Are you picking winnable large complex opportunities on emotion rather than on analysis?


Shankar looked at the pile of crushed paper cups littering the dustbin and then at the three RMs.  Turning to Azad, Head, Specialty Project Sales, he said “It’s been a long 2 hour huddle..  yet, we haven’t found an answer. Can you get Dinesh on the phone, please” 

Shankar headed the Healthcare vertical for Da Vinci Automations. The vertical had had a good run so far offering standalone Robotic Process Automation (RPA) applied to specific work flows in mid-sized hospitals.  Dinesh was VP Sales at Da Vinci, a veteran of 30 plus years of a trailblazing sales career. 

Now it looked like Da Vinci was in with a chance to break into the big league. Da Vinci had 3 leads to pursue. The meeting was to decide to which one to chase 

Shankar’s face lit up as he heard Dinesh come online. After a brief minute for pleasantries, he  summed up the decision at stake. “First time we are bidding for business from large, pan India hospital chains. This automation would be like nothing we have done before. It will call for automating patient record transfers, claims processing, billing, appointment scheduling, regulatory compliance including Covid protocols, research data reporting. We are well equipped to handle it. But each of the 3 Opportunities demand customisation. Which one do we pick?” 

Azad interrupted “And Dinesh, it will call for engaging with the Medical Director of hospital chain, the IT Heads, the CFOs, the end users and a bunch of other stakeholders. The order sizes are really big. Naturally, the hospital chains are edgy. Besides, there’s competition from established players. Customizing proposals will take a lot of time and energy” 

“Alright” said Dinesh “Guys can you sum up in one sentence, just one, which Opportunity you would choose and why. A, B or C?” 

The RMs spoke in turns: 

“I’m all for proposal C. This hospital chain CEO is known to us from his earlier days in another group who were buying standalone solutions from us and that familiarity will give us comfort in pitching” 

“My vote is for A because that hospital group has grown by acquiring a good number of smaller hospitals and their requirement is so complicated and novel, we’ll have the pride of executing a project that no one has done” 

“B is the one we should work on as it is a marquee logo and will look great on our client list. Also, the deal size is huge and it is time we shed our inhibitions and did something on a mega scale” 

“Thanks folks” said Shankar “Dinesh, I am no wiser than I was when we started. Unfortunately, there’s no certainty which one will click. We can’t afford to chase all three. What is your take?” 

Dinesh said “Prospecting in large complex sales, is like cricket. Imagine you’re the last batsman in with 12 runs to score in the last over. How do you choose which deliveries to play and which to let go? Will you decide to smash the first ball you face out of the ground, because you want to show the bowler who is the boss and then you can score the remaining runs easily?” 

One of the RMs said “No Sir, that would be suicidal. You could get out trying it and lose the match” 

“Exactly my point” said Dinesh “As batting coaches never tire of telling you, play each ball on its merit. Emotion and impulse have no room. What’s needed is cool headed, quick analysis of which ball to score off. So too, it is in prospecting large complex sales.  Actually, there are 3 simple questions you have to ask yourself to pick the right opportunities. This goes back to my early day sales training. I will mail a handout copy I have retained with me. You test each of your opportunities against those 3 questions and you will have your answer. I will join you tomorrow at 11 in the morning to steer you to a final decision” 

Does your sales team ask these 3 critical questions when prospecting for large complex deals? 

Bigger is better, right?  Not always. There are 3 important questions that the sales teams must ask when prospecting for large complex opportunities. Here’s why … 

  1. Is the opportunity real? – This is a brutal but necessary question to ask before getting to work on any complex sale opportunity. Often with complex, large deals, it is not about ‘which door to open’ but ‘whether the door will open at all for us’ or sometimes ‘which door to not to open or avoid?’ An all-too familiar scenario: Giant companies and corporate groups floating RFPs and invite quotes for complex solutions more to comply with a laid down process, when they are already inclined towards a specific solution provider 
  1. Is it attractive? – Complex opportunities corner valuable and scarce resources for the seller. There is a need to use these resources wisely and appropriately. Veterans in complex sales, know that the secret of profitable selling is in cherry picking deals that offer maximum pay offs relative to the resources and time used up. The question boils down to: Is the opportunity worth converting? 
  1. Is it winnable? - Large and complex opportunities typically involve:

| Large volumes | Big margins at stake | Sale of a strategic product | Acquisition of a strategic client

All this calls for both ‘strategic thinking’ and ‘tactical actioning’. Building a complex solution, demands investment of expertise from a range of groups in the selling organisation. Is the combined expertise within the organisation adequate to win the deal, beating competition? So, winnability is a crucial deciding factor to consider before embarking on pursuing an opportunity for conversion. 


When prospecting for large complex deals, how do you pick and choose which large opportunities to pursue? Do you and your team go by emotions, or reasons?  

Watch this space, as we highlight issues that threaten to sabotage large complex deal wins, and what you can do to overcome such threat.

Want to get better at prospecting of large complex deals?
To know more about the O2O Process, and how it can bring in greater rigor to your prospecting and sales conversion, leave your contact details here.  A Mercuri India Consultant will be happy to call you at your convenience to understand your needs better, and put together an O2O Solution for you and your Team.  Let’s talk.  Let’s make sales happen!

Below are some related reading links that point to how you can get better at prospecting for large complex opportunities.

Happy Selling!

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