Aligning your sales process and sales pipeline with your customers' buying journey and challenges.
For an introduction to Nazca and our Sales Acceleration and Enablement Tools, take a look at these three Quick Reference Guides:
This article is written to help reinvent your deal reviews guiding and supporting your sales teams to win more business in a rapidly changing post-COVID world of sales. We explain the Nazca Sales Methodology and how to apply it within your own sales business.
We will provide examples of how challenging your sales pipeline guides your team to manage a more robust pipeline, guide a value-based sales engagement, and forecast more accurately.
We finally bring it all to life in a series of videos recapping on what has been discussed by showing the Nazca Platform in action within a Salesforce deployment.
Is your sales process inward-facing?
If your sales process is similar to most companies sales processes, it will be inward-facing reporting up to management where your sales team believes each of their sales opportunities is in their sales pipeline at that moment in time.
The problem with obsessing and focusing on your sales process is that it's all about your selling journey.
A buyer and those influencing the decision to buy will not be obsessing about your sales process and pipeline and whether you are going to achieve quota this quarter.
The problem with obsessing about your sales process and the sales pipeline is that it is not you who will award the deal, it is the buyer who will award you the deal.
It's not about you, it is all about your buyer and their journey, challenges and what keeps them up at night that matters.
The bottom line - You need to turn from being inward-facing focused on your sales process to outward-facing focused on your Buyers' Journey and their challenges.
Your sales pipelines are all about dealing with people, human beings on the other side of your sales engagement. As obvious and surprising as this may sound, you too are a human. However, we forget this and become more like robots when focusing on our sales process and managing a sales engagement to closure.
Our brains are wired for speed, which means it will filter out any information that does not relate to what we are focusing on at that time. It's called abstraction and has evolved to protect us from predators and danger allowing our brains to take control in a split second to get us out of the path of danger.
If you are focusing on your sales process your brain will filter out information and insights given by buyers and those influencing the decision to buy. Information you rely on to achieve what you are obsessing about will never make it into your conscious mind - you will be unaware of it while your competition who is focused on the buyers' journey and their challenges will consciously become aware of what they are saying, signs, gestures, and other important information.
Interested in learning more about how our brains are wired and why serving first, selling later works?
Read this sales blog - Is your sales forecast eroding from the inside out?
Business to Business (B2B) sales needs a digital-first approach.
As salespeople, we know the first step to managing a value-based sales engagement is to understand our audiences situation. It is why we need to focus on the buyers' journey.
Gartner in their report, The Future of Sales, highlighted that we need to position sales to facilitate complex buying decisions.
It is the reason why we created the Nazca Sales Process Development Platform to support you discover previously unknown clarity, simplicity, cohesion and completeness in even the most complex sales and buyer engagements.
Your challenge as face-to-face interactions with customers is declining is to find ways to influence buying decisions.
A good place to start is by understanding the buyers' situation and what will influence them to make the decision to purchase in your favour.
Gartner research gives us part of the answer.
it’s critical to boost a buyer’s confidence in their purchase decision. Otherwise, uncertainty pervades the purchase decision process — and uncertainty makes it less likely the customer will complete the purchase at all, let alone enter a high-quality deal (i.e., buying a premium offering).
The impact of the pandemic is also changing buyer preferences, their behaviour and how they engage with sellers that are driving sales into a digital-first world. Your sales pipeline and process needs to adapt otherwise you will fail to close a value-based sale.
If you are to adopt a digital-first approach, you need to transform your sales process and pipeline from being an inward-facing sequence of stage gates into a living, breathing outward-facing reflection of the buyers' journey up to that moment in time.
To increase buyer confidence, don’t position yourself as the source of information.
Position yourself as “sense makers” helping buyers and those influencing the decision to buy to make sense of everything they’re learning, irrespective of source or channel.
You must challenge your sales pipeline to stop it lying.
The reality for most sales organisations is their sales process and the incentive systems foster and encourage behaviour that creates obstacles allowing you to step into the buyers' journey. Two major obstacles holding back success include:
- Sales teams rarely take prospects on a customer journey till they have signed on the dotted line. All focus is on the sales journey moving opportunities through the sales process, which, as we have discussed, is inward-facing.
- When company targets and salespeople and managers' KPIs conflict with your sales process, the sales pipeline is bound to be a lie - all you are encouraging is incentivising your salespeople to sandbag.
Your sales process and pipeline must encourage and guide sales teams, marketing and other business functions interacting with your market, to step into the buyers' journey the first moment your business interacts with an opportunity.
