Winnability Scoring #1

Posted by | January 08, 2009 | opportunity scoring | No Comments

This post is the 2nd in a series of 5 posts highlighting best practice tools to measure winnable opportunities.  Here we had a low average selling price and were using

Many salesforces equate how far along they are in a deal with the probability of winning that deal.  So, the qualification stage might be a 10% probability of winning and the contract negotiation stage might show an 80% probability of winning.

There is logic to this approach but it is one-dimensional.  You may be at an early stage with a prospect who has bought from you at their previous company and have a high likelihood of winning or be at a later stage in 3rd place with a very low probability of winning. 

Stage completion probabilities also suffer a timing problem when used for pipelines and forecasts– what happens when you have completed most of the opportunity stages – say you’re 80% complete  -- and although you are confident you will win, there is a good chance the deal will roll into next period?

Do you sandbag by changing the close date to next period and try to bring in the big surprise this period?  Do you leave it in this period but detach the stage probability from the stage itself and use it to show the probability of winning this period vs. winning at all?  If you take this approach, how do you track general winnability?

In a perfect world, you’d want to measure multiple dimensions of winnability, like how far you are in the cycle, how likely the prospect is to buy anything and how likely they are to buy from you.

In emerging markets where the competition is small and fragmented and doesn’t show up regularly in every deal, tracking how good the fit is and how likely the prospect is to buy anything can be a good proxy for how likely you are to win. 

This scoring tool example is an example of scoring both fit and how likely a prospect is to buy anything.  This was done in and, like the first example, has 10 questions.  These are carried both at the lead and (shown here) opportunity levels. 

There are some ‘table stakes’ questions that didn’t score any points but are critical to a good fit that could be answered after an early qualification call – like ‘do they primarily sell with a direct sales model?’ and ‘is new account business important to their sales effort.’

Other questions like ‘is there a compelling event?’ or ‘have we spoke with the line VP?’ typically took more time to understand and execute.  An example of a proxy for ‘will the prospect buy anything’ was ‘how long have they had’  We found that companies that had longer were more likely to be aware of its shortcomings and so further appreciate our product.

While the table stakes questions were not scored, the others were.  Six were equal to 10% and the main correlator was worth 30% so there were 90% winnability points possible.  The reason we used percentages and a total of 90% points here was so we would could look at this number in conjunction with the opportunity stage completion percentage and easily compare them.

This scoring approach is valuable for multiple reasons.  It quickly flags differences between the winnability and opportunity stage completion numbers.  If you are at an 80% opportunity completion stage and you show only a 20% chance of winning, it is worth a conversation with the rep about fit and tactics.

Secondly, this winnability dimension helps handle the pipeline / forecast timing issue outlined above.   It lets you detach the stage completion probability from the stage itself and tie it to the period you are in without losing the longer view of how winnable the opportunity really is.

(Index of the 5 posts on opportunity scoring)

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