What Is Sales Opportunity Management? The Definitive Guide

Sales Opportunity
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The general idea of an opportunity refers to something that relies heavily on probability – a game of chance. With an opportunity, there is either the possibility of getting something or not getting it at all.

An opportunity presents itself differently for everyone. For you, an opportunity in your career or life could mean a slight chance of getting that job promotion or securing a fully-funded scholarship for your school programs.

However, for a salesperson, every potential of a prospective customer to become a paying customer is an opportunity for them.

A sales opportunity is the possibility of a contact or an individual to pay for a product or service. It is the stage in the sales pipeline where sales qualified leads transition to pay customers.

Considering that in sales, no deal is a done deal unless payment has been made, it becomes necessary for sales reps to be able to identify and nurture sales opportunities that are more likely to pay for the product or service.

Hence, in this article, we will be providing you with all the necessary information about sales opportunity management. Keep Reading!

Table of Content.

  • What is a sales opportunity?
  • Sales lead vs. Sales Opportunity.
  • What is sales opportunity management?
  • Importance of sales opportunity management?
  • Characteristics of sales opportunities.
  • The stages of a sales opportunity.
  • Five best practices to manage sales opportunities.
  • CRM opportunity management.

What is a sales opportunity?

 sales opportunity stages

A sales opportunity according to HubSpot is a qualified prospect who has a high probability of becoming a paying customer. An opportunity is a qualified lead that a sales rep has spoken to, presented the various product or service packages to, and is just at the point of initiating sales.

A sales opportunity is the last stage in the sales process – these qualified leads are at the bottom of a sales funnel and just a payment away from becoming customers.

To identify sales opportunities, experts recommend that sales reps must ensure that the prospect is a good fit for the product or service they are selling and has a pain point that the product or service can solve.

With the possibility of a prospect backing out of the sales process, it can be challenging for a sales team to identify sales opportunities from leads earlier in the sales funnel, as a result, we have listed some criteria to help you identify a promising lead from the others 

  1. A potential customer that you have already met or contacted.
  2. You have identified a pain point.
  3. They are interested in finding a solution to the pain points.
  4. You have confirmed a technical fit

Once the lead or prospect meets these criteria, you can move them down the sales funnel as an opportunity.

Sales lead vs. Sales Opportunity

opportunity management in sales

A sales lead is any person who may or may not be a potential customer while a sales opportunity is a qualified lead that a sales rep has contacted and will more likely make become paying customer.

A lead is a sales prospect that has indicated an interest in your product or service but has not been qualified by the marketing and sales teams.

These individuals are at the top of the sales funnel. For example, a person that downloads your content or visits your website for the first time is a lead – who has shown an interest in you.

While an opportunity is a qualified lead that is at the bottom of the funnel and just a step away from becoming a customer.

An opportunity is someone that has been qualified by the sales team and has had a discussion with a sales rep on what product or service package they would be getting. All that is left is for them to make payments to become a customer.

It is important to understand that a sales lead is only a prospect that needs to meet the company’s sales criteria to become a sales qualified lead whereas a sales opportunity is already qualified and confirmed ready to make payment.

What is sales opportunity management?

4 sales opportunity management

Sales opportunity management is the process of monitoring and managing sales opportunities as they move down the sales pipeline. It refers to the steps and strategies a sales team develops to nurture and manage sales opportunities till they become customers.

Judging by how easy it is to lose leads or abandon a promising lead, it has become essential for sales managers to initiate a process to help them follow up with sales opportunities and close deals.

With the general sales rule that no one is a customer until they make payment, sales teams have to make the extra effort to identify and manage prospective customers that can become opportunities.

As a result, opportunity management is a comprehensive strategy that creates a roadmap to optimize the sales process and improve the performance and productivity of sales teams.

By managing sales opportunities, sales reps can increase their chances of getting higher conversions, closing more sales, and generating more profit.

Sales teams use customer relationship management (CRM) software to prioritize high-value prospects and maintain long-lasting relationships with their clients.

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Importance of sales opportunity management?

With the possibility of sales reps missing out on promising leads, sales opportunity management is crucial for sales teams to monitor and manage the high-value prospects that are more likely to become paying customers.

