This is the second in three sales blogs that deals with the impact of COVID-19 on your sales pipeline. Each sales blog builds on the previous, providing guidance how to implement a rapid audit strategy using the Sales Pipeline Development Platform to help strengthen your sales pipeline after the initial COVID-19 disruption.

  1. The next steps to strengthen your sales pipeline after the COVID-19 
  2. Delivering a rapid audit service to support buyer enablement
  3. When should I offer a rapid audit to help deal with the COVID-19 disruption?

We are all familiar with the importance of sales enablement; however, post-COVID-19, if we are to remain competitive, we also need to think in terms of buyer enablement.

There is significant value in helping buyers deal with their buying struggles to move along their buying journey.

Using the Sales Pipeline Development Platform, you have a ‘ready-to-go’ rapid audit service to help buyers deal with their buying struggles resulting from the initial impact of COVID-19.

The Sales Pipeline Development Platform, uses the concept of scorecards, each scorecard is a sales lead or opportunity flowing through your sales pipeline, and includes various sales tools to help manage and strengthen your sales engagement.

Your three sales tools that are central to delivering a Rapid Audit service

Your three sales tools that are central to delivering a rapid audit service

The three critical sales tools included in each scorecard that are central to delivering a high-value rapid audit service are:

  1. Insight Threads,
  2. Buyers Journey, and
  3. Timeline Reporting.

These sales tools support salespeople to develop a value-based sales engagement and are ideally suited to delivering rapid audits.

The early stages of every sales engagement must focus on discovering insights to provide the foundations upon which you can build a value-based sale. The Insight Threads sales tool guides and supports salespeople have the right conversations required to discover these insights.

Insight threads link conversations with a series of customer outcome objectives. Each insight thread guides salespeople following a consistent and structure approach to prepare and manage conversations they need to be having with sales contacts.

We will discuss using the Buyers Journey and Timeline Reporting sales tools to deliver rapid audits, within the sales blog – When should I offer a Rapid Audit to help deal with the COVID-19 disruption?.

We recommend offering rapid audits as a free service once you have undertaken the initial sales qualification because they prepare and guide salespeople to ask the searching questions they should be doing anyway during a sales engagement.

Earn buyers trust helping them better manage risk and uncertainty

Earn buyers trust helping them better manage risk and uncertainty

Gartner highlight in their report, Next Steps for Sales Leaders After the Initial COVID-19 Disruption. After the initial COVID-19 response. CSOs should prepare for the impact on three areas. Customer uncertainty. Financial uncertainty and sales engagement.

Gartner’s research findings highlight that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. The selling challenge gets tougher when buyers are comparing potential suppliers — the amount of time spent with any one sales rep maybe only 5% or 6%.

In the sales blog – Help buyers make better purchase decisions, we discuss the role Smarketing has to play to help prospective customers move along their buying journey. Our digital marketing channels must connect with potential customers and tell a good story to grab their attention before they contact us. 

What was once undertaken by a sales rep now needs to be undertaken without the buyer contacting you. Smarketing has become a critical discipline and activity for sellers in today’s business to business sales world to master, which I discuss in the sales blog – Help buyers make better purchase decisions.

The Sales Pipeline Development Platform supports you get more time meeting with potential buyers.

Offering to deliver a rapid audit helps both your company and buyers prepare for the impact of managing uncertainty, including financial uncertainty, and maintaining a value-based sales engagement.

The rapid audit helps salespeople overcome the objections and challenges they often face securing customers’ and buyers’ valuable time. Offering the rapid audit as a free service, you turn the tables from asking buyers’ for their time to providing them something of value, at no charge.

Buyers will, for the most part, be eager to accept your offer. Fact is, you have simply approached the sales engagement from a different perspective that in helps reduce their uncertainty and improve your financial certainty.

Focusing on serving will increase your access to buyers’ time

Focusing on serving will increase your access to buyers' time

Whichever approach you take to securing buyers time, developing a sales engagement requires you ask questions, hypothesize and discover insights required to build a value-based sales engagement.

The rapid audit service steps your salespeople out of their sales process into the buyers’ journey helping buyers better manage their buying struggles.

Another benefit from delivering a rapid audit is transitioning your sales engagement to serving making it much easier for your salespeople to succeed and earn trust. A serving approach gives those you are serving more certainty to trust you will deliver on your promise.

