Having a designated sales methodology can act as a guiding principle that helps build strong cultural values and process within a sales organization. These methodologies are often chosen by a high-level decision maker and disseminated through the organization through sales managers to their teams.
With the time it takes for these sales methodologies to travel from the executive with a vision, to the sales manager with marching orders, to the actual sales professionals that will use them, many employees may be wondering if they actually have an impact.
The short answer is, they do.
In their 2015 Sales Performance Optimization Study, CSO Insights reported that companies identifying as using a formal coaching process reported win rates 18% higher than companies identifying as using information or discretionary coaching processes.
It’s clear that formal coaching practices lead to big outcomes, and having a formal sales methodology identified is an crucial part of that equation as well.
Sales Methodology as a Coaching Roadmap
Choosing a sales methodology empowers sales managers to provide meaningful coaching and guidelines for sales professionals to tackle their clients, and hopefully meet or exceed their goals. These coaching practices create a process framework that sales reps can master and reuse time and time again.
Why is it so important that sales methodologies and coaching strategies go hand in hand?
Formal coaching programs are usually designed to gain more momentum from the already existing sales methodology. In terms of using a formalized program through one of the many sales training vendors, they often explain that their coaching methods are most effective when used alongside their methodology. Essentially, it’s a package deal.
This idea can leave many companies frustrated, as they may want to implement a new coaching method that doesn’t jive with their existing methodology, or vice versa. Companies that find themselves in this situation often feel stuck, leaving any new improvements or implementations stalled.
Not to mention, when it comes to launching a new coaching plan, methodology, or both, it’s not a cheap project. Especially when looking at companies with larger than life sized sales organizations, the idea of constantly changing either of these principles is financial suicide.
That’s why it’s important for companies to understand from the beginning, that sales methodologies are guidelines for your coaching roadmap. As demonstrated through the CSO Insight research mentioned above, coaching is an extremely valuable method to get more out of your workforce. However, your company should be reinforcing core values that already exists, not starting from scratch.
Avoid this problem by making sure the highlighted guiding principles will stand the test of time within your organization before adopting any new sales methodology. On the flip side, make sure any new coaching programs you’d like to implement are symbiotic with your existing methodology as well.
Choosing a Sales Methodology for Your Organization
If you’re lucky enough to be starting from scratch, the sales methodology world is your oyster. There are several popular sales methodologies out there, many of which have been adopted by extremely successful organizations.
How do you choose?
First, you may want to re-acquaint yourself with your company’s mission, goals, and products or services. To get started, start asking some questions like these:
- What ideals was our organization founded on?
- Is our current selling process aligned with market and industry trends?
- How do we create and build relationships with customers?
- What is the buyer journey for our product(s) or service(s)?
After laying out critical information about your organization, it’s time to do some research. Like we mentioned above, there are a variety of sales methodology options out there. There is no hard and fast rule that says you have to pick the first one you see, or even the first prospective company you may speak with.
When it comes to choosing a sales methodology that will remain with your organization through the test of time (we hope!), it pays to invest some days, if not weeks, in research. What are some easy ways to get started?
- Complete some online research. There are tons of articles, reviews and websites that can help you get started exploring the world of sales methodologies. It may even be valuable to assign a few different key team members to this task so you can produce a wider range of comparable results.
- Talk to other successful organizations. Your executive or management team surely has strategic relationships and connections to other organizations. Reach out and ask about their sales methodology and why they chose it. Exploring companies within your same industry, in addition to other industries will provide a greater scope of data.
- Reach out to some of the top sales coaching companies. Be prepared to hear extensive information about their own sales methodology and coaching methods, but don’t feel any pressure. Speaking with a variety of experts in the field will give you a better idea of what’s out there, and what might be a good fit for your group.
Talk it out! One person should never be making a decision about sales methodology adoption. Whether the discussion stays small within an executive team, or includes sales managers and even sales staff, having some type of conversation is key.
No matter how small or large the discussion becomes, you’ll want buy-in from key decision-makers because implementation will be impossible without it.
Making Your Sales Methodology Stick
Most importantly, once you’ve selected a sales methodology, make sure you are taking the right steps to make it stick. There are several ways to support your new mission:
- Reinforcement. Plan out your reinforcement tactics prior to launching your new sales methodology. Have a plan in place for both short-term and long-term strategies. Short-term sales reinforcement strategies may include tests or quizzes, and virtual role plays, while long-term options may include sales rep assessments in the field.
- Practice. Regular practice will help your sales reps grasp the skills and qualities they need to embody your sales organization’s methodology. Leverage resources like LearnCore’s Pitch IQ technology that use video capture and feedback tools to build confidence among your team.
- Coaching. Employ formalized coaching plans that will continue to develop your reps long after the initial methodology is launched. Using online technology devoted to sales team development can help speed up the onboarding process, identify gaps, increase productivity, and create engaging coaching programs that help your sales methodology stick.
Popular Sales Methodologies Used Today
To help you get started in your research endeavour we’ve compiled a few of the most popular sales methodologies being used today.
SPIN Selling A methodology made popular by Neil Rackham, SPIN Selling operates on a system of four types of questions. Rackham believes that by focusing on Situation, Problem, Implication and Need-Payoff question types, sales professionals can lead clients to come to the conclusion that they need the product or service offered on their own, versus having to be told.
If this method sounds compelling, get the full scoop by reading Rackham’s book, SPIN Selling.
Challenger Sale The Challenger Sale methodology argues that all sales professionals fit into one of five distinct categories. Co-authors Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon describe these categories as the relationship builders, the hard workers, the lone wolves, the reactive problem solvers, and the challengers. Perhaps alluded to by the choice of their methodology name, they argue that challengers are among the most successful group of sales professionals.
To understand why challengers are at the top of the pack and pick up some tips on how to become one, check out The Challenger Sale.
SNAP Selling SNAP Selling, an idea formulated by author Jill Konrath, aims to disprove the theory that there is only one decision that counts in the sales process; to buy or not to buy. Konrath believes sales professionals can actually see better results when they recognize and focus on three mini decisions instead, which are the choice to allow access, the choice to move away from the status quo, and the choice to ultimately change resources. SPIN Selling also uses a popular acronym of four major directors to guide their followers:
- Keep it Simple
- Be iNvaluable
- Always Align
- Raise Priorities
To learn more, check out Konrath’s book, Snap Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers.
CustomerCentric Selling The CustomerCentric Selling sales methodology operates off of the idea that salespeople should function more like consultants. Their focus should be on asking relevant questions and helping clients reach a goal or satisfy a need, not simply pushing whatever they are selling.
To learn more about this methodology take a browse Customer Centric Selling.
Conceptual Selling This sales methodology, founded by Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman, is focused on the idea that what clients are really interested in is the concept of a solution a service or product can represent, not the service or product itself. It focuses on three main stages of the selling process which include getting information, giving information and getting commitment. There is also a high focus on only moving forward with deals that benefit all parties involved.
Check out Miller and Heiman’s book, Conceptual Selling, for more information.
Does your company use a sales methodology? Tell us which one, how you have made it stick, and how it has influenced the organization.