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What to Expect From Opportunity Management Software: How Sales and Workforce Learning Interact
Opportunity management is a major concern for any thriving business. If it’s not in your company terminology, it should be. Truthfully, it’s a concept every department should be talking about. Particularly because opportunity management software is a major element of the digital transformation – but we’ll talk about that further along. For now, let’s define opportunity management itself.
What Is Opportunity Management?
We can oppose opportunity management to risk management. Where risk management refers to the set of processes and technologies for managing negative results and threats to the business, opportunity management refers to the processes and technologies for securing positive results and managing their effects.
That’s not an exhaustive answer – this is a big topic. But it’ll do for the purposes of this article.
At the core of opportunity and risk management are some fairly important considerations for the philosophy of business – for instance, what balance of risk and reward is reasonable for a business to take on; what the difference between a risk and reward even is. Plus, it gets more complex – for instance, some people theorize that opportunities are just positive risk.
All of this is outside the purview of this article, which will discuss opportunity management software for the workforce, in particular the field workforce, and how it helps businesses optimize sales and learning.
Opportunity Management for a Post-COVID World
COVID might not be over, but we live in a world that has by and large accepted its reality. Part of this reality is the acceleration of the digital transformation. And it’s not a small part, either. McKinsey’s analysts write that according to their survey of executives, COVID encouraged companies to “[accelerate] the digitalization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three or four years.” Executives are said to understand “technology’s strategic importance as a critical component of the business.” If accelerated digitalization is the new reality, how does it affect the technologies, methodologies, and processes that drive and manage positive results for the business? (In other words, opportunity management.)
One factor we might consider here is the opportunity funnel (sometimes called a pipeline). The opportunity funnel might deal with any number of projects – technology adoption, brand reformatting, customer acquisition. For the sake of the subject matter of this article, let’s focus on customer acquisition. (In point of fact, opportunity management also refers to customer acquisition and sales enablement.)
An opportunity management funnel for customer acquisition will visualize and streamline, while making available for the whole team, the set of steps, processes, and decisions that should be taken quarterly to either acquire a particular customer or more customers in general. It’s a tried-and-tested, highly rational approach to documenting and planning steps for bringing in more clients.
For instance, Amazon’s AWS might have a standard funnel approach to acquiring new business – one which might look very different from a mid-sized organization. AWS’s funnel might be more focused on maximizing returns than on simply finding new business, in part because of the sheer size of their company. The opportunity funnel is going to be unique to each business’s scale, products, and goals.
In our post-COVID, digitalized world, it’s not only that previously arduous processes become more efficient and effective. This is often mentioned as a core benefit of technology, and while it’s true, it’s more of a pre-2020 way of viewing the subject matter. For instance, see this article in CIO from 2016. With faster and more complete digitalization of the business, opportunity management will not only be accessible in a digital format, opportunity management software. In fact, it will be connected with other elements of the business. It will become contiguous.
The forming of connections between business functions has become critical to digitalization. It truly enables the business to do more in a revolutionary – and evolutionary – way. But how? And how does that apply to opportunity management – how can opportunity management tools feed into other systems?
Opportunity Management – Connecting Workforce Learning and Sales
As we’ve mentioned, opportunity management helps drive positive results, then manages those results when they occur. If we were to use a sports metaphor, it would be like passing yourself the football and then making the touchdown; it’s a way of harnessing and managing those things you do particularly well. Traditionally understood, opportunity management software helps you perform that core function faster and more effectively.
What today’s truly modern digitalization allows you to do is more radical – you can break down all the silos and barriers between opportunity management and what’s commonly called learning and development (L&D). Traditionally, there are big borders between these business functions. Digital technology can help by creating contiguity between opportunity management and learning. Previously, your sales workforce might have taken weeks, if not longer, to get fully onboarded, trained, certified, etc., and then start on opportunity management actions.
Now, however, you can fully interweave your opportunity management and workforce learning technologies to make sure that the sales workforce is constantly learning about the best ways to move their funnels forward. Each learning and training activity can be tied to an opportunity management goal. The reverse is true too. Each opportunity management action, such as moving a prospect from the “First Outreach” to “First Call” stage, is followed by learning that helps reinforce best practices for a first call.
Like we’ve said, the point here is not merely digitalizing opportunity management/workforce sales enablement and workforce learning. It’s in creating vibrant, automated connections and contiguities between these business functions, which previously were caught in “silos,” depressing results. Imagine a platform that can reflexively show a sales professional the right learning activity based on their present position in their opportunity management funnel. Such a platform would not merely show an abstract learning item to get someone trained and onboarded, but help automate their learning in order to maximize a specific, present opportunity. The platform would be able to interpret their opportunity management data, feed that into a workforce learning component, and automate the delivery of the most helpful learning content for the opportunity.
This is the very goal of opportunity management and opportunity management software – maximizing opportunities; optimizing for positive results. Exactly what the digital transformation lets you do, as we’ve been describing, is to enhance this core business function by providing the learning and development content most relevant to it. Anyone who’s been in business knows that training never ends – we are constantly learning and developing, particularly in large distributed workforces. Your digital platform should reflect this continuous learning, but not for its own sake – rather, to help secure specific opportunities and drive KPIs.
Conclusion: Digital Transformation Creates Contiguity
Some goals don’t change. They’ll always be at the center of business development: closing opportunities, making beneficial deals, hitting KPIs. However, you can use the new tools of the digital age to create connections between departments and business functions that once were siloed off.
When you digitalize, look to wield rich streams of data to make complicated workforce tasks far easier and even inform corporate decision-making. That’s how you should be thinking about the digital transformation – not merely efficiency and effectiveness, but enablement and contiguity.
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