Recognizing Opportunities

Recognizing Opportunities

By Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting LLC

Recognizing opportunities is a key entrepreneurial skill set that does not necessarily come naturally. In terms of thinking wavelength (Credit to Paterson Center, learn more about that tool here: you are playing on the right hand side of the scale, near a “finder” mentality. Finder’s “find” opportunities – sometimes to the detriment of opportunities previously recognized.

There’s an old sale’s adage around a glass that has been half filled with water. The optimist says the glass is half full, the pessimist says the glass is half empty. The sales professional states “let’s talk about the benefits of ice.” While slightly tongue-in-cheek, the statement reads true when you think about the majority of business situations. Some will see a situation and view it positively, some will view the same situation via a negative lens. Entrepreneurs usually will view a situation through the lens of opportunity and revenue generation.

What makes an opportunity?

Opportunity, as far as I’ve been able to classify it, consists of a problem that a person or organization has awareness of, as well as a desire to address or solve.

Lets break down those three parts further.

The Problem

First things first, you have to have a problem identified, scoped, and realized before you can have an opportunity. If there isn’t an item that needs to be “solved “ for, there isn’t going to be much need for your business to provide a solution, whatever the solution may be. Not all problems are emergencies, or even something that is currently happening at your customer or prospect’s environment. That being said, you do need to be able to define the problem to your customer clearly and concisely. You should make sure to have the below list thought through and readily accessible for when you have your sales discussion with your customer.

  • What is the problem in simple, easy to understand terms. Don’t use industry terminology or technical details your customer wouldn’t be familiar with when describing the problem.
  • How does the problem impact your customer? Think about their organization, staff, client base, as well as your point of contacts specific job role. How does this problem negatively impact those groups of people?
  • How does your customer make money, and does this problem get in the way of them doing that?


The next step in defining your opportunity is to ensure that your customer is aware of the problem and it’s impact on their organization. There are many schools of thought on how best to achieve this awareness. Over the past 17 years, I’ve found that there are a few methods that have served ,e particularly well, and one I try to avoid at all costs.

  • Education is key here. You’re not selling the problem, instead approach education as presenting of facts to your client.
  • Collect ways to recognize if the problem exists or could exit in your client’s environment. Create a list of impacted areas of your client’s business by the problem. Monetize the impacts ina fiscally conservative fashion.
  • Review your list of impacts with your client. Ask for feedback around them: your client knows their business better than you – use that knowledge to better scope impacts while reinforcing the scope of the problem.
  • Create content such as videos, newsletters, social media posts, and blogs to further create awareness to other clients, prospects, and partners.
  • Ask your client questions around their goals and find out if this problem could impact their ability to achieve them.


Once your client base has awareness of the issue and it’s capacity to interfere with their business, the desire to address the problem should be well on its way to being established. Your client should be asking you for solutions or ideas around how this problem can be solved. This curiosity is your opportunity.

Once you have desire established, all that remains is for you to be able to properly provide a path that will solve your customer’s problem while respecting their goals and budget. You should have this information from your discovery around the problem.

If you’re struggling to recognize opportunities or get your team onboard with the need to do so, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.

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