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Qualifying Your Opportunity

As a seasoned sales manager, it has been fascinating watching the media coverage of Amazon as it searches for its second city. Finally, a relatable case study that non-salespeople can understand what we really do! I have been following each step of the sales cycle as many cities have been vying for this big deal. There are so many steps including the discovery process, delivery of proposals, site inspections, elimination of competitors, and the final few cities still standing. Then, the waiting game.

Sales is not cut and dry. It is not just lunches, cocktails, and afternoons on the golf course. It really does take time, effort, money, research, creativity, and thoughtfulness for a sale to happen. However, it also takes one very important element which is often overlooked, qualifying the business opportunity.

Salespeople often feel the need to bid on every piece of business that comes their way. They cast a wide net hoping for a few fish. They are afraid to ask questions that will save them time and ensure they are the right fit. They make promises with the best intentions of figuring it out if the sale happens. 

No worries, we are caterers, we can figure out anything. By ignoring the qualifying stage, salespeople are wasting their own as well as other team member’s time. This is a true opportunity cost that could be spent on business elsewhere that is truly tangible, attainable and profitable.

Time wasted is money wasted.

The most impressive news piece regarding the Amazon search was in the Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2018, titled “Hi. It’s Amazon Calling. Here’s What We Don’t Like in Your City.”

How great is that! 

Amazon is actually calling on some of the cities that have been eliminated to tell them why. And kudos to the cities that have actually asked for the feedback. Essentially, these city leaders should be learning from this process for a next time. Were they qualified to bid to be the second city? Did they read the RFP? Were they truly capable of fulfilling all Amazon defined? How much time, money and human resources did they put into the presentation? What can be learned for next time? What changes will they do when the next opportunity arrives? 

Chicago is still a contender in the Amazon bid for their “second city”. Two potential locations for their campus are within blocks of my office on Fulton Market. It will be interesting to see where this lands and if Chicago has what it takes to make this sale happen. For the amount of time, money and effort spent thus far, if we do not get it, I hope the city learns from the loss so they are ready to tackle the next RFP that comes our way.

Jennifer Perna

Jennifer Perna

Owner, Fulton Market Consulting, Chicago, IL
Jennifer Perna started Fulton Market Consulting in May 2017 after developing an event experience and sales management experience portfolio for over 25 years in the downtown Chicago catering and special events industry. Jennifer presently works with owners, managers and all team players at hospitality-related companies on increasing sales and creating business development strategies, streamlining processes for operations and event production and developing best practices for human resources and administrative management. This is especially imperative as we continue to manage a diverse and young talented pool of employees today. Jennifer brings a dynamic, approachable and relatable communication style to all levels and members...