Winning complex new business requires a disciplined strategy. By using a systematic approach, business developers can increase the flow of opportunities and identify which specific actions will close the deal.

Long-term high-level performance in business development is not just about posting the easy wins. In complex situations, a disciplined, systematic approach is crucial to winning business, and to delivering ongoing success.

Easy wins are usually the result of silver bullets like a market-beating competitive advantage or a very strong personal relationship with a powerful buying influencer. Of course, these are great strengths to have on your side and our systematic approach strongly supports the practice of identifying and leveraging strengths.

However truly top sales performers know how to win even without these advantages and when nobody expects success. We have identified four key elements in our systematic approach to winning new business regardless of adverse conditions.

1. Develop a big picture

As you develop a strategy for moving an opportunity down the funnel, you need to have a big picture of your target’s current situation. The best option is to use a framework that displays all the key data in a single view. This data will include :

  • The key decision maker
  • The people involved in making the buying decision
  • The key components of your offer
  • How they view your proposal
  • Their interests in your opportunity
  • The current level of appetite for change
  • The names of your supporters and detractors
  • The names of your competitors for this opportunity
  • The names of those supporting your competitors

2. Identify your strengths

Once the big picture is developed, you need to uncover all of your strengths. These are the advantages you have in moving this opportunity forward. Some will be unique to you.

Many of your strengths may not be a market beating silver bullet individually, but collectively; and if used to their full advantage, they can make all the difference. Strengths can include :

  • A better solution
  • A price/cost advantage
  • Strong personal relationships
  • Unique aspects of your offer
  • Being the party that opened up the discussion
  • Strong corporate/market credibility
  • Strong personal credibility
  • A deep understanding of the buying influence’s motivations

3. Identify your risks

Risks to winning new business come in many forms. In the same way that a big picture facilitates uncovering of strengths, it also helps you identify your risks.

Whilst we may be happy to highlight our strengths, we are not so naturally motivated to be as explicit about our risks. Nevertheless, this is a critical step in the systematic process. Risks can include any of the following:

  • A decision maker that has not been contacted by you or your team
  • A decision maker who is known to:

– Not support your proposal
– Doesn’t want to change from the status quo
– Supports a competitor’s proposal

  • Uncertainty of the motivations of any of the decision makers
  • A lack of alignment amongst the decision makers
  • A strong competitor
  • Being invited into a bidding/tendering process late in the process
  • Poor past performance
  • Barriers to the deal within your organisation
  • Stakeholders external to your client and your organisation who will have influence and whose attitudes and/or decision makers are unknown

4. Capitalise on your strengths and minimise/remove your risks

At this point in the systematic approach, you can now plan to use your strengths to their best advantage. The weakness of the silver bullet approach is that the developer tends to overlook strengths that are not singularly strong enough to win the deal. So the search for the silver bullet continues and lesser strengths that could otherwise be deployed are left on the table. Our systematic approach says that having uncovered strength, it should be put to use.

Risks can suffer a similar fate. Your big picture overview is not intended as a repository of information. It exists to facilitate the identification of risks so that you can take steps to minimise or remove them.

As the opportunity moves down your funnel, you expect to see a lessening of risks and the use of and in many cases the creation of new strengths. Inevitably, your probability of winning improves.

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Eddie Smith is the Founder of Sales Schematics Australia, and an accredited Funnel Coach. To read more of his insights, go to the SSA Technical – Sales Insights blog.