In most companies, senior management encourages focus on the sales opportunities that are landing this month or this quarter to achieve targets and fulfill the expectations of key stakeholders, shareholders, and the broader investment community.
While this is, without a doubt, a prudent thing to do, the challenge with this approach is clear. Not every sales opportunity has a lifecycle of one, two or three months.
We often see companies that have game-changing opportunities on their longer-term horizon, a year or two out from now, but being so busy in the here and now, they don’t have the bandwidth to focus any effort on them.
The opportunity to understand the customer early on is lost. Your ability to shape their perceptions of you as the selling organisation and to put you in the box seat to win their business once they go to market with an RFT is now limited. In many companies, it's often a case of extraordinary well-intended heroics going on, too little too late. So what can do to take the pressure off the heroes and position ourselves to win long-term deals?
To help you and your team focus on the longer-term game changers, here is a very simple checklist of ideas to follow:
- Input into your CRM system your best guess of when the RFT will come to market
- Assign a pursuit team, including an opportunity owner, bid manager, key subject matter expert and any other roles that need to be part of the team
- Schedule a team meeting at least every three months to discuss the opportunity and to document your progress on:
- Engaging with the customer – the extent to which they have been taking your calls, meeting with you
- Understanding the customer, the various stakeholders and their needs
- Identifying the competitor landscape and customer perceptions of them
- Identifying and assigning tasks and actions to advance your position in the eyes of the customer
- Assign a bid cost code early so you can track in the investment your team is making in positioning for the opportunity pre RFT release. The question is, are you investing enough?
- If a competitor is an incumbent on the contract and the customer refuses to take calls or meetings from your team, cease the pursuit. Likewise, if the customer does talk/meet with you but can’t articulate any compelling reasons for ousting their incumbent supplier. Lose early.
- If you are the incumbent on a contract, start the three-month opportunity review cycle from the date of the contract award
- Identify any service challenges you have had and document what you have done to address them
- Seek quotes/testimonials from the customer about the great work you have done for them during the period and document these along with any other proof points around your performance on the contract
- Identify where you have delivered beyond the scope of the original contract and assign a value to that wherever possible. Document this too.
- Identify any changes to the stakeholders within your customer and assign tasks/actions to call and meet with them
No rocket science at play here obviously, just a more disciplined approach to apply on the must-win deals that are pending in your world in the coming months and years.