Agile Sales Opportunity Pursuit Framework
"Opportunity Vitals" are an objective set of criteria used in our Sprint Selling training program to measure progress. The Opportunity Vitals are pain, power, vision, value, and consensus.
In this blog post, explore each of these criteria in greater detail.
Opportunity Vitals Anchor Sales Activities to Facts
Opportunity vitals make agile selling possible by focusing selling efforts on facts, not assumptions. They help sellers answer the “what,” and the “how” of selling in today’s setting.
- The “what” reveals the crucial sales activities sellers must engage in
- The “how” reveals the specific skills and dialogues needed to execute those activities
Opportunity ensure every action a seller takes is informed by a verifiable fact which helps them focus on the activities that will truly advance the sale.
Opportunity vitals bring renewed clarity to selling at a time when the pursuit has become more complicated amid increasing stakeholders, shifting customer needs, and sophisticated solutions.
The Agile Sales Pursuit Framework
Here, we offer a deep dive into the five opportunity vitals. We explain why each one matters and how they work so that the seller can put the criteria into practice immediately for results that can be seen.
This first vital refers to the task of understanding a customer’s pain.
A pain is a critical business issue or a missed opportunity. Knowing the customer’s pain is important because their discomfort is what compels them to seek a solution and make a purchase.
Problems, issues, and opportunities that are not connected to a deeper emotional feeling of pain will likely go unaddressed.
A pain can be identified if it satisfies three key criteria:
- It is personal, job-specific, and something the person is measured on or tasked with
- It can be quantified and serves as a gauge of improvement
- It is negatively stated
Pain has an emotional and logical dimension to it. Pain is something buyers feel or fear because of something negative.
Sellers must remember that pain is experienced at individual and organizational levels. Examples of pain include rising operating costs, falling revenue, loss of market share, or missed revenue due to a late entry into a particular market.
To better understand their customer's pain, sellers need to ask themselves the following questions:
- Has the customer admitted that a critical need must be addressed?
- Do we understand the reasons for the pain and the cost of the pain?
Once the seller has identified a customer or customer's pain, they can map relevant capabilities to it to create a differentiated value statement.
Power refers to the person or group of people who have the influence and authority over the outcome of the sale. To be successful, sales professionals need to access this group and position their solution in a way that resonates with them.
Sellers must be clear on their understanding of who is in power. Identifying those in power is a three-part process:
- Build an understanding of the buyer's decision-making process and the players
- Observe those who lead the conversations
- Identify the stakeholder responsible for managing timelines and budgets
Once the power has been identified sellers must access them.
Getting access starts with asking the current contact for it. The best way to do this is to position the suggestion by explaining the benefit of starting the conversation with the decision-maker early. The seller can ask for information and insight about the new stakeholder and then collaborate with the contact on an agenda and next steps.
After gaining access, the seller can start the work of identifying the new stakeholder's interests by asking themselves the following questions:
- What is the stakeholder’s interest in the project?
- What role does that person perform in the decision?
- What level of influence does the stakeholder have on the project?
Vision refers to how a customer sees themselves using the capabilities of the solution.
The seller plays an important role in building this vision by working to improve the customer’s insight into their challenges and then drawing clear lines between the challenges and how their solution solves them in a meaningful and quantifiable way.
The vision is subject to the buyer's changing needs, so it's critical that sellers constantly check in and make the necessary adjustments to their positioning to ensure continuous alignment. Continuous adjustment creates opportunities for the seller to illustrate differentiated aspects of the solution and connect those characteristics to the customer’s needs.
To better evaluate how well they have shaped their customer's vision sellers need to ask themselves the following questions:
- Have we aligned on a buying vision that addresses the customer's full scope of needs, now and in the future?
- Does the shared vision highlight our solution's unique differentiators?
- Do we have evidence that this solution will deliver real business results for the buyer?
Value refers to the measurable business factors that the solution will improve. Examples of these factors include expected revenue gain, gross margin, and long-term savings.
The value of the solution must exceed the status quo and all other competing solutions the customer is evaluating.
Demonstrating value requires the seller to convert qualitative benefits to quantitative ones. To do so the seller must drill down to the numbers the customer wants to change. With this information, the seller can define the business impact their solution will provide.
Articulating value is best accomplished with the creation of a formal value statement that consists of three parts:
- A comprehensive description of the customer's pain.
- A compelling description of the ways the proposed solution addresses the customer's pain and helps them achieve their current and future goals.
- A concrete and quantifiable outline of the business benefits the solution will deliver.
To better evaluate how well they are creating and articulating value sellers need to ask themselves the following questions:
- Are we creating value in the buying experience?
- Have we positioned the value of our solution in a relevant and compelling way?
- Have we quantified value in a way that outweighs the pain?
Consensus is achieved when the individual needs of every stakeholder have been addressed and there is agreement within the buying committee that the proposed solution delivers the value they're looking for.
Reaching a consensus means getting stakeholders to agree that the solution satisfies three key criteria:
- The solution can be easily implemented
- The risk of not purchasing is significant
- The expected return justifies the cost
If the stakeholders agree on these three parts the deal is highly likely to move forward.
Throughout the process of building consensus, sellers deepen their understanding of needs as conversations with new stakeholders reveal more details. The key is to remember building consensus is an ongoing process. It is ongoing because it involves many stakeholders whose needs will change throughout the buying journey.
The process of building consensus is best managed through a formal collaboration plan. A collaboration plan consists of three parts:
- Starting every conversation with a recap of the current solution, reinforcing value, and checking in on process alignment
- A cadence that ensures the buyer and seller are in constant contact to reaffirm their shared understanding of the solution and ensure all needs (new and old) are being addressed
- Ending every conversation with a recap of the next steps, follow-up actions, and timelines
To better evaluate how well they are building consensus sellers need to ask themselves the following questions:
- Do we have an agreed-upon collaboration plan?
- Are we progressing to a decision?
Bring Efficiency and Structure to Selling with Opportunity Vitals
If a sales team is going to execute the skills of top performers consistently, they need a clear set of actions to guide their approach. The Opportunity Vitals offer exactly that with a concise group of goals that map to the buyer’s iterative journey.
Opportunity vitals help sellers flex and stay focused on outcomes. With this approach, sellers have more than a fixed set of actions to fulfill, they have a way to identify gaps preventing movement, and a method for targeting critical customer information early.
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