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6 Elements of a Sales Opportunity Plan

6 Elements of a Sales Opportunity Plan

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Sellers who win consistently plan to win from the start. They're methodical in their approach to opportunities. They carefully map their sales process to the buyer's, set goals for every meeting, and do an exceptional job of communicating value.

Moreover, top sellers build strategies to proactively drive sales opportunities. The sales opportunity plan we use at RAIN Group is made up of six core elements we’ve refined over years of use. In this article, I’ll share each of the six elements in detail.

In this video, Andy Springer shares an overview of the components of a buyer-centered sales opportunity planning approach.

What Is a Sales Opportunity Plan?

The idea behind sales opportunity planning is to accomplish four tasks: create and communicate maximum value for the buyer; leverage your resources; satisfy buying criteria; and edge out the competition. A thorough sales opportunity plan will accomplish these tasks by answering the following questions:

  • What are the key elements of the specific value case for why this particular buyer should buy from you?
  • What is your strategy to out-maneuver the competition?
  • Who are the various buyers on the buying team and how might their buying criteria differ from person to person?
  • What are the action steps first, next, and throughout the process?
  • How much effort should you devote to one opportunity versus another?

How Sales Opportunity Planning Contributes to Win Rate

The primary goal of sales opportunity planning is to improve the likelihood of winning the deal.

Successful plans are built and aligned around creating and communicating value for the buyer. Everyone claims their company is buyer-focused. But consider the following statistics from our Top-Performing Sales Organization study:

  • 35% of respondents didn't agree that their sales organization focuses on driving maximum value for the customer
  • 52% of respondents didn't agree that their sales process was customer-focused

It's tough to have a buyer-focused sales organization when the planning tools and prompts are all about the seller and their goals.

For example, many opportunity plans contain prompts for capturing the seller’s mission, sales objectives, and sales positioning. What about the buyer’s mission? A case for buyer value? Buyer objectives and possible solutions?

6 Elements of Value-Centered Sales Opportunity Plans

Writing your plan is like crafting a business plan. It’s iterative. Nonlinear. You move back-and-forth between sections. You edit, adjust, and refine your thinking based on research, meetings, and discussions.

It’s the same for opportunities large and small. You still cover the same elements, you just move more quickly through the process depending on deal size. Maybe you selectively work on areas that you believe are essential for a given opportunity.

As to what your plan should include, here are the six elements of an effective, value-centered sales opportunity plan.

Ask Yourself: What If I Dropped It on the Floor?

Let’s say you drop your completed sales opportunity plan on the floor of a buyer’s office and they stumbled across it. It’s our belief that the buyer should be more inclined to buy from you after reading it than if they hadn’t.

Done correctly, your sales opportunity plan will be all about them—their goals and needs, as well as how your offering creates value for them. They’ll see the thoughtfulness and thoroughness with which you’ve considered them as a buyer.

Too many sales opportunity plans show how a seller will achieve the seller’s goal by using tactics to “close a buyer” at “a high price, unless they push back,” and so on. It’s all seller-focused. Generic. When planning frameworks are too seller-focused, the behaviors and thinking becomes seller-focused, and that’s not good for creating strong relationships, driving maximum value, or winning.

To win sales opportunities, the focus should always be on the buyer.

Last Updated March 29, 2023

Topics: Sales Opportunity Management