Rating GPCT to Avoid Objections at the End of a Sales Process

If you are a Hubspot Partner and we are discussing an opportunity, you'll likely hear me ask 'what is the GPCT'?  When I ask that question, I am looking for something very specific:  

- The opportunity's GPCT rating - either 1, 2, or 3

- Your reasoning, including how you would describe each element G, P, C, T and (c)

Below I'll discuss why GPCT is so important, what is means, and how you should rate it.  

Why Determine GPCT?

In sales, there is almost nothing worse than being at the end of a sales process, feeling like you are going to land an account, and then getting surprised with a serious objection. Maybe it's....

- Timing: "We are excited, but need to wait a couple months due to other projects"

- Budget: "This is great, but we are a little pinched on cash flow. Let's touch base next quarter"

- Silence: Simply nothing. A prospect is hard to find even though they promised to be in touch.

Do any of these sound familiar? I've been doing this long enough where I've unfortunately fallen victim to each one. It saps your energy to pour time and emotion into an opportunity, work it to the end, and then have this happen.

GPCT helps with this. It does not magically eliminate these objections, but it does help us uncover them early in the sales process. That way, we can work through them with the prospect or alternatively disqualify the opportunity before we have invested a ton of time. We won't overcome every objection, but we will stop chasing opportunities we should have known weren't great in favor of spending time pursuing good opportunities (there are plenty of them out there.)   

What is GPCT?

GPCT stands for goals, plans, challenges, and timing. In short, think of GPCT as the gap between where a business is at and where they are trying to go.

We also want to add an extra (c) for consequences. If GPCT measures the gap between where a business is at and where it is trying to go, consequences represent how meaningful it is for the business to hit that goal.

Goals:

Goals are the prospect's business objectives. Do not confuse goals with tactical objectives (i.e. plans). For instance, "we need to get better search rankings" or "we need a better looking website" are NOT business goals. They are tactics. Think of business goals as something that would be meaningful to an investor in the business; things like revenue growth, profitability, or other business growth measures.

Plans:

Plans are how the business intends to reach its goals. In some case the business may not have plans. In other cases, there may be a decent plan but with holes in it. Whatever the case, we want visibility to those plans and how confident the prospect is in their success. If we've done a good job learning business goals, it is easy to test a prospect's confidence. For instance, "I know you want to increase sales 20% next year and you plan to use SEO to get there. Will that alone work? How confident are you?"

Challenges:

Challenges are the expected obstacles on the way to the prospect's goals. In most cases, prospects share these easily and bring them up early and often. While this is to be encouraged, many agencies make the mistake of presenting solutions immediately upon hearing challenges. Don't do this. Find out the prospect's goals, plan, and timing first otherwise we put ourselves at a severe disadvantage in the sales process.

Timing:

Timing is the time-frame by which the prospect's goals need to be accomplished and additionally by which the prospect's buying decision needs to be made. This is the trickiest measure of GPCT. Most prospects will have timing, but either it is non-specific or long term. This hardly helps drive a current buying decision. It is up to us to break long term time-frames into smaller checkpoints, which can reveal short term urgency even if it wasn't initially apparent. 

(c)onsequences

If GPCT describes where a business is trying to go, an additional (c) for consequences reflects just how meaningful it is for the prospect to get there. Consequences are what happens to a business if it doesn't meet its goals within its time-frame. Implications, the cousin of consequences, are the positive things that happen when it does accomplish them. Without meaningful consequences and implications attached to goals, a sales process is likely to fall apart.

GPCT Diagram

Rating GPCT

We'll get to the rating scale in a moment, but first a couple of key points to review:

- Understanding a prospect's GPCT will help us gain visibility and confidence into the opportunity - and prioritize it appropriately. 

- Just because a a prospect has a low GPCT, we don't necessarily dismiss it. We do want to manage our investment of time however.

- Early in the sales process, GPCT may be low given that there is limited information. This should guide us to probe for more information to raise the score or alternatively to confirm the low rating.

Rating GPCT

GPCT Rating 0 - The prospect has no goals other than staying the course. Things are going great according to the prospect.

GPCT Rating 1 - The prospect has goals, but they are not very specific. Goals may be focused on tactics as opposed to business objectives such as revenue growth, profitability, or other growth measures. Timeframes may be given, but they are frequently non-specific or non-actionable (i.e. "I need more website traffic yesterday"). Because goals and timing aren't specific, the plan is not specific either.

GPCT Rating 2 - The prospect has shared specific goals focused on business objectives such as revenue, profits, or other growth measures. The prospect has shared a specific time-frame for meeting these goals. The prospect has shared their current plan or lack thereof, including other alternatives they are considering, and their confidence in hitting their goals. The prospect has shared what challenges they expect to face.

GPCT Rating 3 - In addition to the criteria in Rating 2, the prospect has shared what are the implications for making the goal and what are the consequences of missing it. These implications and consequences are meaningful to the business and also to the decision maker personally.

Note that these measures do not account for the budget or the decision-making authority of the prospect, two very important measures in qualifying a prospect. Budget and authority are measures found in BANT score, a supplemental measure to GPCT. Look for a future post on GPCT and BANT.

GPCT Ratings in Action

Here are some examples of what a prospect might sound like based on if they fall into GPCT Rating 1, 2, or 3.

Rating 1 - "I need more leads. My website is not helping me drive enough and I need help."

Rating 2 - "I need to grow revenue 25% by year end 2013. If I can increase website traffic and leads by 25%, that will help. I know prospects are out there, however, pay per click returns have plateaued and SEO is not working like it used to. I'm speaking with you, a PR firm, and my neighbor's social media firm. I'm not really confident social media alone is the way to go."

Rating 3 - Similar to the example of Rating 2 but additionally with implications and consequences. For instance, "if we can grow 25% in 2013, I'm in line to triple my investment, which was my goal when buying this business. If we can't, our valuation would go down significantly, and I'll have to put off retirement another few years. I'd like to retire so I can spend more time with my family. It is mine and my wife's number one priority. "

Summary

Using GPCT will help us work through objections before they happen, spend our time chasing the best opportunities instead of ones unlikely to buy, and give us more confidence and visiblity around our sales process. 

For more information on GPCT including a sales call role play where gathering GPCT is a highlight, check out the Hubspot Partner Advanced Sales Training webinar - The Inbound Marketing Assessment

So.....what is the GPCT of your opportunity?

 

 

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