Sales methodologies: how to pick a winner and make it work
Most salespeople do follow some sort of sales methodology – whether formalised or self-created. Sales methodologies are important because they are a thought-out sales technique designed to be followed in order to win more business. In essence they help you execute the sales process in the most effective way.
Which sales methodologies exist?
Sales methodologies currently exist predominantly in the business to business (B2B) market where sales usually need structure to understand the buyer/seller process. Some of the most well-known methodologies are Huthwaite SPIN selling, Miller Heiman’s suite of methodologies and Target Account Selling. Other methodologies including Professional Selling Skills (PSS) and Holden’s Power Base Selling have also been adopted across a range of industries for many years.
However, there are a new range of methodologies entering the market such as the CEB’s Challenger Sales. This provides a new approach by developing a sales methodology that brings extra value to sales organisations and customers by bringing insight and not just solutions to customers. With this approach to customers paralleling the ambitions of many organisations, sales methodologies become an ever growing need in the minds of Sales Vice Presidents.
How to select the right sales methodology
There is no one size fits all sales methodology. The key ingredient to selecting the best sales methodology for your business is to ensure that you achieve maximum coverage across your sales process without diverging from what would be the ‘normal’ way of selling for your sales people.
The methodology should act as a facilitating tool, a standard and common process for sales people to follow, coach each other on and deliver a consistent experience for the customer, rather than a slavish following of scripts. Allowing your sales personnel to demonstrate their personality within a sales methodology framework is what will bring real value to your sales organisation. Customers build affinity with humans after all, not robots.
Keeping these key principles in mind, along with the main business reasons behind using a methodology should allow you to select the best methodology for the sales teams to use.
How to embed the sales methodology into the business
In some organisations, the adoption of sales methodologies can often be perceived to be a large investment with no real impact. However, there are some basic steps to success in embedding the right sales methodology and then making it really work for your sales organisation.
- Deliver the correct sales methodology for your business. It is important to firstly understand what methodologies would work best for your organisation and covers the stages of both the selling and buying process. This will help facilitate a better experience for your customers and finally, one that would be easy for sales people to adopt. Also, a vital element is full buy-in across the business.
- Underpin your sales process with the methodology. Every organisation uses a sales process which has a varying set of stages. Tying in your selected methodology to these sales processes bring tangible results.
- Use senior and sales management to drive adoption and create the value. The role of the manager (both senior and sales) in driving the adoption of a sales methodology is critical. They should be the coach, ensuring that the methodology is used, and then manage sales people to continually improve performance around the sales activities. The methodology must become part of the leadership’s sales management process in order to really drive the value from using it.
- Integrate into software. Most leading sales methodologies will integrate seamlessly into most CRM software giving sales people the tools they need on the go. It will also help embed the use of the tools into your organisation’s sales DNA.
- Use sales people as adoption champions. By habit, most sales people like to use the ways of working they are used to and driving change is notoriously difficult in a sales environment. By using a range of sales people as adoption champions, they can help ensure that the right methodology is selected. They can then help to drive its use by promoting that the benefit of using the methodology is greater than the effort required to make it work.
Making the methodology work means making it part of your everyday sales culture linked to your sales process. Having the right sales process and methodology centered on the customer could help drive the top line that you are looking for.
Umar was a Consultant in Deloitte’s Customer practice. He has several years’ of sales transformation experience across the technology, media and telecommunications industry. Umar specialises in developing high performing sales organisations through robust sales and account processes, enabling methods and tools and developing strong sales management capabilities.