Manage strategic sales planning – through focus on 3 buckets of activities

© Tweeter Linder 2015. All rights reserved. Photo by iStock

© Tweeter Linder 2015. All rights reserved. Photo by iStock

With pursuing different types of opportunities it is vital to understand where in the execution cycle they are. Managing a larger business with a mix of now and new initiatives need structure for sales planning. This module will take you through three steps in the process. .

The first stage of opportunities is the strategic sales ideas and ambitions. In this phase you identify the areas to pursue. High level market needs and the lead customer candidates are in place. Related opportunities are grouped together. Exact scope, timing and size of how customer will seize the opportunities are uncertain. During this phase a lot of emphasis is on creating hypothesizes that is the foundation for the opportunity. Opportunities where you are replicating a previous success can move into the next phase. Activities in the phase focus on brining opportunities to a level of clarity where they move into the sales funnel.

The second stage is the sales funnel. The length of the funnel varies with type of business. Validation of timing and size for all objects in funnel are vital data points. Expect object variation with regards to regards to refining needs, and drafting solutions. This is where you test your initial initial hypothesis The focus here is to move well qualified/quantified opportunities into execution.

The sales pursuit execution is the most resource intensive part of the sales activities. Focus is on winning competitive bids or leveraging existing customer relations to expand from previous deals.

Both proactive and reactive sales organizations are suitable for execution of sales pursuits. The first two steps need proactive efforts to succeed. Building a portfolio of strategic opportunities in early stages of the market is the starting point. Proactive work to advance the opportunities from idea/ambitions into the funnel. Clarifications of details for opportunities in the funnel to secure funnel can run as smooth as possible.

Good questions to work with in this area are:

  1. What framework do we need to deal with sales ideas and ambitions in a structured way? – Lack of structure here makes transition to funnel more of a happening.
  2. What tools and discipline do we have in place to manage the sales funnel? – Vital tools to ensure business predictability.
  3. How do we measure the quality in each step of the process? – Suitable metrics is fostering the right behaviors in your organization

For additional reading in this area you might want to consider:

Your efforts in this area will bring business predictability to your company and secure a proactive approach in the early stages of building new business without losing the connection to your normal sales execution.

2 thoughts on “Manage strategic sales planning – through focus on 3 buckets of activities

  1. Good notes as usual Peter. Thanks.

    I would like to comment on the movement from Stage 1 to Stage 2. We sometimes impair acceleration in “now and new” initiative development because we linger on opportunities that are NOT opportunities, but we let ourselves continue to think they are. So qualifying is critical to define actual opportunities that move to the funnel and on to a demand for resources for the pursuit.

    • Great comment. You are right the opportunity development is time consuming and a key aspect ov moving to stage to is be releasing resources in stage 1 centered on dogs that don’t hunt.

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