One of the top frustrations I hear from sales and marketing is, “Our opportunities seem to get stuck in the pipeline, we need a way to create urgency so they purchase.” This is a common problem for many companies as most products and solutions are a nice-to-have. Will they improve the lives of buyers? Sure! But it doesn’t mean there is a fire burning under them to buy it. This is the reality so many B2B salespeople are faced with – trying to drag opportunities through to the next stage without clear motivation for them to do so.

Just like the article on how to turn prospects into excited opportunities, sales and marketing need to create a journey for opportunities in order for them to progress to purchase. A journey where sales is adding value at each step. With some help from marketing, you can insert some great tools into your sales cycle to do just that.

Top tools to create a rewarding journey for your opportunities

Let’s continue our analogy from my last blog post of prospects being on a hike as they explore what you have to offer during the awareness phase. If all went well, they have engaged with your website and assets multiple times and hopefully brought a few peers along on the journey. Eventually, they are convinced that they should continue their hike and are ready to talk to the park ranger about a more advanced journey. That means, they are ready to engage sales and the guided hike begins.

Step 1: Live demo

It’s inevitable. The first thing excited hikers want to see is your live demo. While frustrating for sales who wants to start with BANT qualification, it is actually a great place to start your journey. Think of this demo as the map for your journey. As you show your hikers the map, you’ll want to assess what interests them and where they want to go on their journey. This means ask lots of questions.

It also means that you should be explaining the journey to them. What should they expect? What’s in it for them? By the end of the demo, you should be able to explain next steps with a customized view of what each step in the process will mean for them based on what you learned was important to them.

Marketing action item: Marketing can help here by creating some great visuals of the sales process steps and even help with the questions that should be asked during the demo.

Step 2: Business assessment

Sales often spends lots of time getting their live demo perfect, but fails to create an exciting next step in the journey. As beautiful as your demo may have been, your opportunities get easily distracted by other priorities and wander off the trail to take pictures of flowers.

This is where a killer business assessment comes into play. The assessment has to be valuable for the prospect and increase their interest. For this assessment you’re going to collect data, analyze it and present the results. Basically, free consulting. But this knowledge that you’re sharing is going to impress them. It’s going to earn their trust and keep them on the path instead of wandering off to follow a cute squirrel.

Assessment basics include:

  1. Collecting data on the current state of their business in the area that they will get value from your product (think productivity, risk, technology performance, etc.). TIP: If there is a way to collect this data without effort from your prospects, that is the best scenario to reduce their risk of continuing on the journey.
  2. Analysis of this data to demonstrate how bad their problems are and to provide a baseline for improvement.
  3. Explanation of how your product/solution will fix their issues.

Marketing action item: Marketing can help here by creating a presentation template that can be easily customized with the data from each client. Built in charts and graphs will make it much easier for sales to impress each opportunity without spending too much time to do it.

Step 3: ROI analysis

So the assessment got your hikers to trust you and value the information you are bringing to them on their journey. They now are convinced they have a need, but they have a big internal barrier they need to get through first — cost. The demo and assessment were flat ground hiking. But now you are telling them they need to cross a major river to get to their next destination.

This news will be much easier to swallow if you tell them that boats will be waiting on the shore with professional rowers to do all the work for you. Enter the custom ROI analysis. Create a spreadsheet that can be used to collect key information and automatically calculate the ROI. Make it as simple as possible for the opportunity; while still making it feel real for them.

Marketing action item: Sales will need another powerful way to convey this information to the opportunity. Another presentation template with charts and graphs or a beautified spreadsheet with the results will help sales to impress their opportunities and give the hikers something cool to circulate with everyone back at the office.

Step 4: A trial

As the ranger leading these hikers through the rocky terrain, you may have given them the hike of a lifetime. They had a rewarding experience, but they still aren’t sure if your product will work for them. They want to set up tents and camp for a few days.

This is where a trial comes in. And here is where you say “Our product is too customized, we can’t provide a trial.” Oh, but there is always a way. Have a meeting with the technology folks and see about carving out a slice of your product they can trial or creating a sandbox environment for them to play in. Opportunities don’t need to click every button, they just want to make sure it is as real and slick as you said it was along the journey.

Marketing action item: Sales needs an ally here to convince the technology team to invest in this. Help with brainstorming as having bits and pieces of your technology available for trials may result in some additional tools for the website too!

Transitions are the key to a fast journey

Even if you have all of these great tools created, the key to driving your hikers quickly through the journey is to explain what will happen in each step, what you need from them and the value they will derive from it. This will keep them focused on moving forward.

Need helping developing great sales enablement tools like these? Check out some examples of my work.