Four critical steps to manage large order sales

Four critical steps to manage large order sales

Four critical steps to manage large order sales  

Stuart’s audience of front line sales reps was stunned. “ When airconditioning hospitals, cooling is the least of worries” Stuart told them, introducing them to new sales initiatives planned at Aurora for the current year. Into his fifth year of heading sales for Aurora Tech, Stuart was proud of the momentum his sales force had achieved. Now it was time to change gears  

Aurora Tech is a global leader in the manufacturing of air conditioning systems for commercial and residential use. Aurora has built a strong reputation for its range of energy efficient, all-weather and high performance products such as split, cassette, floor standing, ducted and root tops. Included in its specialization are chillers and air purifiers. Having recently sold ac systems to a few large size commercial projects involving medical centers and multiplexes, Aurora now aspires to transit from simple product selling to large complex deals, covering implementation of air conditioning solutions for health care and commercial spaces

Stuart’s sales managers are excited about managing large opportunities. Stuart prefers to be cautious. “Let’s test the water with our feet guys” he tells them “This isn’t going to be easy as it seems. Our folks will have to be re-tooled in terms of processes and skills”

Would you agree?

Challenges of managing large opportunities

Transitioning a sales team from selling standalone products to large complex solutions is fraught with challenges. Managing large opportunities is very different from traditional selling:

  • The need definition may not be sharp and simple as in traditional selling. Quite often, it is up to the sales team to uncover all the dimensions of Customer need
  • Outlay of time and resources is larger and sales cycle is longer
  • Sales process in large complex deals, involves interfacing with numerous stakeholders of varied backgrounds
  • Large opportunities require cross functional team selling where sales will have to work with other functions in developing and pitching a solution

Four critical steps

Here are the four critical steps in managing large opportunities:

  1. Assess the opportunity

Since large opportunities take up significant amounts of time, effort and resources, there should be a structured Go/No Go process to evaluate upfront whether the opportunity is worth picking up. Three important criteria to be assessed are:

  • Is the opportunity realistic enough to work on?
  • Attractive enough to pursue?
  • Winnable enough to invest time and resources?


  1. Define the right solution strategy

You can arrive at the right solution strategy by checking your competitive strategy against the selling situation, which could be one of the six below:

  1. I don’t need your solution
  2. I need it but not now
  3. I need it and will buy, but most likely not from you
  4. I need it and will buy and you are among the vendor I am considering
  5. I need it and will buy and most likely from you
  6. I need it and will buy and only from you

Each of these situations requires a differentiated approach. It is this differential approach that salespersons are apt to miss in managing large opportunities

  1. Align with key players

Managing large opportunities in a complex sale environment, means dealing with multiple decision makers and influencers. Individuals involved in the purchase decisions have distinctive roles, different decision making powers and varying attitudes towards the seller and the competition. So, the contact strategy in large and complex deals should align with the key players in the decision-making process in terms of whom to meet and whom to identify as opinion makers likely the sway the decision

  1. Address CXO concerns in presenting the solution

Large orders are usually of high strategic importance to the buyer organisation and most likely decided at the CXO level. Given that CXOs may be more concerned about the bottom line contribution from your solution than about the product feature details, the focus of the sales presentation should be on how your solution will help the buyer organisation get more business or do business quicker or lower costs. The presentation should be around the CXO’s business drivers, goals and vision and how our solution could help in achieving these objectives

  1. Develop a large opportunities management questionnaire

Ideally organisations managing large opportunities and those aspiring to move into that league should develop a questionnaire that represent the pressing needs of that line of business. Questions can include things like:

  • How do you evaluate the probability of winning this business?
  • How are your sales presentations different for different selling situations?
  • Do you look at the ‘winnability’ of an opportunity before committing resources to it? Do you have robust criteria to base this decision on?

This questionnaire will be unique to each organisation. A model questionnaire is available in Mercuri International Insights document “Are you managing large opportunities well enough?”[1]

Do you now empathize with Stuart’s concerns about Aurora’s sales force?