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SOPAC Solution Selling Methodology


"As VP of Sales, I want Greater Visibility of my team's Opportunities"


"Our Forecast was way off the mark, we need to be More Accurate"

James is the VP of Sales EMEA, with an electronic component manufacturing company. Based in Hamburg, Germany, he is responsible for a team of 17 people including 5 Account Managers with responsibility for Business Development.

A typical sale for James’ team would be a multi-million Euro deal delivered over a number of years, as such, deals are few but lucrative. In line with that, opportunities are also few, so the tasks of Business Development; Solution Selling; and Account Management, need to be conducted with great care and attention to detail so that hard-found opportunities are not lost.

In recent times, James was hit hard with lost opportunities that they were expecting to close, so his forecast was way off the mark. To compound these loses, they came at a time when existing contracts were due to expire, and worse still, the pipeline of opportunities was very weak. As a result, James was approaching a very lean period, he would recover, but he also needed to do something to prevent this from happening again.

It took some time and digging for James to realise what went wrong with his opportunities. He realised that the issues were fundamental to selling and not the technical issues his Account Managers were reporting. In one instance there was a lack of rapport between his Account Manager and the buyer, so much so that the buyer could not be contacted to receive a call from James. Another opportunity was lost because the urgency of the requirement was not understood by the Account Manager and lead time became an issue, this could have been avoided if the urgency was detected at an earlier stage.

The bottom line is that James did not have the visibility he needed throughout the sales process for him to act earlier to rectify what was going wrong.

As with most organisations in his industry, James uses a run-of-the-mill CRM system with his sales process mapped out in stages, with a sales probability factor linked to the completion of each stage. So, when an Account Manager reports an opportunity at 70% (Presentation delivered successfully), it is assumed that everything that went before this stage is completed successfully.

But this is not always the case, Solution Selling is not as sequential as CRM providers would have us believe. Prospects have their own way of communicating information to the vendor and not always as expected. Critical information or engagements can be withheld from the seller, but the sales process can be allowed to continue. Salespeople are delighted to continue because it advances the sales process and the associated probability. However, if this information or these engagements are not addressed, they could have a devastating impact on the outcome of the sale.

To overcome this problem, James implemented Proactive Pipeline’s SOPAC Methodology. Unlike his existing sequential process, SOPAC is based on a set of guiding principles which need to be addressed throughout the sales cycle, but not necessarily in sequence. Salespeople follow a structured process as usual, but they measure the probability of an opportunity by how successful they are in achieving critical criteria (including Rapport and Urgency).

To support this methodology, SOAPC has its own Opportunity Management tool that comes in the form of a CRM Add-on (optional), currently available for SuperOffice and in development for Salesforce.com. With SOPAC, when a salesperson reports an opportunity at 70%, the question is, what criteria make up the missing 30%? Because this is where the sales efforts will be focused.

James now “SOPACs” his opportunities with his Account Managers, leaving nothing to chance and avoiding unwelcome surprises. He feels in control of his team’s pipeline and that allows him forecast to his management with confidence.

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