AS2.1.3-Qualify (10%)

About Qualifying Opportunities...

One of the keys to success in business development is picking winnable battles.

Effectively qualifying prospects will prevent you from wasting valuable resources on lost causes and allow you to allocate your resources and focus your energy on the more winnable opportunities. For each opportunity, salespeople must weigh the resources required to stay in the pursuit versus the chances of winning. What you have invested in pursuit of this opportunity thus far should not be factored into this equation.

You must make this evaluation objectively and without emotion, and re-qualify as conditions change. Remember, hope is not a strategy. If you've determined that you do have a chance of winning, it is crucial that you anticipate the resources you will need and communicate this to your team.

What resources are required to get to the Next Major Step?

To ascertain whether your prospect is worth pursuing, you will want to consider the next major step you should take, your resource allocation for this opportunity in light of your other prospects, and your available resources. Not all qualified opportunities merit the same resource allocation. You should re-evaluate how much resource allocation a prospect merits after each step, if any at all.

Coaching Questions
- Why do you think that we should proceed with this account?
- Are the resources that you allocate justified given this prospect and any others you are currently pursuing?
- Have you communicated the need for resources to presales, consulting, and management?

How you qualify an opportunity depends on a number of factors. All of them must be considered before you can accurately qualify an opportunity. Resist the tendency to plow ahead on an opportunity based on your emotions. This may lead to wasting your valuable resources on a lost cause and not having them available for winnable opportunities.

Questions to Ask the ACCOUNT
- Has top management recognized this problem?
- Is there money in the budget to solve it?
- If not, is that a problem?
- Whose budget is it anyway?
- What is the cost of doing nothing?

Coaching Questions
- Does the prospect have the ability and motivation to buy?
- Is this project budgeted?
- Is this company financially stable?
- Is there a big enough business problem to motivate the ACCOUNT to buy?
- What is the source of urgency for the ACCOUNT?
- Does this project have a political sponsor?
- Are there any other projects or events that could threaten this project?
- What is the approval process?
- If you pursue the next steps, what is the cost (in time spent)?
- Based on this analysis, is there a better opportunity where you should use these resources?
- Why do you think that we should proceed with this account?

1. Document Problem/Issue/Risks > Enterprise

What is the Enterprise-level Problem/Issue/Risk?

An issue, or Problem/Issue/Risk, is something that motivates the ACCOUNT's behavior.  An enterprise-level Problem/Issue/Risk is one that you have uncovered from talking directly to executives or drawing conclusions based on your exposure to other sources.

Include both active and dormant Problem/Issue/Risks. There are two types of dormant Problem/Issue/Risk:
1. those which the ACCOUNT does not yet "feel", and
2. those for which the ACCOUNT does not know a solution exists.

To uncover and raise dormant Problem/Issue/Risks, you will need to research the ACCOUNT and their business, and then use the information you have gathered to find and raise dormant Problem/Issue/Risk.

Strive to identify higher levels of Problem/Issue/Risk. Remember, not all Problem/Issue/Risks are equal. Rather, there is a hierarchy of needs. Remember that Strategic, Political, Financial, and Cultural Problem/Issue/Risks are those of more powerful individuals.  The higher the individuals to which you can link your proposed solution and demonstrate benefit, the better your chances to win the opportunity and establish value for your solution.

Give examples of Problem/Issue/Risks, such as:
- Warehouse overtime costs are out of control (Operational Problem/Issue/Risk) which CAUSES;
- Warehouse managers are reluctant to share information with each other (Cultural Problem/Issue/Risk) which CAUSES;
- Drop in earnings per share, stock price (Financial Problem/Issue/Risk) which CAUSES;
- New VP of Operations on hot seat about warehouse integration (Political Problem/Issue/Risk) which CAUSES;
- Loss of market share (Strategic Problem/Issue/Risk).

Do not confuse the ACCOUNT's stated requirements with their real Problem/Issue/Risks. An ACCOUNT sends out an RFP with a set of requirements. Problem/Issue/Risks are the business needs that drive these requirements. You may be able to offer a solution that doesn't match the ACCOUNT's stated requirements, but if it solves their Problem/Issue/Risk, the ACCOUNT's original requirements go out the window.

Examples of requirements include: web tools or technology; integration with existing systems; security requirements, etc. Give examples of Problem/Issue/Risks instead. They are much more powerful.

Questions to Ask the ACCOUNT
- What are the consequences of ignoring this Problem/Issue/Risk?
- Who else in your organization is affected by this? Why?
- What do you think must be done to solve the Problem/Issue/Risk?

Enterprise Problem/Issue/Risks Coaching Questions
- Why have you chosen this particular enterprise-level Problem/Issue/Risk to focus on?
- What do I know about the strategic, political, financial and cultural situation of my ACCOUNT?
- What is my source for this information? (LinkedIn)
- Have I cross-checked the information? (LinkedIn)
- If you know someone whom would be advantageous to link to but who has no ostensible Problem/Issue/Risk, can you find and raise Problem/Issue/Risk for that individual? If so, identify this in the Tactical Action Plan.
- How will the competitor(s) try to neutralize this issue?
- What are the individuals' professional and personal agendas?
- What is their business Problem/Issue/Risk and how large is it?
- Is the Problem/Issue/Risk enough to force change?
- What is the cause of this Problem/Issue/Risk?

After you identify the enterprise-level Problem/Issue/Risk, you need to identify the cause of this Problem/Issue/Risk.
For example:
If the enterprise-level Problem/Issue/Risk is a loss of market value (stock price),
- is it caused by a dramatic increase in costs, shortfall in revenue, or
- a shift in the market?

