QUALIFIES: Cherry picks the best opportunities to work on

QUALIFIES: Cherry picks the best opportunities to work on

“Look at this” Esha shouted.

Two cubicles away Mugda stood up to peer. Her eyes lit up in a smile above the mask. “You would have made a good TV journalist, Eshi. So what’s today’s exclusive newsbreak?”

Esha waved an issue of Harvard Business Review . “One of my Unlock resolutions is to up my reading and stay ahead professionally. So I spend an hour every day catching up on something that will improve my understanding of sales and our business. And I found this stunning article today. You should read this highlighted section” she said, stretching out to pass the magazine.

Mugda thumbed through to get to the passage Esha had marked in florescent pink, in an article headlined ‘How AI is Changing Sales’

“Lead Scoring:

A salesperson with a rich pipeline of qualified potential clients has to make decisions on a daily, or even hourly, basis as to where to focus their time when it comes to closing deals to hit their monthly or quarterly quota. Often, this decision-making process is based on gut instinct and incomplete information. With AI, the algorithm can compile historical information about a client, along with social media postings and the salesperson’s customer interaction history (e.g., emails sent, voicemails left, text messages sent, etc.) and rank the opportunities or leads in the pipeline according to their chances of closing successfully”

“So, Ms.TV Anchor? What’s so sensational about this?’” said Mugda

“You don’t understand Eshi. Qualifying leads is one area where human intervention added a lot of value. I always thought opportunity evaluation is something only smart salespeople can do. Now this articles says a bot can step in. It makes me worry that our workspace is shrinking. Covid has made business prospecting a big challenge. If you add AI to the mix, I think we will get dinosaured”

“Know what Eshi? Bots can’t replace the intelligence of smart salespeople like you and me” said Mugda, pausing to check if Eshi had laughed.

Catching Eshi’s smile, Mugda went on “Potential for closure cannot be the only variable in ranking opportunities. Large opportunities, for instance, involve investing considerable time and effort. So, size and winnability cannot be the sole selection criteria. Weighing the costs involved is a critical skill to pick the right opportunities to pursue. And a business like ours that sells high quality interiors to airports, hospitals and hotels cannot manage without those skills”

“You mean, our incentives for the next few years at least, are assured?’” asked Esha

“Yes” said Mugda “AI will be a big time sales enabler. But it can’t replace the salesperson. Ever”

Smart sales professionals are adept at cherry picking the best opportunities to work on. As Mugda argued with Esha in our story, sales experts almost reflexively qualify the leads they choose for further effort. They constantly recall their learnings from situations, where a large amount of costly resources was invested only to discover at the end that maybe it wasn’t an opportunity worth the effort.

They train themselves to use a structured '4 way test to qualify opportunities' upfront. This involves checking whether each opportunity passes these 4 tests –

  1. Is it realistic enough to be worked on?
  2. Attractive enough for to be pursued
  3. Winnable enough?
  4. Is there a structured GO / NO GO process in place?

Big achievers in sales invest in honing their opportunity qualifying skills. They stay resilient by maximizing their effort/ results pay off on all opportunities.

Action Question:  Make a list of the top 10 leads in your pipeline. Can you rank them using the '4 Point Opportunity Assessment Test' ?

Related Reading: Mercuri Insight Document on Are you managing your opportunities well enough?

About the series: This is the 42nd in a series of 100 Posts that purport to build your #Sales Resilience.. as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


38.METICULOUS: Always plans and prepares for every little detail

Why attention to detail can give you an unfair advantage?

September 04, 2020Read more


40.COMPETITIVE: Competes fiercely but never runs down competition

When Champions sell, their Customers feel they bought it all by themselves. How do they do it?

September 04, 2020Read more