Sales Process, Step 3: The opportunity phase

First when you’re working a prospect, the key question you’re solving for is “Why should this person listen to me?” That’s the introductory phase of the sales process. Once you overcome that and the prospect is listening, now your challenge becomes “Why should he care what I’m saying?” That’s the discovery phase. You’ve moved that prospect from “OH GOD I’M SO SLAMMED CAN YOU MAYBE TRY ME LATER?” to “I’m interested…” But interested doesn’t pay for your vacation. Now we need to move from interested to taking action. Welcome, friends, to the opportunity phase.

Sales Process Buyer Journey

What’s the short term goal of the opportunity phase?

You want the prospect to commit to some type of analysis with you. Analysis of the problem, his current situation, his alternatives, etc. You’ve overcome “Why should I listen to you?” and “Why should I care about you?” and now the question is “Why should I change from what I’m currently doing?” This is the backbone of the whole Challenger Sales model (high five to Matthew Dixon from CEB).

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How do you get there?

You’ve got a bunch of marketing tools at your disposal — landing pages, newsletters, blogs, white papers, how-to videos, etc. — but at this stage, the pure sales tools are still more powerful.

Buying is about losing the status quo, and that’s what is happening in the opportunity stage. Here you can introduce field sales and inside sales, but there’s a problem.

As was also discussed in The Challenger Customer, most sales guys try this route:

  • Discuss how great Situation B is
  • Extol the virtues of Situation B
  • Show the ROI of Situation B
  • Explain how Situation B is absolutely the greatest thing in human history

But see, sometimes Situation B is looking amazing — often too amazing — and the prospect still does nothing. The change seems too radical. The gap is too big. They stay with their current solution.

Martin from BizXPand says this to people sometimes and they look at him weird: the opportunity stage of sales is about destruction and loss. What? Yes. You need to destroy the status quo. Situation “A” (where the buyer sits now) has to actually look harmful to them, or else they’ll stay there and not move to “B” (what you are trying to sell).

Can you do that with a commercial proposal or a product live demo? No! Right now the buyer doesn’t care about you and your solution. He still dances around his Situation A and slowly understands that this picture loses its benefit. 

You have only 2 powerful weapons in this battle: consultative selling in the field or on the phone. period.

Next we’re going to move down the funnel, where you move the prospect from “active” to “committed to change.” After that, it’s just one step to the final victory.

 

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