Another factor the rapid audit addresses when dealing with uncertainty is that previously predictable data patterns companies, and salespeople had been referring to before COVID-19 are no longer reliable.

These data patterns and insights offer little value now due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. We are all in uncertain times, and no one knows what lies ahead. It requires buyers and sellers to work in partnership and feel their way through situations to achieve the following outcome objectives:

  1. Reduce customer uncertainty
  2. Reduce supplier financial uncertainty
  3. Improve buyer/supplier sales engagements

Leading with a rapid audit is an ideal sales engagement strategy because it supports your salespeople deal with their own uncertainty and challenges achieving their sales forecast and quota targets.

Customers and sales opportunities are also now more open to hypothesis-led discussions to collaborate on the potential impacts, uncertainty, and implications caused by COVID-19 on their business and how you can help.

If you are interested in further guidance and training beyond the sales blogs  and  sales guides available on our web site. Consider the following course, Sales Forecast Accuracy Training. The course provides salespeople with guidance and simulations to prepare and lead hypothesis-led discussions.

The Sales Pipeline Development Platform includes My Training Space offering a range of online training courses.

Trust is central to delivering a Rapid Audit service

Trust is central to delivering a Rapid Audit service

Central to succeeding delivering the rapid audit strategy is earning trust. We need to think of trust as trusting someone to do something. You would trust me to support your sales team to improve their selling skills. You probably would not trust me to drive a tank or fly a plane without certified evidence.

Offering a rapid audit helps your salespeople create the opportunity and demonstrate buyers can trust them and your company to help deal with the uncertainty caused by the initial impact of COVID-19, supporting them achieve their priority outcome objectives.

Providing a rapid audit supports buyers because you are helping them to clarify their uncertainty and arming them with guidance and insights on how to deal with this uncertainty to manage their near-term challenges best.

You are giving buyers certainty at a time when they need it most. At the same time, you are positioning your company as an information guide helping buyers through their continuous period of crisis management and uncertainty.

The rapid audit services gives your company the opportunity to deliver a unique, evidence-based perspective to help buyers make sense of rapidly shifting conditions and bring clarity to the struggles and challenges ahead.

Offering a rapid audit will also help buyers sift through the vast amount of information to decide what information flows and sources to trust. The rapid audit also helps you better manage customers’ and buyers decreasing risk tolerance.

Earning trust is central to dealing with decreasing risk tolerance because you give buyers greater certainty and the insights to make decisions and take action that moves their business forward. You are helping buyers simplify and de-risk their buying decisions.

Pulling it all together

The impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have had on many companies sales pipelines and forecasts will be dramatic. In the sales blog – The next steps strengthening your sales pipeline after the COVID-19 disruption, we reviewed the impact on UK economy in April 2020, with GDP falling by 20.4% in the month. The most significant fall since monthly records began in 1997. Many companies will have seen equal, possibly worse percentage impact from COVID-19 on their sales pipelines.

Accepting a sales pipeline and forecast on face value is no longer enough to remain competitive after the initial COVID-19 disruption. Strengthening your sales pipelines requires you to implement the distributed governance and sales tools to challenge and strengthen your sales pipeline and forecast.

Why? Because buyers risk tolerance is reducing. The number of people involved in the buying process is increasing, their uncertainty is rising, and their focus on having a compelling business case, and compelling return on investment is required if you are going to win buyers’ business.

To remain competitive, you must provide your sales teams with the tools to deliver value and earn trust that helps buyers deal with their uncertainty and buying struggles.

At the same time, sales leaders have to balance distributed governance with giving autonomy allowing salespeople to develop and manage their sales engagements. Providing your sales people with the tools to deliver a rapid audit services helps leaders achieve this balance.

In the next sales blog – When should I offer a Rapid Audit to help deal with the COVID-19 disruption?, we will consider when is the best time to offer a rapid audit service. How you can help buyers make better purchase decisions, and steps you can take to establish revised forecasting methodologies and early warning leading indicators.

About the Author

Treve Wearne is the founder of Nazca Services Limited. Treve supports businesses and sales teams positioning themselves and increasing sales revenues. Improving sales forecasts, talent development and retention in the most challenging business environments.

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