It’s often claimed that there are fundamental differences between major- and minor-account selling.
Obviously, we’re not interested in the ‘selling’ here, so much as in the ‘sales process’. Here are some thoughts on this issue.
If a minor opportunity is one that you can win in a single appointment, then a major opportunity is just a string of minor opportunities. The first sells-up to the second, and so on, until the major opportunity is won; or not.
Accordingly, the primary challenge when dealing with a major opportunity is that
you must win *all* the ‘minor opportunities’ in order to record a win.
For this reason, the design and management of the opportunity management process
are as critical as the salesperson’s performance within appointments.
This conflicts with standard practice; which is to delegate greater responsibility for major opportunities to salespeople. That’s a little like a developer concluding that, because a skyscraper is more complex than a beach shack, responsibility for project management should be handed to a carpenter!
We recommend the following approach to major opportunities:
- Separate project management from the conduct of tasks. In the context of the
sales process, ‘project management’ is referred to as ‘opportunity management’;
and this is the responsibility of the sales coordinator.
- Formalise the opportunity-management process. Reduce the process to a series
of discreet activities, separated by milestones. Each milestone becomes the
objective for the preceding activity. One of the objectives, early in the
process, should be to get the client’s agreement with the opportunity-management
- Simplify the process. I’ve seen opportunity-management process diagrams that
look like two dimensional bowls of spaghetti. If the process is complex,
engineer the complexity out of it *before* you attempt to manage it; otherwise
you’re destined to fail. The easiest way to engineer-out the complexity is to
sell the prospective client a Feasibility Study (or similar). The significance
of a Feasibility Study is that your prospective client is commissioning you to
make their decision for them. Interestingly, clients tend to find this an
attractive proposition if they lack the expertise or the resources to make an
rational decision (which is often the case in major-account selling situations).