Member Darren Starr Speaks: A Simple 1-2-3 Approach to Assess Your Sales Opportunities

The Challenge:

Business leaders know the importance of forecasting revenue and tracking their company’s sales pipeline as accurately as possible. But these projections can often be nebulous and complex, forcing CEOs to take their best guess at assessing the probability of closing business. But following a simple approach when assessing sales – listening for and recognizing clients’ experiences, maturity, needs and motivations – may result in a more likely sales outcome. Alliance member Darren Starr, CEO of StarrData, a top-rated Salesforce implementation and support services firm, shares his assessment of a strategy for success.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

For CEOs, particularly those who lead service provider organizations, it’s important to listen to the needs and motivations of your clients to solve their complex problems and create new possibilities. Asking questions can help to clarify and assess: what sales stage are they in, how mature of an organization are they, what problems are they trying to solve? Answers to these questions can help to identify first, second and third-time customers.

First-time customers recognize that they have some kind of need or problem, and naturally try to solve it themselves – often doing the work themselves – until they realize that they’re unable to succeed. They could spend a few days or several years going through this process, but they end up concluding that doing the work themselves ultimately won’t work, and they resolve to seek outside help. They then become a second-time client.

Second-time clients are willing to retain outside help, but their primary criteria in selecting the provider is cost, rather than qualifications, expertise, and experience. They may hire a low-cost resource, connection, or independent consult, only to discover a lack of specific knowledge or limited availability. They eventually come to the realization that to solve their problem, they must be willing to hire and pay for a professional firm to get the job done right. At this stage, they become a third-time client.

Third-time customers range from small companies to larger, mature organizations in a wide variety of industries. Identifying third-time customers involves listening to and asking the right questions to guide your sales conversation. Ultimately you seek to understand where your client is at, what past experiences they’ve had, what their needs are now, and if they have real motivation to hire you and use your products and services.

It may be human nature to try and solve problems on our own. And, certainly no one wants to spend more for the help they need in both our business and personal lives. This progression from first to second to third-time customers is clearly a logical one.

Sincerely listening to and reliably supporting your clients through this needs assessment progression goes a long way toward building solid relationships and trust with them. Using this 1-2-3 assessment can be an effective way to determine the probability of closing business, ultimately coming to the best outcome for all parties.