This article was originally published on the RemoteSellingMastery.com website on June 15th, 2021. It is republished here and modified slightly as it is central to themes I have been writing on for the past 6-months.
That’s what every sales leader wants to see. And it’s not the common-or-garden variety of pipeline, full of fluff and deals that will never close, it’s qualified opportunities that will close in our time frame.
BTW, I snagged this from the internet in case you are not clear about my definition of pipeline. “A sales pipeline is an organized, visual way of tracking multiple potential buyers as they progress through different stages in the purchasing process”.
Question: Why is it so hard to build a quality pipeline? There is more than one answer to this question, I have provided four, but there are more.
- It is harder to get initial meetings in this COVID WFH environment than ever and salespeople are not getting enough “at-bats”, therefore the pipeline is sparsely filled.
- Failure to build trust and demonstrate competence during the initial meeting means the salesperson does not have enough insight to say whether an opportunity exists and the buyer will likely decline a 2nd meeting leading to a sparse pipeline.
- The salesperson talked about the product instead of listening to the buyer to get an understanding of the buyer’s problems and priorities and the salesperson doesn’t know if an opportunity exists and the buyer will likely decline a 2nd meeting leading to a sparse pipeline.
- Weak qualification and lack of an auditable milestone i.e. confirmation from the buyer that they are indeed willing to take the next step with you leads to a pipeline based on hope.
What are Visual Conversation Frameworks?
Visual conversation frameworks are a set of visual conversation structures that salespeople can use to engage buyers at each step in the customer buying process in real-time while in a virtual meeting.
These frameworks help the buyer to communicate more clearly about what is important to them and for the salesperson to listen and visually capture the essence of the conversation on a physical or digital whiteboard or flip-chart.
In a world where buyers are suffering from Zoom fatigue and Discovery fatigue from playing 20-questions with salespeople, visual conversation frameworks when applied correctly are a refreshing change.
They are great for customer-success teams, rookie-sellers, or salespeople who until now have had no formal way of conducting conversions, as they follow a logical method and are a natural way for buyers to talk about their issues. Visual conversation frameworks help drive deeper qualification and understanding of buyer appetite for change and help to create a shared vision. When combined with a great virtual presence and strong brand mojo, they differentiate how your teams sell vs competitors.
Salespeople, customer success, technical presales, and consulting teams are trained not to sell or pitch products in these sessions. The Enableocity Conversation Frameworks can accommodate and amplify any existing sales methodology, including Challenger, Force Management, CVI, Miller Heiman, etc.
In recent field activity post-training, salespeople still used the conversation framework to guide the conversation, even though they did not share their screen. After the meeting they populate the conversation template, take a snapshot of the image and embed it in their follow-up meeting summary.
How do they work to build pipeline?
Visual Conversation Frameworks are simply communication aids to facilitate more effective virtual communication. Adding a visual dimension to the conversation including words and iconography to capture the conversation helps to facilitate rapid understanding, retention and creates opportunities for collaboration and asynchronous selling which Gartner deems to be critical in the changing B2B buying landscape.
When we embed images of the completed conversation framework in a meeting summary after the meeting and send it to the buyer, we summarize the conversation and the agreed next steps.
We ask the buyer in the meeting summary to confirm that they are in agreement with our summary of the meeting and next steps, either via email or a brief phone call. If the buyer confirms they are in agreement, you have a rock-solid qualified opportunity.
If the buyer goes radio silent after sending the meeting summary and fails to confirm they are in agreement within 7-days, you know it’s over, unless the buyer has had a genuine emergency and has been unable to respond.
By communicating more clearly using a visual conversation framework and qualifying strongly we build a pipeline of qualified prospects and eliminate the fluff.
Asynchronous Selling and Win-Rates
Not only do these frameworks help to build a solid pipeline, but they also create an opportunity for the meeting summary to circulate to interested parties who we need to influence to sell, fund, and implement the solution. In addition to the meeting summary, if we create a 3-4 minute video walk-through of the conversation framework image, we create another powerful way to build mindshare asynchronously.
In combination these work to boost win-rate as they walk the halls of the prospective customer’s organization when you are not there.