Do this and you will go some way towards stopping your sales pipelines from lying. The next question is how do you turn your sales process and pipeline from being inward-facing to outward-facing on the buyers' journey?
Keep challenging your sales process and pipeline
The image below shows an example of a sales engagement that has passed through the sales pipeline managed by Salesforce resulting in a successful outcome. My question to you is - At which point was this deal won?
All we know is that it successfully passed through a series of sales gates to a Closed Won outcome.
Consider this next engagement resulting in an unsuccessful Closed Lost outcome. My next question is - At which sales stage was the opportunity lost?
All we know is that we failed to close the deal when forecast and have no idea at which point in the sales pipeline it failed.
The sales manager and salesperson were oblivious to the risk caught up in the sales pipeline as it passed through each sales gates.
No one knew about the risk accumulating in the sales pipeline. That risk is eroding the sales forecast from the inside out. Furthermore, the sales manager could roll that same risk up into their own sales forecast to management. The risk is further amplified because management is making decisions based on risk caught up in the sales forecast.
As a business moves closer to a quarter or fiscal end period, all attention moves to execution to achieve quota and fiscal targets. Under pressure to close deals salespeople and the management often scramble to recover their position resulting in price discounting.
A further challenge is the number of deals that close in the last few days of a quarter. Purchasing teams and buyers are not blind to salespeople's behaviour which is why they often hold back awarding a deal until the final moments of a quarter or fiscal period.
The only repost sales teams have to this purchasing behaviour is to build a value-based sales engagement to protect themselves having to compete on price. A value-based sales engagement can only be built when you step into the buyers' journey and take the time to deeply understand the challenges and risks individuals and their business face.
You need an early warning system alerted salespeople and management to risk standing in the way of building a value-based sales engagement. That is exactly what the Nazca Sales Process Development Platform does.
Now consider this next sale engagement using the Nazca Platform embedded within Salesforce challenging the sales pipeline. You can immediately see there was a risk caught up at the Sales Stage 2 - Qualification.
Not only do we know this sales engagement was not managed well, it is probably the reason the opportunity was lost. Unfortunately, in this example, it was too late to save the deal from a Closed Lost outcome.
Indulge me for a moment and let me roll back time
If you were the sales person's manager running a deal review using the Nazca Platform, you would both be focused on understanding the risk being highlighted at Sales Stage 2 - Qualification and how to mitigate it. Also, why the other sales stages were reporting concerningly low scores.
You would be asking questions and supporting the salesperson develop a closure plan to recover their situation. You would also be considering available resource and other opportunities in flight within their sales pipelines, and be challenging them whether to qualify out.
Fact is, as the sales manager in this situation, you were totally unaware of the risk hidden in the salesperson's sales pipeline that could be rolled up into your sales forecast.
Without your guidance and the insights provided by the Nazca Platform, it is highly probable the salesperson would resort to reducing the price to recover their position.
If that failed, they probably would have a deal up their sleeve they had been sandbagging to pull them out of such situations to ensure they hit their quarter or fiscal end target.
Worse still, to further protect their position and avoid falling on their own sword, they might blame the reason for that other deal slipping on the product, someone in our business, or a partner for their failure to close that deal when forecast.
If you were an observer, I'm sure you would place a large proportion of the blame for the slipped deal with the salesperson. You would no doubt also challenge the sales manager and leadership why they have not implemented the discipline and controls to protect their business and sales forecast.
If they had, they would see their business sales pipeline become more robust, their sales forecast become more accurate and their business value growth accelerate.
How does Nazca challenge the sales pipeline?
Nazca challenges the sales pipeline using a series of leading indicators that you can act on in good time.
Each leading indicator guides sales teams and managers supporting their teams to be more objective and focused on facts rather than building a sales engagement upon intuition and gut feel.
The sales engagement below shows us what we should be focused on doing at each sales gate as we manage our sales opportunity flowing through the sales pipeline towards a successful Closed Won outcome.
- Take Control of your sales engagement. You need to protect both your own and others time and resources by focusing on opportunities that value you and have the money to pay you. Unfortunately, most sales pipelines are full of opportunities that value you but do not have the money to pay you.
- Step into the buyers' world to understand their buying struggles by asking searching questions and developing Contact Insights that will give the competitive edge to secure a Closed Won outcome?
- Focus on those opportunities that need what you can do better than anyone else. Qualify out other opportunities to create the time required to develop a value-based Sales Engagement focused on earning buyers and influencers trust and delivering value.
- Step into your Buyers' Journey and work in partnership to achieve their priority outcome objectives developing a compelling proposal for them to act now.
