Defining an Opportunity in Sales [The Sales Process Engineering Series]

Engineering an Effective Sales Process - Defining a Sales Opportunity

Once you have created clear definitions of what is a Lead, an MQL, and SQL, it is important to write down a consistent definition of a sales “Opportunity” so that your sales team and your marketing / DemandGen team can all understand this and work effectively to grow the Sales Pipeline based on this clear definition.


What is an Opportunity in Sales?

An Opportunity is “a deal in the making” – it only happens when you have qualified the original Lead and your Prospect (your main contact) well enough that you have enough leading indicators that there is an opportunity to work with this Prospect and Account and ultimately turn it into a won deal for your business. Thus this Opportunity enters a new sales cycle. What this means is that the Opportunity is a potential deal that you have a possibility to win after the full sales cycle. You still have work to do but there is an opportunity here to make the sale. The opportunity is also the foundation and the beginning of what will ultimately be a won deal (or a closed-lost opportunity).

In an abbreviated form, an Opportunity is usually written as an “Opp” or sometimes you will see “Oppty” as you will see in various Excel spreadsheets made by VPs of Sales or roaming around Sales Operations.

Also, the first time an Opportunity is created in the Pipeline (in our Sales Funnel) is when it enters Stage 1. By design, this means it will only have about a 1/10 chance (10%) to be “closed-won” as a real Deal. And therefore, 9/10 will be lost. But it’s nevertheless still an opportunity to become a deal.

Now here is where it is important to have a very precise and a consistent set of criteria that determine whether an MQL or an SQL can be converted or created into an Opportunity.  This is the engineering phase of the Sales Process and you need a consistent set of criteria to ensure a repeatable, predictable and then scalable revenue.


Defining a Clear and Formulaic Criteria for What Is an Opportunity

The criteria for when something can be an Opportunity for me has typically been PIF = Pain, Interest & Fit:

  • The Prospect has enough of a need and at least some interest and the right company/persona fit that it is now an Opportunity
  • PIF can be basic – just the Surface Pain or even Need, just some high-level interest, but a right Fit
  • Qualify and confirm that there is PIF (Pain-Interest-Fit) – P is just Pain-1 (Sandler calls it:”Surface Pain”), confirmed Interest to continue to work with us, and a Fit for both Account size & Buyer Persona.

Basically, you will now have a variation of this simplified funnel flow:

  • Suspect or Site Visitor > Lead > MQL > SQL > Opportunity


What else, what are some other thoughts on how you define an Opportunity?