What Is In A Sales Methodology?
I have been exposed to several throughout my career:
Professional Selling Skills
Dialogue Consultative Selling
The Challenger Sale
I suppose I could think about this as one for each decade of my sales career!
There are many other methodologies out there, some that spring to mind are:
Do sales organizations need a sales methodology for success? I believe so. Combined with a clearly defined sales process (the defined, repeatable steps that an organizational will take a prospect through to a confirmed sale) a methodology gives an organization a standard for the “how” of selling within their environment. This is the process that sales managers coach towards and it is the common language that should inspire marketing’s support of the sales function for customer presentations.
When is a methodology bad? I strongly feel a methodology is bad when it becomes a “sales pitch” that is delivered by rote with no customer insights, customer input or customer interaction. A sales methodology should not be a clever ruse that has a goal of maneuvering or trapping customers into a buying decision. As a customer I very much resent and bristle at this approach and I could not conceivably endorse doing the same to any customer!
What is the risk associated with a chosen sales methodology? There are several:
Hoping for a silver bullet.
Assuming that by implementing a methodology, you will be rewarded with an immediate payout of some aggressive percentage of sales growth. Nothing in sales comes easy and a sales methodology is only one plank in building out a sound sales platform.
Introducing a sales methodology as an event with no follow-up or a support plan.
You cannot have a sales training meeting and assume you have done your job. There is quite a science on listening skills and information retention but roughly speaking only 50% of the information shared in the “event” will be remembered at the conclusion. Only 25% will be retained by the day after and only 10% will be retained within a week. The key concepts need to be continuously revisited and reinforced. Sales managers need to work with their representatives in the field so they can observe their sales teams trying out the new skills and help to coach them up to the expected standard. This also ensures the team is using the new skills! It also shows that the sales manager is committed to the methodology and it is not a passing fad.
No organizational commitment to the methodology.
This is not something for the sales group to do alone or something that is being done to “fix sales”. This should be something that is a critical element in the customer journey and draws the interest and support of all senior management, regardless of department or function.
I started a sales career as a university graduate with absolutely no experience in sales. Having a sales methodology in the form of Professional Selling Skills, gave me a great structure to follow and truly helped me to embark on my career. Whether it was watching role plays or seeing other sellers in the marketplace delivering robotic pitches, I quickly decided that I had a framework but I needed to develop my own personal style. My work was still inspired by a methodology but it was something that reflected my personality and what I felt worked best with my customers.
A sales methodology that is carefully chosen, well supported and viewed as a component of a sales strategy is well worth considering. Please remember, it is not a magic cure for what ails your organization’s sales efforts!