Devising new methods to improve sales effectiveness invariably focuses on sale tactics. Tactics describe what the salesperson does in a one on one conversation with the customer. Tactical selling has taken over the sales training world for the past twenty-five years. Businesses are so eager to push their new recruits and even seasoned veterans through the latest programs that are oriented around tactics. But in this rush, a vital fundamental gets missed, recognizing and controlling the dynamics of the sales cycle. Most popular sales methods of today assume that the salesperson knows why they are in front of the customer in the first place, but unfortunately that may not be the case. At any one time, the average salesperson handles many sales opportunities, each one in a different stage of its development, and each with its own level of importance. Often the salesperson is scratching their head, confused as to which opportunities to work first and which specific sales skills will be needed. Before tactics can come into play, some prioritization needs to be put into the salesperson’s list of sales opportunities—the opportunity portfolio.
The opportunity portfolio is aptly named. Just as in a portfolio of stocks and bonds, the portfolio of open business opportunities (chances to sell) represents the total value potential for the salesperson. Sum up the portfolios across the sales team and you have the potential revenue numbers for the company. Working the opportunity portfolio with appropriate care and effectiveness can make a huge difference to the success or failure of a business. And again, just like the stock portfolio, the opportunity portfolio is populated by a wide mix of situations of different character and value. Opportunity Portfolio Management (OPM) is a system for installing order and organization within the portfolio such that the salesperson can work through it with the maximum chance of success.
The value of a sales opportunity is not just determined by the price of the goods or services being offered. There is deeper underlying value that is driven by issues such competitiveness, customer relations, salesperson’s confidence – issues that cast a glimpse on whether the sales will ultimately be won, or lost. The more the portfolio can be worked to raise this intrinsic value across all opportunities, the better, but this may need the recognition that some opportunities are of such little value that they may have to be discarded to permit more fruitful time elsewhere. Any valuation scheme must start with a sales method that truly captures the ebb and flow of the sales cycle in response to the customer’s buying process. The method has to provide an analytical framework for assessing the parameters of the sales opportunity, one that ensures accurate repeatable results, and one that is understood and respected across the entire sales team. OPM training develops just such a method, in a way that salespeople will find interesting and believable. The assumptions made in this process are difficult to challenge, and provide a convincing story even to the die-hard sceptics entrenched in their own ways of doing things.
The sales methods that form the heart of the SalesWays OPM Training Program were developed over a ten year period by a group of sales professionals who recognized that advances in technology could contribute critical advantage in competitive selling Because their design goals focused on sales techniques coupled with computer technology, the sales model they built depended on carefully constructed definitions of much of the language used to describe the sales opportunity and the sales process. With constrictions governed by the computer’s logical interface, the sales methods that evolve were tightly described with the minimum of ambiguity. This made the language of the methods easily understandable and respected by salespeople, leading to a quickening of user adoption in SFA or CRM initiatives. Now SalesWays offers detailed training of this new methodology to sales teams everywhere, delivered outside of the framework of the computer, with additional exercise and case study material to further reinforce understanding of the core concepts.