Getting Sales Done #9 – Review:  Reviewing your Opportunities

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So far, following David Allen’s Getting Things Done process and applying it to opportunity management, we have collected our leads, processed them through our own lead qualification method, started the organization process by setting up the sales cycle, established a time reckoning system to monitor our progress, set the probability of winning, assigned a priority value, and categorized all of our opportunities for review and action.

The five categories we established included the expected first, second, and third levels, and two unusual ones specific to effective opportunity management – Leave It Alone and Breakthrough Strategy Needed. All of our open opportunities were placed in one of these, organized for review. Let’s look at how we can most effectively accomplish that.

Let’s start with what to review. Remember, we are reviewing at this stage, not acting. The purpose of reviewing is to assure that you are aware of everything, not acting on something. Use your own process for doing this – scanning, taking notes, whatever you need to capture the information you need for the next step, acting.

Start at the top. It just makes good sense and it also means that should (when) you get interrupted, you’ll have at least seen the most pressing opportunities. I say pressing instead of important because categorizing like this means what is important today, in other words the most pressing, and not necessarily what is the most important tomorrow or in your overall business strategy.

In sales, that means Breakthrough Strategy Needed. These are the most time sensitive, so look at them first. And, because of your poor position in the customer’s preference, decisions can be made very quickly whether such a strategy is possible.

The remaining order is as expected – 1, 2, 3, Leave It Alone. Not much mystery there.

With just the five categories, you could have anywhere from a few opportunities in each one if you’re selling passenger jets, to a hundred or more if you’re selling commodities. Within each category, you’ll want to further sort these by criteria important to your situation: dollar value, strategic importance, customer relations, last action, etc.

When to review is the next issue. That, too, depends on your sales situation. If your sales cycles are short, you’ll be reviewing more often. If they are long, you can get away with greater intervals. In general, it’s a good idea to review things at least every Monday to get your head back into your portfolio and get ready to plan your week.

Keep in mind that priority is a dynamic concept. Time is one of the major components of priority, and time happens whether you’re doing anything or not. That means your priority and categorization will change constantly, a factor to consider as you set your review process and schedule.

Another consideration is one we’ll get into more when we examine the Act step in the next installment – top priority in your review process doesn’t necessarily mean top priority in your act process. Review is there to set the stage for action.

And lastly, all of your categories depend on the start and end of your sales cycle. So, if your end date has passed, how can you prioritize the opportunity? You can’t – it’s overdue. And overdue isn’t a category, it’s a problem. Fix it by re-setting your sales cycle end date, and always keep everything up to date.

As mentioned, next installment we’ll get into Act.

This post is part of the Getting Sales Done series. Here are the other articles in this series:

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