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Improving Your Win Rates by Qualifying Opportunities

June 19, 2012
Are your win rates low? Do you spend a lot of time pursuing opportunities and they just don't happen? Are you going after big deals just because they are big, even though your odds of winning are low? Qualifying an opportunity to determine if you should put in the time and effort to pursue it is a critical success factor for improving your win rates. The more precise you are in qualifying an opportunity on the "front end," the more likely you'll be to win it on the "back end." Ask yourself three questions when a new opportunity comes up.

The first question you have to ask is whether or not there actually is an opportunity? Many companies, in order to get information, send out requests for quote with no intention of ever procuring a product or service. Responding to these requests seems like prudent business sense, but without the appropriate due diligence, it is not. Understanding whether there is a budget for the product or service, how this fits into the overall priority scheme of the company, and determining if there is a compelling event are critical first steps in the qualification process.

A compelling event is defined in two ways. There is either a benefit associated with buying your product or service, or there is a consequence of not buying it. Once you know that a compelling event exists, you then have to ask yourself a second question. Do we have a competitive product or service that addresses the compelling event? And if you have a product or service that does, what unique features or capabilities does it have to differentiate you from your competition?

After successfully answering the first two questions, of whether there is a compelling event and you have a competitive product or service, the third question is "Can we win?" Winning an opportunity requires that your product and service not only addresses all the formal decision criteria, but also that you have relationships with the key people who will make the decision.

Building relationships with the people that will either influence decision-making, or make the decision on which company to select, is critical. Sometimes this could be just one person, but more often it is a group of people, some of which have a lot more power than others. Determining who has the power and influencing their preference with your unique value proposition will put you in a much better position to win.

Take a moment to ask and answer these three questions when qualifying an opportunity, and you'll most likely improve your win rates as a result.

Dick Jones is the Founder & President of Simply Sales in Alpharetta, Ga. As a 4th generation sales professional, he has over 30 years of experience advising, coaching, consulting and working with small business owners. Office: 770-663-4681, web: www.simplysalesllc.com
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