Assess Your Nuclear Events

300 tons of contaminated water this week leaked from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Worried news coverage revealed it as reaching the third level on the seven-step classification.

The most severe rating has mercifully only occurred twice; Chernobyl 1986 & Fukushima’s tsunami-afflicted 2011. As for the above pictured progression itself;

Each increase on the scale is meant to represent a 10-fold increase in the severity of the leak, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which introduced the scale in 1990

Echoes of the old Richter scale for earthquakes in this respect.

The sales process junkie in me was also struck by this. There are a couple of significant traps this reminds me must be avoided in sales forecasting.

First, most sales campaign analysis has some measure to determine their progress. Yet these are predominantly percentage-based. With little reference to actual likelihoods. They tend to be ‘finger-in-the-air’, personal hunches of those closest to the deal.

They suffer from mixing up the length of time the deal’s been going from the solidity of the signature coming our way.

One example of this, is where you know you’re down to a last two. Last Prop faithfully delivered, Board presentation in the diary. Invariably I often see these as 90 percenters on forecasts. Yet even the most rudimentary of mathleticism might suggest it is commonly 50/50.

I chuckle at how salespeople polarise here. They’re either hugely optimistic, or they’re shyly cautious. It’s just all too random

Second, thinking of selling inside a formal procurement, far too many forecast escalations are based around activities from the sellers perspective. Enquiry, longlist, initial Prop, shortlist, final Prop, Board pres, negotiation. With the hopeful exception of the negotiation stage, these will apply to anyone bidding.

That kind of conveyor belt misses the point because the best process markers rotate around actions the buyer takes. Business case acceptance, budget authority, supplier qualification, post-sale activities agreed, senior exec commitment. One phrase I picked up I like is ‘gateways should be based upon things the buyer does‘, not necessarily what we want to happen.

I appreciate the square-peg-round-hole conundrum of trying to apply linear tags for crm demands to the patently non-linear workings of a buying brain.

Yet the farther you travel from those ‘traditional’ stages the better.

As a final thought, I also rail against parallel and shadow reporting springing up in a sales operation. How dare salespeople get encumbered with even more non-selling time thieves.

So whilst not an advocate of even more admin heaped upon sellers’ shoulders, there is a case for a similar scale as the nuke one for deal alerts.

As these are one-off events, perhaps a scale could be created in your world for ‘deal dampeners’. Have you a number of events that, when take place, hit your hopes hard? And do they have similar impact as happened over time?

For instance;

Reference issue

Chief Exec against

Budget re-allocation

Incumbent price slash

Vital contact disappears

Competitor product alteration

Prospect take-over/re-structure mooted

And in which case, then maybe you too can have such seven-steps that could be brought out in detailed bid review meetings.

At the apex, ‘7’ could be simply ‘showstopper’. And you slide down towards ‘1’, ‘on slight backfoot’. Just like for the nuclear option, the bottom three are slighter deal distractors, the top four serious deal jeopardisers.

And your emerged Deal Event scale could well be a winner.

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