then you have lot to live up to. In the world of Solution Selling®, we call this an Active Opportunity (they are already working with another vendor, but feel that they need to do their due diligence) – you may or may not realize it, but this is very likely the majority of the deals in your pipeline. You, my friend, are one of the other Mexican restaurants.

When you are responding to a pre-established list of requirements which have been defined by your competition, you are left with very low win odds. Essentially, the company that worked with your prospect to define their requirements has developed a bond of joint discovery. They showed your prospect their perfect burrito. Although, if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and use the principles of Solution Selling®, you can increase your odds of winning the business.

When qualifying opportunities , if you are late to the party, you need to go beyond your “normal” qualification criteria. These traditional elements are typically constrained to things like budget (is the project funded), authority (is there a decision maker in place), need/fit (does you offering match their list of requirements), and time frame (have they identified one, and is it within a reasonable period).  There is nothing wrong with these components, which are commonly referred to as BANT.  But, if this is the only criteria that you use, then you are selling to prospects that have already made up their mind of who to buy from.

At this point, if you discover that the opportunity is in fact active, you may want to understand some additional criteria before throwing some time and resources to try to win the deal by reengineering the prospect’s vision of the perfect burrito. In Solution Selling®, we call this an Opportunity Assessment; at the very least you will want to know the following:

Successful Sales formula™ – PxPxVxVxC

In other words-

  • Pain – “is the customer likely to act?”
  • Power – “are we aligned with the right people to win?”
  • Vision – “does the customer prefer our offering?”
  • Value – “does our offering provide mutual value?”
  • Control – “can we control the buying process?”

You can further drill into each of these components in more detail as well, to fully vet out things such as, if they identified their pain, if we talking with the people in power, etc.

Once you have vetted out this sort of detail, then you can determine your strategy for either pursuing the opportunity with the goal of convincing the prospect of your better/different take on burritos, or walking away.

In today’s sales cultures (where most companies sales funnels are simply not large enough), many managers frown on sales reps qualifying out of opportunities, but if you don’t have a shot, learn to celebrate walking away.

In conclusion, just because you did not define the requirements for your customer, doesn’t mean that you can’t still make them believe in the vision that you redefine with them. Although, if this is not possible, make it okay to walk away; someone else is out there. Find them.

Ken Cross
Ken Cross, Sales Enablement Practice Leader

Ken Cross is SPI’s Director of Sales Enablement, focusing on advancing sales technology and process automation. Ken is a frequent contributor to this blog and to industry publications and forums.

Add Your Comment:

SPI’s Course Catalog

Download the catalog for descriptions of the standard versions of SPI's capabilities.