How to Run a Planning Session to Win a Critical Sales Opportunity


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Earlier in the week I delivered a webinar for Sales and Marketing Management magazine entitled, “How to Run a Planning Session to Win a Critical Sales Opportunity.” Before I started ESR I worked as a backstage coach helping companies win very competitive, big ticket sales opportunities. So I know a lot about that subject. S&MM was looking for me to contribute to their executive series of webinars, so I chose that subject. (You may know that I write the regular sales training column for the magazine. If you haven’t read the latest issue, here is Dancing Lessons.)

Although in numbers of industries, the direct/outside selling model is rapidly being transformed to inside and reseller approaches to market, in fact, there are plenty of big deals out there and the competition within them is ruthless. Pursuing these deals without a process is malpractice, in our view.

Of course critical and big as they apply to deals are relative. A large, critical make/break the quarter deal for a $5 million company may be (only) $300k. For a Fortune 50 it could be $100 million. But however big your company is, you get to decide what’s a critical win and what isn’t.

Just to be clear, there are three processes in play here:

  1. First is the sales process. (Pre-determined steps, actions, gates, activities, tactics, etc., to win a deal.)
  2. Then there is an opportunity management process. (Determining the specific sales objective, strategies, tactics, qualification criteria, customer information, etc.)
  3. Finally there is a deal review process. (Taking a salesperson through validating their plan and their approach.)

Depending on which sales training company you’re speaking with, those terms may be different.

Here are some of the critical components of a sales opportunity planning session:

  • Assessing and priortizing information that has been gathered by the sales person.
  • Determining what additional information is required, by when, and from whom in the customer’s company that information should come.
  • Engaging in the discipline of planning through working the plan. In other words, the value isn’t in the physical manifestion of the sales plan. It’s in the effort, thought, and collaboration behind building that plan.
  • Collaboration among sales rep, manager, other team members, and outside consultants, where appropriate. (In certain situations I used to work on contingency.)
  • Formulation of objectives, strategies, and tactics based on information, analysis, and logic—not guesswork.
  • Measuring the progress of the opportunity since the last session.
  • Assess risks and rewards for continuing to pursue.

I had the opportunity to use a series of screenshots taken from The TAS Group’s Dealmaker sales process automation software (with permission, of course) to demonstrate best practices in qualification.

I provided a series of diagnostic questions that would likely compel the salesrep to need to get more information from the customer.

If you’d like to view the recording or download the slides visit SMMConnect’s site here.

Finally, join me on April 4, 2013, when I’ll be presenting “How to Interview Sales Candidates Without Getting Sold“.)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Stein
Dave specializes in helping his clients win critical B2B sales opportunities as well as helping them hire the best sales talent.Dave is co-author of Beyond the Sales Process. He wrote the best-selling How Winners Sell in 2004.


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