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How to Win Big Sales Opportunities with Big Plays

Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Sellers that win big sales go over-and-above to win them. When the impact for you is potentially huge, you want to do everything possible to get the win. Anything less and you essentially serve up the win to your competition.

When you need to win and win big, you need a Big Play.

A Big Play is a bold, atypical action a seller can take to inspire buyer action, and set themselves apart from the competition. It's an approach to capture a sales opportunity that is:

  • Bold, enterprise-worthy, or otherwise "big"
  • Outside the norm
  • Involving a certain amount of risk
  • One the buyer would view as a big investment in partnership

A Big Play can be thought of as a "partner investment." This is because bold strategies tend to be perceived by the buyer as an investment in a long-term relationship.

Examples include:

  • Flying a buyer and their team to customer site to allow them to experience what it's like to work with you, and to see your offering in action
  • Offering a money-back guarantee for a pilot project to prove to the buyer your solution will work
  • Creating an executive retreat where you bring together company leaders to brainstorm ways they can take advantage of new key trends in their industry
  • Putting some or all of your fees contingent on achieving success milestones for the buyer
  • Partnering with a buyer in a new way to co-create value
  • Creating a surprise-and-delight moment in the sales process that makes the buyer say, "Wow, that must have taken a lot of effort. Nobody else did that for us."

Big plays can be practically anything that surprises and delights, pushes the relationship strength meter high, or leads the buyer to choose you.

A smart Big Play can be well worth the investment—whether that investment is in money, time, staff, development, or otherwise.

When to Use a Big Play

It's time to make a Big Play when you want to either create a major sales opportunity, or win one. Of their nature, you can only use them so often. They take real investment. If they don't, they're not Big Plays.

You need to make a case for why a Big Play is a good idea for a particular opportunity. Consider the following 7 criteria when deciding whether to make your move:

  1. Effort: How much effort will it take to execute the Big Play?
  2. Cost: How much investment will the Big Play require?
  3. Acceptance probability: Big ideas don't matter if the buyer won't play along. If you're thinking of inviting them to, say, an all-expenses paid conference in another state, you should be close to positive that the invitation will be received warmly.
  4. Timing: How long will it take to execute the Big Play?
  5. Payoff amount: What is the possible payoff in terms of revenue, margin, loyalty, or ROI?
  6. Payoff likelihood: What are the chances that if you execute the Big Play it will generate the desired result?
  7. Opportunity cost: What are the chances that other Big Plays at this or another account are more attractive than this one?

Big Plays should be employed when pursuit intensity is high, and the value of winning the sale is significant. If the opportunity meets these criteria, then a Big Play may be just what you need to put yourself and your company over the top to win the deal.

Read more: 4 Examples of Big Plays to Help You Win Major Sales and Grow Accounts 

Topics: Strategic Account Management