Opportunity Triangulation: How a dollar becomes a quarter.

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As a sales leader, it’s customary to have weekly or monthly sales meetings. During these meetings, the sales leader will often go around the table (or call) and ask each of their sales team members to talk about upcoming opportunities.

The purpose for this type of round table discussion is several fold. It gives the sales leader the opportunity to find out relevant field information from their team. It allows the sales leader to feel the pulse of the business and understand what is happening with key accounts.

Now, a good sales person will listen to what their colleagues are reporting. However, more often than not, they are busy answering emails, checking messages, etc. This is especially true when the meeting is held as a call. This is where the first point of Triangulation falls down.

Next, a good sales leader will ask certain probing questions. However, you can’t probe every opportunity on the call for the sake of time. Therefore, if the sales leader misses some key pieces of information, the second point of Triangulation falls down.

By the end of the call, the sales leader thanks everyone for their time and updates and adds $1M to the forecast for the quarter. The only problem is, the leader is WAY off!

Let me explain.

Imagine this fictitious sales team works for ACME company. ACME company develops custom software solutions for call center applications. ACME is a growing company with a decent footprint in the industry. They have 10 sales people nationwide, all of whom were just on this call. Four of the sales people just mentioned they have a great new opportunity for $250k that will close this quarter. The sales leader, depending on how good they are, will enter this as either $1M, or maybe the leader is a bit more seasoned and enters it as $750k, maybe even $500k, to be on the safe side. Sound good? No, it’s terrible and here’s why.

In reality, there is one, true end customer, call them Global Telecom. Global Telecom is building a new call center. They expect it will employ 100 new people and will require about $250k worth of call center software. The construction and implementation of the new center is sent out to bid. Four of the major national contractors receive the RFP. In order to develop their proposal, they need to determine, among other things, how much the software will cost. Each contractor reaches out to a number of software suppliers, including ACME. But each of the four contractors are located across the country, so it ends up in 4 different ACME territories as a $250k opportunity. Are you starting to see the problem?

If the sales team members, or the sales leader, fail to triangulate the fact that these 4 opportunities are in fact all for the SAME customer, they will fail to realize that the actual worth of the opportunity is only $250k. Likely at it’s best. That’s if plans don’t change, a competitor doesn’t win, or the call center doesn’t end up being built offshore instead.

In this illustration, it’s easy to follow. But in real life, each bid is slightly different, because each contractor has a slightly different approach. The opportunities may come in at slightly different times, etc. Worse, your immensely expensive and wonderful CRM tool will not be able to pick up on this without human insight.

In the end, what appears to be a $1M incremental opportunity is in fact worth a quarter, maybe less, and only if you win it.

Your only defense is a well trained team. Processes and software systems can’t outperform human insight and intelligence in these cases.

Want to learn about how to protect yourself and your team from these scenarios? My team are experts on how to help you manage for these and many other common sales team pitfalls. Ask us how!

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