If the problem you’re looking to solve isn’t in the top three for the prospect it simply won’t happen!

Traditional sales often look at timelines as a key element in deciding if an opportunity is real. It usually begins with the question “when would you like to have the solution implemented?“ and work backward. This doesn’t really help because unless the prospect has an urgency in terms of their activity, and a strong desire to push the project forward timelines can move.

Priority is a strong measure. Priority can come about for several reasons: legislated changes, a new person into a role, a change of focus of the business, the launch of new products et cetera et cetera. We typically call these compelling events. How strong the compelling event is driving the strength of the priority. Generally in business, these days were looking at providing solutions to bring about change so many companies will allow the current situation last longer unless it’s a priority for them to shift to a new solution.

Always ask therefore how high a priority as it is a strong indicator of the likelihood of business with anybody being concluded.


Amplifying Factors Business Consequences, Metrics, Pain/Need


Further reading :

The key to successful selling: Become a priority

Shifting Buyer Priorities: Understanding the B2B Landscape in 2021

The Priority Sale and the Future of B2B Selling

RED – Unknown or not in the top three

If something is genuinely not in the top three, it is unlikely to occur. If the client tells you that they don’t know the priority that is a major red flag as they are likely to know their top three priorities. Requalify around this point continuously until you’re sure that it is a priority, or that you can make it a priority.

AMBER – Top three

While we strive to always be in the top three there could only be time to deal with priorities one and two so be cautious if you are anywhere below top priority.

Green – Top Priority

This is a great place to be, but be alert to signs the priorities may change. Today’s top priority may slip if something occurs in the business, so watch for indicators that the project has slipped from top priority.

Mitigations – What to Do?

Be upfront and ask early on how much of a priority this is for the prospect. Most people will share with you an answer that will indicate to you where it sits on their priority list.

With anything below top priority, you need to discuss the detail to understand the strength of its position on their priority list. Ask the prospect to share with you anything that might change its position on the priority list and make sure you incorporate this positioning into any communication.

If you believe there is a strong need it’s important to get the business consequences and metrics to back up your proposal and use that to prompt the prospect to reconsider its position on the priority list (ie to see if there is an appetite to push it up the priority list).

Priorities change. People changing companies, new events occur in the company or the competitive environment, so something not deemed high priority today becomes a high priority tomorrow. Also, the converse can happen as well. So be alert to industry news, et cetera that may affect the priority of a project.

As always, this emphasizes why velocity is so important in modern selling to take the deal off the table quickly before it loses focus (Priority) in the business.

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