A number of recent surveys have found that sales pipelines are filling faster than a year ago but sales cycles are getting longer. This leaves sales leaders with a tough challenge: how accelerate the sales cycle and increase sales when customers are taking longer to purchase.
There are many strategies for accelerating sales cycles – even in challenging times.
One of the most reliable techniques is to conduct customer audits. You can train your sales team to do this but most companies hire an outside consulting firm to conduct their customer audits. Outside consultants have an advantage because customers are usually more honest with a third-party consultant than they are with a company’s sales rep.
What is a customer audit?
A customer audit is a detailed review of how your company is perceived by its customers, a review of each customer’s needs, and an evaluation of the role your company is playing in each of your customer’s businesses. Most B2B firms audit all of their customers. Some companies with very large customer bases, audit their valuable and high-potential customers, or audit a random sample of customers and use that information to classify similar customers.
There is no standard template for a customer audit but it usually includes:
- Category purchases made in the past year, and planned purchases for the near-term. Depending on the sector, the near-term is usually 1 to 5 years.
- Detailed information about the company’s purchasing cycle and decision process.
- Your customer’s most compelling business problems that relate to your company.
- Evaluation of your company’s performance over the past year versus customer’s needs.
- Product and service gaps with your company’s offering.
- Identification of incremental business opportunities within this customer’s business.
- Ways to build a higher-level relationship with your customer.
- Barriers to purchasing that are related to your customer’s business that are outside of your ability to overcome.
Analyzing Results of a Customer Audit
The results of a customer audit can help your sales team focus on the best sales opportunities, and optimize the sales message. The identification of product and service gaps can inform your organization on high-potential new product development and service enhancement investments. The audit can also provide directional information that can be used to define more effective strategies for pursuing new customers.
How do you accelerate sales? We are experienced in customer audits and many other ways to improve sales performance. Contact us for a free consultation.