Opportunities cost money. That’s a fact that we all have to live with.
- They cost money to define, in that you the client will have spent time discussing what your problem is and how it may be solved – the problem itself is likely to be costing you real money too.
- They cost money to respond to, in that it takes time to engage with a client and as a consultant prepare a response.
- They cost money to implement, time on site, cost of development, software, documentation, etc.
There is another way of looking at this. Opportunities are an investment. If you consider it this way, then opportunities become a positive engagement; as long as the return on that investment is clearly understood from the very beginning. Given the cost, you want to know that what you are paying for is going to give you the results you need and expect.
If the opportunity is not qualified correctly, the result could be that you don’t get what you thought you were going to get, because the consultant has not fully understood what it is that you needed.
Typical opportunity qualification is considered from the provider point of view. Is it worth our while? Will we make any money on this engagement? Are we inside the procurement process? The ORDER methodology concentrates on the qualification of the opportunity from the client point of view. What issues are you trying to solve? Has the problem been defined fully and if not, how do we go about doing that? How will we measure that we have been successful? What are the costs and the benefits, both tangible and intangible? Who or what is affected by the change and what must be done to minimise any negative impact on people, perceived or real? What has stopped this change from being implemented in the past and has anything changed so that this time, it will take place and be successful? It is accepted that if you make the client successful, you will be successful too.
Qualification is a process of dialogue; “dia” is flow and “logos” is meaning. Dialogue is the free flow of meaning. Qualification isn’t achieved because we think it is, it is only qualified because of what the client says, therefore you need to ensure the client has given you all relevant information pertaining to the opportunity.
We mustn’t guess. We mustn’t guess what problem is trying to be resolved. We mustn’t guess about the financial and intangible impact of the problem or the resolution of the problem. We mustn’t guess about the meaning of words and terminology. We mustn’t guess about resource availability or time constraints. We mustn’t guess about who will make the ultimate decision to go or no go.
The only way to avoid guessing, is to ensure that there is free flow of information from the client to the consultant. That is achieved through the fusion of IQB,EQ and XQ.
As we progress through this dialogue, issues will come up that need to be resolved. These are yellow lights and these either need to turn to green lights, i.e. the issue or question has been resolved, or to a red light, i.e. this is a show-stopper and we have mutually understood that this opportunity is not going to succeed for whatever reason.
Opportunity qualification can simply be thought of as turning all of the yellow lights green, or red.
The method for turning lights green or red is robust and transparent conversations based on the understanding that client and consultant both want to achieve the same thing. That is the assumption that you have to lead from in order to be able to qualify the opportunity and move on to understanding constraints around resources, which I will discuss in more detail in my next post.
In the meantime, if this has caught your interest, please get in touch as we would be happy to help you understand how Spatial.IQ can help you achieve ORDER.
The reference for this material is “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play”: Transforming the buyer/seller relationship by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig available from Amazon here.