Priority is an important concept in selling. It helps us to determine how we should organize our work on the opportunities in our portfolios in order to maximize their value, and maximize our income. Although the idea is intuitive in theory, it is not always obvious in the reality and pressures of dealing with real sales opportunities in real time.
There are many ways to prioritize opportunities. We may prioritize based on order potential (size), the strategic nature of the prospect, or our estimated probability of success, for example. Although these are acceptable practices, they may not guarantee we will maximize the results of our efforts. A large potential order with very limited likelihood of success may prove to be a time sink that prevents us from acting on opportunities that might result in a larger payoff. Similarly, focusing a lot of time on a high probability opportunity might be a waste of time if it is a “sure thing”.
ASPEC brings a systematic rigor to opportunity management that is proven to maximize the value of the portfolio. It recognizes that all opportunities are not created equal, and that we have to look beyond potential order size or probability of success and consider the time we have left in the sales cycle, and our own ability to influence the sale. And that means that ASPEC will often assign a high priority to an opportunity that is not the largest potential or highest probability, but where we have both the time and the ability to influence the outcome while assigning a lower priority to opportunities that are larger or that have a high probability of success.
Keith Thompson provides an excellent analogy of how this works in his book Sales Automation Done Right. Consider a game of cards – perhaps a game of bridge or euchre. When the cards are dealt to you, it is likely that you will arrange the cards in your hand in some fashion rather than leave them randomly arranged as they were dealt. You will probably arrange them by suit and in order from high to low or low to high. Now, when it comes time to actually play the game, will you always play the cards in the order that you have arranged them in your hand? That is highly unlikely. I suspect that you will play your cards in a manner that will maximize the value of the cards you have in your hand. You may lead a low trump card to draw out a larger one from your opponent, for example, or lead another card in reaction to a card lead by your opponent. A skillful player can often win against the stronger hands of their opponents simply by the timing that they play the cards they are dealt.
This same concept applies to our opportunity portfolio where the skillful salesperson is the one that can play the hand they are dealt (the opportunity portfolio), in a manner that they maximize its overall value. By approaching priority in this way, ASPEC gives the skillful salesperson a competitive edge that can significantly improve overall sales performance.
I should point out that, unlike cards, as salespeople we can increase our return on effort even more by determining what goes into our portfolio in the first place, but that’s a topic for another discussion.