As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, everything seems different, but sales fundamentals haven’t changed that much, if at all. What’s most different is our time: each moment seems more precious, which means sellers must be conscious of how they spend their time preparing for interactions and of how they spend their buyers’ time.

Because every moment matters, foundational selling and questioning skills are more critical now than in the past. Sellers that implement a formal lead qualification strategy will find themselves allocating their time more wisely, so they can get the highest return on their investment of resources. And the cornerstone of a formal lead qualification strategy is the strategic opportunity quality scorecard, which was the focus of our recent webinar Selling in the New Normal: Qualifying Opportunities Virtually.

Here’s how the scorecard works.

The Strategic Opportunity Quality Scorecard

The strategic opportunity quality scorecard has three key uses in sales organizations:

  1. It measures the quality of an opportunity in two dimensions: desirability and winnability. By choosing deals that score high in both dimensions, sellers can decide which deals deserve more of their time and which actions are the most likely to increase the desirability and winnability of a deal.
  2. It feeds sellers the questions that they should prioritize in sales calls, accelerating the pursuit of the deal and focusing the opportunity for the buyer.
  3. It shows sales managers how to coach sellers—especially in a virtual environment—on which opportunities to pursue and how best to pursue them.

The scorecard refers to the universal qualifying categories, which we refer to as the “Big Six.”

  1. Solution alignment
  2. Decision-making process
  3. Timing
  4. Other people
  5. Competition
  6. Budget

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the first three categories of the Big Six. We’ll explore the remaining three in a future blog.

1. Solution Alignment

Today, buyers are focused on how they can move forward in the new normal post-COVID. That means discussions about goals and solutions that you held earlier in the sales process may no longer be relevant or feasible, or they may no longer be within your buyer’s budget. The goal is to ask questions about what your buyer wants to accomplish, fix or avoid in the future.

Here are questions that will give you insights into your buyer’s current state and desired future state:

  • What results will you look to celebrate six months from now?
  • What will success look like in the future?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What hurdles to accomplishing this project do you see for yourself or your team?
  • What is triggering your need for action?

2. Decision-Making Process

An organization’s decision-making process may feel hard to ask about, but it’s necessary to probe for information because it’s likely that this process has shifted as a result of COVID-19. Organizations are changing who makes decisions, what criteria they use to guide their choices and how they prioritize projects.

Ask buyers these questions to learn more about their decision-making process.

  • What will your next steps be after you validate this solution?
  • Have you decided to decide? In other words, is there any scenario in which you and the team decide to take no action on this whatsoever?
  • When you’ve made decisions like this in the past, what process did you follow?
  • What are your top decision criteria?
  • Who is your project sponsor?

3. Timing

The coronavirus pandemic is changing the timing of projects dramatically; what was planned at the start of 2020 is likely been delayed. Therefore, it’s essential to find out when your buyer intends not just to make the decision to buy but also to discover the timing of all the elements along the critical path for implementing your solution.

Ask these questions to discern whether your buyer has established a new timeline under COVID-19.

  • When do you need to start seeing the impact of your decision?
  • Is the second quarter still a realistic timeframe for completion?
  • Can you describe your critical path?
  • What is the timing for the various steps that exist between now and your decision?

Why Questions About the Big Six Are So Important

The way that sellers ask questions about the Big Six can fundamentally change the nature of a sales conversation. A formal, thoughtful approach to planning for these conversations can not only improve your conversations, help customers make better decisions and drive customer engagement, but it can also position you as a business partner for your customers.

Download your scorecard or use the module below to start qualifying leads right now. And to learn more strategies for improving your sales techniques while selling remotely, check out our webinar series on Selling in the New Normal.

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