There is a difference between proactively creating new opportunities and reactively letting opportunities come to you. The first is more salesmanship, the second more order-taking. Both are important, and you want all of the opportunities available to you, but only one allows you to take your results into your own hands.
You proactively create opportunities by nurturing relationships, prospecting, and making a strong case for change. The nurturing gets you known, and proves that you are a value creator. The prospecting gains you an appointment to explore change, and to share ideas. The case for change is what compels action, in this case, and opportunity for your client to produce better outcomes and a deal for you.
This is the work salespeople do, even though we spend more time talking about opportunity capture, something that is only necessary because someone created the opportunity in the first place.
There are, however, other ways for you to acquire opportunities. You can wait passively for you dream clients to decide they need something, create an RFP, and invite you to participate, even if only as column fodder. You can also be the kind of customer-service focused person with a sales title that acquires new opportunities just by hanging around and waiting. These opportunities are no less valuable, and they may still have something to do with you being known, liked, and trusted, while also possessing the ability to create value.
The difference here is that proactive opportunity creation is intentional, and it allows for greater control of your overall results, while reactively waiting for opportunities is passive, leaving your results dependent upon the luck that never produces equal results to doing the work.
Selling is equal parts opportunity creation and opportunity capture. Because this is true, success in sales requires that you treat opportunity creation as if it is equal to winning deal. Over time, your ability to create opportunities will end up with you winning more than your fair share of those opportunities.
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Filed under: Sales Acumen