- Continue to maintain Control steering your sales engagement towards a successful Closed Won outcome by continually qualifying the company, contacts, and if relevant the Response for Information (RFI) or Response for Proposal (RFP) engagement.
- And finally, focus on Success to deliver a Closed Won outcome.
Now we need to dig deeper into the Nazca Sales Methodology further to see how we generate the scores that are challenging each sales stage in your sales pipeline.
How does Nazca guide your sales engagements?
Gartner in their report, The Future of Sales, recommends sales leaders to position sales to facilitate complex buying decisions.
In a world of “everywhere customers,” where it’s even tougher to influence purchase decisions, sales need to focus on helping buying groups feel more confident in their own decisions.
Gartner provided further insights and guidance for sales leaders in their report, Next Steps for Sales Leaders After the Initial COVID-19 Disruption.
Organisations that quickly adapt to this new normal of uncertainty, helping make sense of the market dynamics and driving a market narrative, will see a host of benefits.
We have consolidated Gartner's guidance, insights and recommendations into how to challenge your sales pipeline stages for managing a robust sales pipeline and forecast accurately.
the following three sales blogs guide you through how to deliver a Rapid Audit helping buyers make better purchase decisions. Each blog builds on the previous, providing guidance on how to implement a rapid audit strategy using the Nazca Sales Process Development Platform.
- The next steps to strengthen your sales pipeline after the COVID-19
- Delivering a rapid audit service to support buyer enablement
- When should I offer a rapid audit to help deal with the COVID-19 disruption?
The conversation is the lifeblood of sales, if you are not talking to your market and customers, you are not engaging with them.
The Nazca Platform supports you collaborate on these conversations shown in the sales engagement below for each sales opportunity flowing through your sales pipeline.
How does Nazca guide conversations through your pipeline?
Nazca uses Conversation Bricks to guide your sales team developing a value-based sales engagement. These are represented by the green, yellow and blue conversation bricks.
Each conversation brick guides the salesperson on the conversation they should be having and asks then to score their opinion. It is their opinion that matters based on objectivity rather than subjective intuition or a feeling.
By removing all subjectivity from your sales pipeline you are strengthening it to manage a more robust sales forecast.
These conversations allow Nazca to move your sales engagements from being inward-facing focused on your sales process to outward-facing focused on the buyers' journey and their challenges.
Each conversation brick and score is placed strategically along the sales pipeline to challenge each sales stage.
How does Nazca map to each sales stage in your pipeline?
This is our standard deployment for Salesforce, which will be adapted to your sales pipeline stages or if you are using another CRM system, to that sales pipeline setup.
How should I plan to implement the Nazca Platform?
Consider the diagram below, where is the most human interaction between yourself, the sales manager and your team?
It will is the deal review, so this is where your sales managers must focus on guiding and helping your sales team better manage their sales engagements.
The Nazca Platform is ideally suited to support your sales teams manage their sales engagements and close plans, that includes preparing for your deal reviews. Also, develop and manage the conversations required to manage a value-based sales engagement.
It is also ideally suited to support sales managers and leaders prepare for and run their deal reviews, and raise the sales behaviour standard required to drive business value growth and success into the future.
We have covered a lot in this article and if I were you, I would want to see it in action. That is exactly what we have done with the following three videos.
Video 1: How in Salesforce, Nazca challenges the sales pipeline
In this video, we provide a recap on why you need to challenge your sales pipeline to shift focus from your inward-facing sales process to outward-focused on the buyers' journey.
We will demonstrate how the Nazca Sales Process Development Platform is continually challenging every opportunity flowing through your sales pipeline and process. Using Nazca, your sales teams will be better equipped to manage a value-based sale, forecast more accurately, and support your business drive its value growth into the future.
Video 2: The science behind the Nazca Sales Methodology
In this video, we move from the art of selling and conversation to the science guiding us on the conversations we need to be managing to build a value-based sales engagement and Close Win outcome.
We will unpack how we better manage both our own and others time and resources. The different conversation scores are used to challenge different sales stages guiding a value-based sales engagement. How these conversations focus us on first discovering contact insights that prepare us to step into the buyers' journey. And finally, how we are guided to deliver value and a successful Closed Won outcome.
What is my next step?
Get in contact with us and we will:
- Lead you through a discovery allowing us to understand your concerns, wants, and needs.
- Show you what's possible and how using Nazca and the Onboarding we can solve the problem to help achieve your business objectives.
- Listening to you.
- Make the return on investment (ROI) case clear so you can present a compelling business case internally to invest in Nazca and plan with us your sales team onboarding programme.