Growth Driver #9 – Focus on Opportunity Creation

Break your Sales Force’s inertia against opportunity creation with three steps.

If your sales force is like most we encounter it’s struggling to initiate new, original opportunities and is tied up working on at the end of a lead development process. There are several reasons why this is happening. First, in many sales forces more and more of the buying process occurs before the sales force is even engaged ( up to 70% by some estimates). This diminishes the sales person’s sense of relevance and control and promotes a reliance on campaigns that create warm qualified leads. Second, creating opportunity requires a process and the skill to act repeatedly in a disciplined way and the process, skills, and discipline don’t exist in most sales organizations. These two impediments create a ton of inertia, particularly against old school cold calling and prospecting.

Luckily, there are other techniques you can employ, without heavy investments in skill development, that will shift your sales force’s perspective toward opportunity creation, increase their value to customers and prospects, and enhance their relationships with their customers. The top three techniques we recommend include:

  1. Pursue Referrals from Clients. Satisfied clients are a chronically underutilized source of new opportunities. If you are delivering quality work and have been instrumental in enabling your client’s success, ask them for referrals to their suppliers and customers. Be clear about whom you’d like to be referred to, what you’d like to learn or offer them, help your client make the introduction by scripting a specific message, follow up quickly, and remember to say thank you and keep your client informed of your progress. You will be amazed at the incremental value regular requests for referrals creates.
  2. Go Deep within Your Clients. We are frequently surprised to find our clients have narrow (one department, one division, one product group) relationships with their clients. Their doing great mining one vein, but they have not spread out to find others. This is a mistake that can be easily rectified by simply working with senior leaders to identify new relationships you would like to make and offering to do some free diagnostic or developmental work for the new contacts. A focused day or two of effort alongside your client is significantly more efficient than pursuing an RFP or several warm leads. Go deep where you have influence and credibility, you won’t be disappointed.
  3. Form a Networking Group. By networking group, I don’t mean a linkedin group that exists primarily in the ether, or a huge amorphous group of people from your industry. I mean a diverse group of experts, be they sales people, managers, product developers, engineers, who all have an interest in solving similar types of problems or business issues, as opposed to industry specific or functionally specif problems. Being the network captain, or better yet sharing that captaincy with a close professional colleague, of a group that’s diverse from industry, functional, and role perspectives will enable you to not only broaden your perspective and improve your problem solving skills, but will also enable you to generate more new opportunities and be more effective at managing them.

Now get out there and create some opportunities using at least two of these techniques.

If you enjoyed this piece or are curious about the other 8 Growth Drivers for 2013, here is a list of links:

  1. Growth Driver #1 – Confirm Your Revenue Model
  2. Growth Driver #2 – Increase Your Value
  3. Growth Driver #3 – Sell the Way Customers Buy
  4. Growth Driver #4 – Pursue a Mix of Revenue Gains and Drains
  5. Growth Driver #5 – Identify Growth Themes
  6. Growth Driver #6 – Create a Road Map to Success
  7. Growth Driver #7 – Tighten Your Focus on Sales Management
  8. Growth Driver #8 – Assess Your Turnover Risk
  9. Growth Driver #9 – Focus on Opportunity Creation (This Post!)

-TGK



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