Recently I've found myself involved in a number of conversations regarding opportunities and opportunity management — What they are, how to find them, and how do you manage opportunities to reality. If you are in Sales and Marketing you're most likely aware of the real science behind lead generation and opportunity management: an area of business interest is defined, activities to build customer connection and customer interest are created, and finally a process to realize that interest (or lead) in the form of a sale.
Classically depicted as a funnel to illustrate the progression of leads through opportunities to a final win or a loss, this process can range from something relatively simple to extremely elaborate; more often than not it also becomes an important metric to indicate marketing and sales activity, as well as a component of the forecasting activity. It is a core consideration for anyone in the commercial function, and particularly if you are responsible for a revenue target.
The Sales and Marketing opportunity funnel is a nice illustration of something very fundamental when considering opportunities of any nature... opportunities are not the result of wishing or dreaming but a result of doing — There is nothing passive about an opportunity. Only action will find an opportunity and only action will make it real. This is why I like the illustration of the opportunity funnel because it's a tangible reminder that nothing moves through the funnel unless there is action.
Behind the curtain of any opportunity is work (sometimes very hard work), and the rest is just process and administration... which I will say is a very nice check and balance to ensure you know what is working and what is not. I suppose there are those opportunities that come your way, but I suspect if you really look at it you will see it's the result of working really hard to put yourself in the way.
There is no short cut when it comes to making opportunities real.