The following are some of the benefits of sales opportunities management;

1. Monitor sales leads to progress in the funnel

 sales qualified opportunity

Opportunity management is crucial for sales teams to track the progress of their lead as they move down the sales funnel.

As explained before, a sales lead has only indicated an interest in your product, and you can be sure at that early stage whether they will become customers or not.

By managing your opportunities, you can monitor the leads and develop an effective strategy to improve their conversion.

1. Gain better control of your sales pipeline

Opportunity management gives sales reps better control of the activities and progress in their sales pipeline.

When you can monitor your lead and develop effective strategies to move them down the funnel, you can control the content that would convert them and plan how everything goes in the pipeline.

2. Build stronger relationships with your prospects

Sales reps need to build relationships with their customers to close more deals.

In sales, getting prospects to buy from you requires much more than pitching the products or services to them, the bulk of the work lies in your ability to build strong relationships with your clients.

Sales opportunity management helps you monitor and understand the stage a lead is at and the kind of relationship you should have with them at every stage of the sales process till they eventually become customers.

3. Make better sales-driven decisions

By managing opportunities, your sales teams can build a strong sales process that considers your customers’ expectations, pain points, and long-term objectives and helps you develop strategies on how your sales messages and efforts can speak to these needs.

When you have insights into how your products or services can solve a lead’s problem, you can determine the probability of them becoming a customer and decide on the best ways you can convert them to customers quickly.

4. Identify and solve possible roadblocks

By managing opportunities, you can get a better understanding of what goes on with your lead and identify any possible challenges you can face with them.

Once you identify the challenges, you can develop the right strategies to handle them accordingly.

Characteristics of sales opportunities

 qualifying a sales opportunity

Sales opportunities are the slight chances or probability of your potential customers becoming paying customers.

Since some of the interest indicated by leads and qualified leads are closely related, it can be hard to identify a sales opportunity when they are still at the top of the funnel.

As a result, we have identified key characteristics you look out for when planning to move your sales prospects or leads to opportunities;

Their pain points

At this point, you should know that understanding and solving a customer’s pain points is crucial to influencing a customer to buy from you and make them return for more.

The only reason why a customer needs a product or service is for that product/service to help them solve their needs. So if there’s no problem, there’s no need to buy anything.

To identify sales prospects or leads that are more likely to become opportunities, sales reps have to identify their pain points – problems, challenges, or desires to find out how their products or services are relevant to solving the pain points.

For example, a lead who visits your website blog to read about sales articles might need to improve their sales efforts and this can be the best opportunity for you to introduce your sales tools.

To identify an opportunity from leads, identify their pain points and identify how your products and services can solve the points.

Their Interests

What content or part of your product or services are your leads more interested in? How serious are they about to spend on their interests? And how do your products or services fit into their interest?

The above are the questions you should ask when identifying your lead’s interests to determine how you can position your products or services to engage them and influence them to pay for them.

Their Fit

Aside from identifying your prospect’s pain points and interests, it is also important that you consider how they fit into your sales criteria.

Look into questions like, “Are they financially capable to buy the product or services?” “Are they the key decision-makers or team members? And “how best does your product fit into their expectations?” The above questions will help determine their eligibility and capabilities to buy your products or services.

By considering the above characteristics in your lead conversion process, you can better identify leads that will more likely become paying customers than others.

The stages of a sales opportunity

 sales opportunity definition

There are five stages that a sales rep must follow to identify and convert a sales opportunity into a customer. They are;

Stage 1: Research

The research phase is the first step to any sales opportunity. At this stage, you should only focus on learning as much as you can about the opportunity to decide your next steps.

In the research, you should concern yourself with quality information about your leads.

Stage 2: Lead Qualification

This second phase involves putting all the information gotten to good use. Your main concern at this stage should be to identify the leads that best fit your sales criteria and target them.

As we have emphasized in the previous section, you must be able to determine how your products or services best fit into the pain points, interests, and financial capabilities of your leads to sell to them.

Stage 3: Strategizing

After you have researched and qualified your leads as sales opportunities, the next stage is to develop effective sales strategies on the approach that you will use to convert an opportunity into a paying customer.

