You’ve analyzed your best customers’ characteristics and attributes and used them to build a Zebra profile. Next, you used a simplified profile to build your pushbutton Zebra. This will help you create shorter sales cycles.

Now you are ready to calculate a prospect’s “Z-score,” the number that tells you how far away from a sale you are and what you can do to improve your chances of success. 

How To Find the Z-Score

Your pushbutton Zebra provides a streamlined description for each of the seven key characteristics of your prospect company. And for each characteristic, you grade your prospect from 0 to 4, where four is a perfect score. Add the seven characteristic scores to reach a Z-score that tells you whether this prospect is ready to buy.

If you don’t have enough information on a characteristic, then enter zero. Your PBZ is a living document. And you can update the scores as circumstances change. Your goal is to get the prospect into the range that indicates the prospect is willing and able to close the deal.

Let’s look at an example of a fictional organization calculating the Z-score for one of its prospects.

C3 Calculates the Z-score for Transformers

Kurt is a sales manager for C3. He and his team have gone through the Zebra process, defined the characteristics of their ideal customer, and derived a pushbutton zebra. And now he’s ready to go through the scoring process for a new prospect. 

In this scenario, C3 buyers tend to be early to late majority, perhaps even laggards in the production-adoption lifecycle.

Company or Organization Profile

Kurt’s PBZ says to score this characteristic at zero if the prospect is extremely price-conscious, meaning a poor fit. Transformers is the opposite of that, earning a four because they:

  • Are more focused on the solution’s value
  • Have a reputation for producing a quality product
  • Want to purchase a quality solution

Transformers has bought other solutions in the past that C3’s solution addresses. It’s their third time buying a faster and better solution for the same pain points.


Transformer Company Score: 4


C3 determined that companies who cherry-pick various C3 solutions instead of purchasing them in their entirety are not usually desirable prospects. Then they earn a score of zero or one. 

The ideal company recognizes the value of C3’s customer-engineered solution and knows the solution to be the best way to address a problem.

Transformers knows C3 understands their complex supply chain needs and values C3 solutions. The company scores a three because Transformers is aware it has complex requirements and an out-of-the-box product won’t work. 

Also, Kurt knows Transformers appreciates C3’s differentiator of engineering-to-order, ensuring they receive the right solution for the material-handling side of their supply chain.

Transformer Operations Score: 3

Access to Power

Access to Power might be the most critical characteristic of a PBZ. And a low score here pretty much rules out a prospect as a Zebra, even if it scores higher on other attributes. This can slow the sales cycle for this prospect.

If the prospect has a low score here, you need more data and one or more action steps to determine if it’s possible to gain access to Power. Try to schedule a meeting with Power to verify the other characteristic scores. 

When Kurt tries to meet with Power but gets shunted to lower-level managers, the Access to Power score is zero or one. And the closer he can get to Power, the higher the score goes. 

Kurt knows that Power is the only one who can commit to buying his solution. And without access to Power, he faces a very long sales cycle that likely ends in “no decision.”

Kurt manages to access Power at Transformers.

Transformer Access to Power Score: 4


If the funding process is poorly understood, Kurt scores a prospect as zero or one. Then Transformers receives a two, because Power has not yet confirmed funding. Kurt only has the word of the controller that funding is available. Although it isn’t enough to guarantee the project will make the budget.

Then the score may increase after an analysis is presented to Power. 

Transformer Funding Score: 2


For early or late majorities, even laggards, the ROI value helps distinguish a company from its competitors and other projects competing for the same dollars. 

Typically, Kurt won’t score the prospect higher than one until he has more information to predict his solution’s value and develop a valid ROI estimate. However, he is familiar enough with Transformers to score it relatively high. In the meantime, he sets a goal of presenting to the Transformers CFO. 

Transformer ROI Score: 3


An organization’s attitude toward technology is pretty much set in stone. You can’t change it. So, if your solution runs counter to the technology direction of a prospect, present it to Power once. If you are unsuccessful, move on to another prospect with a better technology fit.

Score a prospect zero to two if there is little to no acknowledgment of your technology advantage. Score a three or four if the prospect recognizes the competitive differentiation.

In the Transformers’ case, there is little recognition of C3’s technology advantage.

Transformer Technology Score: 1


Kurt needs to determine whether Transformers wants to be independent with the solution quickly without a lot of service help. If so, the Service score is high. However, the score drops if the organization requires a lot of support and C3 is unable or unwilling to provide it. 

Transformers requires a higher level of support.

Transformer Service Score: 1

Final Score

The final C3 Z-score for Transformers is 18. 

What does that mean? Read the next post to find out. We will show you how to use the Z-score. This not only helps you find your best prospect, but also creates a shorter sales cycle.


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