Performing opportunity reviews and planning next steps with the essential sales process

Improving win rate and accelerating deals requires that we have an accurate understanding of where we are with any given opportunity, so we can effectively plan next steps to advance the deal towards closure. Think of this as your “Sat Nav” for sales opportunities.

Assessment of the current state of an opportunity needs to focus on several different aspects, e.g. understanding of the customer’s pain, our relationship with the customer, state of the contract negotiations. In the Essential Sales Process, these aspects are: Opportunity, Customer, Requirements, Solution, Team, Strategy and Contract. (See earlier blog post for description of these aspects). Assessment is based on understanding the maturity level (or state) of each aspect; in turn this is determined by tracking the achievement of the outcomes for each state.

The Essential Sales Process cards, together with a workflow board like the one below provides a simple way to visually represent the opportunity status.

The cards in the “Done” column represent the maturity levels (states) that have been achieved, i.e. we have been able to tick off all of the checks on each card. The cards in the “Doing” column represent the states where we have achieved none or some of the checks and is where we are currently focusing. The cards in the “To Do” column represent future states which we are yet to look at. Bear in mind that there is no requirement to achieve the outcomes in any given sequence, and also that some outcomes that were previously checked may become un-checked if the situation changes.

The board then gives us an overall picture of the current state of the opportunity, in terms of all of its aspects. If this looks too daunting, you can build it up one aspect at a time. It’s up to you how many of the aspects you include, but you will get a more thorough and complete picture, the more aspects you consider.

Once we have a good understanding of current state, we can start to identify the gaps, which are simply the outcomes (checks) on the cards not yet achieved. For this, focus on the “Doing” column, look at the un-checked outcomes on all the cards, and, if you’re nearly done with a card, you might want to look at the next one and start thinking about the upcoming outcomes that you need to achieve. So in this instance it’s OK to have a couple of cards from the same aspect in the “Doing” column. Once you have a list of all the gaps, prioritise these to create a set of next steps which will help you plan your next call or meeting and feed into your strategy.

This approach can be used by an individual sales person, but it is most effective when used as a collaboration and communication tool by the sales team. It usually generates a lot of really healthy discussion about the opportunity, and gets all the team players on the same page with moving the opportunity forwards.

Try it for yourself: sign-up for a free trial of the Essential Sales Process app here.