Strategy is the bedrock of every sales and marketing process. When you identify the customers you want to target, you need to plan how you will sell to the prospects to increase sales.

Stage 4: Execution

This fourth stage is where you get to business and put your strategy to work. It is not enough to have sales strategies in place, you must execute your sales plans step-by-step and document the process.

Stage 5: Review

This is the final stage of the sales opportunity process. Considering that your plan might fall through even with the structured plans that you have developed, it becomes necessary to review your sales process.

Review all the progress you made, and what you did and didn’t do right to guide your future sales activities. Find the finest guide, sales-qualified lead.

6 best practices to manage sales opportunities

 what is sales opportunity

Now that you know how to identify sales opportunities and the stages required to move a prospective customer from a lead to an opportunity, it is important that you also understand how to manage your opportunities in the pipeline.

The best practices to manage sales opportunities are;

1. Invest in research

If you have identified a lead as a potential opportunity, you need to determine their eligibility as a qualified opportunity in which you should invest your effort. 

To identify these, consider the following factors;

  • Responsiveness – how interested are they in solving their problem? And how easy is it to get through to them?
  • Budget – are they financially capable to buy your products or services?
  • Purchase process – How long does it take them to make payment? are they influenced by internal or external factors that can make or not make them pay?
  • Authority – are they key decision-makers or do they need approvals from their managers to decide?

Ensure that when you research your opportunities, you get detailed information about the above-listed factors to help you determine how to tailor your sales plans to cover these factors.

2. Focus on your most promising leads

Once you have all the important information about your sales opportunities, consider listing out the most promising of them to channel your sales messages to them.

When you identify some leads as strong opportunities that are more likely to become paying customers, it’s best practice to prioritize them and channel your sales messages to convert them.

Consider the following factors to identify the most promising leads;

  • Leads with the highest revenue deals.
  • Leads that are closest to making payments.
  • Leads that are key decision-makers and are highly interested in solving their problem.

3. Follow up regularly

The next important point to consider is to consistently follow up with your most promising leads. It’s not a new fact that your biggest chance to close a sales deal is by consistently following up on your leads.

If you leave your leads for too long, they could lose the drive to make payment for the products or buy from your competitors.

Develop a strategy on how you intend to move the discussion forward – at what point do you want to make calls, send emails or even book physical meetings.

4. Be organized and deliver at the right time

There is a reason why organization skill is a key skill required of every salesperson. To manage your sales opportunities and increase their conversion rate, create an organized process and ensure you send all deliverables on time.

Nothing ruins a sales deal more than keeping your leads waiting or forgetting to send them some of the important documents – an estimate or product guide when you promised to. It simply gives off the wrong impression and deters your chances of closing deals.

5. Optimize your sales opportunity management process

Evaluate your performance to identify lapses and strengths and determine what to improve or remove from your management process. 

Consider using CRM software to improve your performance and automate your tasks.

Ensure you review your sales process and opportunity management plans at regular intervals so you can track your progress over time. Check out some related guides, B2B sales, SaaS sales and tech sales.

CRM opportunity management

Do you need CRM software to manage your sales opportunities?

Your answer to this should depend on how best your opportunity management process is and how best you plan to meet your sales target.

CRM tools or software help organize and manage all your business processes and data on a single platform. Using CRM to manage your sales opportunities can help you drive successful conversions and streamline your sales, marketing, and customer support activities.

Essentially, you can boost customer satisfaction and retention with CRM tools.

Which CRM should you consider?

Sloovi Outreach

 what is a sales opportunity

Sloovi Outreach is an all-in-one CRM platform that enables your sales teams to smash sales targets, reduce costs, and improve sales productivity by tracking your daily sales workflow, creating customized and intuitive reports, scheduling more meetings, and prioritizing leads with dynamic Smart Views.

Outreach offers four services;

  1. Lead generation: this feature allows you to add thousands of sales leads and prioritize and track every integration with a sales lead.
  2. Cold Outreach automation: this feature will enable you to send personalized, scalable, and automated sales outreach via emails, global calls, and SMS.
  3. Report Creation: this feature provides sales leaders with all the insights about the activities of their sales reps
  4. Manage Pipelines: this feature tracks all the deals you are about to crack as they travel through each sales stage.