Are you sure you are at the root cause of the Problem/Issue/Risk? In other words, is this the business operation that must be fixed (or initiated) to solve the Problem/Issue/Risk?

2. Document (Problem/Issue/Risk)s aka "Shark Chart"

(Problem/Issue/Risk)s or, perceived gains, are what cause people to buy. To sell to an entire organization, you need to understand (Problem/Issue/Risk)s at multiple levels. Ask yourself, "How can you link to (Problem/Issue/Risk)s at each level of the ACCOUNT's organization and how can you do it better than your competitors?"

When you consider (Problem/Issue/Risk), remember the concept of the Food Chain of (Problem/Issue/Risk), (a.k.a. the "Shark Chart") which helps you to:
- identify the (Problem/Issue/Risk)s that your ACCOUNT faces,
- identify the causes of these (Problem/Issue/Risk)s,
- characterize how your solution addresses the ACCOUNT's (Problem/Issue/Risk)s better than your competitors' solutions,
- link the (Problem/Issue/Risk) to other (Problem/Issue/Risk)s on the Food Chain of Value, and
- be able to answer the question "Who Cares?" for each of these (Problem/Issue/Risk)s.

The Food Chain of (Problem/Issue/Risk) ("Shark Chart")
The "Shark Chart" helps you link the high-level issues, or (Problem/Issue/Risk)s, in the prospect's organization to your proposed solution. These enterprise-level issues are expressed as Strategic, Political, Financial, Cultural, and Operational "(Problem/Issue/Risk)s". A "(Problem/Issue/Risk)" can also be an opportunity, or a "gain". To make this linkage, you need to articulate the ACCOUNT's (Problem/Issue/Risk)s, your company's differentiating advantages in addressing those (Problem/Issue/Risk)s, and the benefits that your solution will have to one or more specific decision-makers in the ACCOUNT organization. The higher the individuals to which you link your proposed solution and demonstrate benefit, the better your chances to win the opportunity.

Remember that organizations do not have (Problem/Issue/Risk) - individuals within the organization do. As a result, when your solution addresses one of these (Problem/Issue/Risk)s, individuals within the organization will benefit. The ultimate purpose of the Shark Chart is to develop the linkage for the levels of (Problem/Issue/Risk) and determine "who cares?" about the level of (Problem/Issue/Risk).  The individuals you identify here are the stakeholders for this opportunity, and you must gain their preference in order to win the sale.

Include both active and dormant (Problem/Issue/Risk)s.

There are two types of dormant (Problem/Issue/Risk):
1. those which the ACCOUNT does not yet "feel", and
2. those for which the ACCOUNT does not know a solution exists.

To uncover and raise dormant (Problem/Issue/Risk)s, you will need to research the ACCOUNT and their business, and then use the information you have gathered to find and raise dormant (Problem/Issue/Risk).

Strive to identify higher levels of (Problem/Issue/Risk). Remember, not all (Problem/Issue/Risk)s are equal. Rather, there is a hierarchy of needs. Remember that Strategic, Political, Financial, and Cultural (Problem/Issue/Risk)s are those of more powerful individuals. The higher the individuals to which you can link your proposed solution and demonstrate benefit, the better your chances to win the opportunity and establish value for your solution.

Coaching Questions
- Are you sure you are at the root cause of the (Problem/Issue/Risk)? In other words, is this the business operation that must be fixed (or initiated) to solve the (Problem/Issue/Risk)?
- What is the ACCOUNT's vision or initiative to solve the (Problem/Issue/Risk)?
- What do you think they should do?
- What is the ACCOUNT's experience level?
- Based on the ACCOUNT's experience level, are requirements likely to change during the sales cycle?

Can we help?
Think about whether you can address the ACCOUNT's issue, or (Problem/Issue/Risk), with your solution. Be honest with yourself. You may identify issues you can't solve. You need to pay special attention to these issues because they represent threats to your project:
1. Can we solve the (Problem/Issue/Risk) and satisfy the ACCOUNT?
2. Can we do it profitably?
3. Can we link to strategic issues?

3. Document (Problem/Issue/Risk)s > Linkage

(Problem/Issue/Risk)s and benefits are connected to individuals, not organizations. Failing to link a (Problem/Issue/Risk) to an individual means that you are not accounting for a potential stakeholder in the decision. You can be sure that if you don't account for this stakeholder, your competitor will.

(Problem/Issue/Risk)s occur at all levels on the Food Chain of Value ("Shark Chart"). The highest-level (Problem/Issue/Risk)s are Strategic, followed by Political, Financial, Cultural, and Operational. While you may feel more comfortable talking to non-executives about how you can address their operational and technical (Problem/Issue/Risk)s, it is critical that you be able to move up the Food Chain of Value. This is where you will gain true competitive advantage.

(Problem/Issue/Risk) Linkage Coaching Questions
- What do I know about the operational needs of my ACCOUNT?
- Are these operational needs linked to higher-level (Problem/Issue/Risk)s?
- What do I know about the strategic, political, financial, and cultural situation of my ACCOUNT?
- What is my source for this information?
- Have I cross-checked the information?
- If we know someone to whom it would be advantageous to link, but who has no ostensible (Problem/Issue/Risk), can we find and raise (Problem/Issue/Risk) for that individual?
- If so, identify this in the Project Charter.
- To whom will we personally deliver this message?