An IBO Has a Persona

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Let me explain. First off, an IBO is short for the fancy name Identified Business Opportunity. At SalesWays, we prefer the term IBO because it reinforces that the deal we are working on is a real sales opportunity. John Darrin talks about filtering real opportunities from the salesperson’s pile of “stuff” in in his ongoing series “Getting Sales Done”.

A salesperson’s working existence is focused fair and square behind the sales opportunity. Without the sales opportunity there is no sale, selling or salesperson. I think a sales opportunity can have a persona just like a person. A persona is the distinct way that you may be perceived by others. It’s not difficult to tie a persona to a person who shows a distinct personality or face to the world.

The way I’m using the term here, though, is in the sense of putting character, style or image on something inanimate, in this case a sales opportunity. The reason I think I can do that goes like this. Sit down with any salesperson and review with them a list of their current active sales situations. I wager that each potential deal will engender some kind of personal response from the salesperson, ranging from positive to negative and a slice of blah in between.

From that point of view — a sales opportunity can be loved, hated, tolerated, even rejected in the mind of the salesperson — an opportunity has a persona. So what? Well, I think the persona is an indicator of something fundamental about the characterization of the IBO, and if we understand that, we can work much more effectively across a range of differing situations to extract more value from them (win more sales!).

Here are some examples of some “nice” opportunities:

“I don’t’ think the competitors even know about this one—I have a head start!”

“This customer has invested a lot in my product, it’s difficult to imagine them switching now.”

“This one deal is a million dollars, that’s my entire six-month quota”

And, these ones are not so exciting:

“This account has been buying the competitors machines for the past five years. It’s going to be a tough slog.”

“Oh dear, this is one use of my product I know nothing about. I’m really out of my comfort zone.”

“He loves my product, but I’m way too expensive for his budget. Management won’t go for it.”

You get the point. Every situation has something that makes it unique in terms of it’s attractiveness to the salesperson. The salesperson must be conscious of this. The degree to which the emotional appeal of a sales opportunity, or the combined appeal of the whole portfolio, can impact effective selling is significant.

The opportunity has to be analyzed analytically and not emotionally. The ideal way to do this is to look at all issues surrounding the customer’s decision, and to devise selling strategies that build positive appeal, that is, create “nicer” personas. I think the best way to do this is by reviewing the sales environment as described in Chapter 21 of Sales Automation Done Right, which I’ve excerpted here to make it easy.

It’s good to view the opportunity in terms of its persona at forecasting time, when emotion has to be translated in to quantitative numbers. The persona has a great deal to do with evaluation of risk and probability which is at the heart of the forecasting process.

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