Applying an effective sales methodology is absolutely crucial in order to give your business effective and practical ways to operate every aspect of the entire sales process.
What Does Sales Methodology Mean?
Sales methodologies are structured guidelines for how salespeople should best operate during every step of a sale. This is different than a sales process map due to maps simply just featuring a linear set of stages. Instead, sales methodologies feature many different concepts and techniques to apply so that salespeople are set up to succeed.
A sales methodology quickly establishes the root cause behind every process and explains how to handle every action, whether it’s doing research in advance of a call or attempting to upsell a prospect. The salesperson will quickly address the needs of his or her prospect and follow the steps in the methodology to have a great chance at making a sale.
In order for a company’s sales methodology to be effective, it has to be utilized regularly, not sporadically. The more your sales reps follow the methodology, the easier it will become and the new process will be second nature.
How Sales Methodology Came into Existence
Companies have always applied many different strategies to increase their win rates. Before the popular training programs of today became widely used, methodologies were around to teach salespeople techniques to help them thrive and make more closes. Though these methodologies taught salespeople some useful techniques, they did little to improve customer interaction. A breakthrough occurred in the 1970s, when Xerox launched PSS: Professional Selling Skills. PSS featured a never-before-seen guide that encouraged salespeople to make sales by utilizing the “needs satisfaction” method, in which the customer’s needs came first.
The second breakthrough took place in 1985 when Stephen Heiman and Robert Miller released the book, Strategic Selling. This sales concept, “strategic selling,” pushed the notion of meeting customer needs even further into the mainstream and also simplified the sales process to make it more streamlined. One crucial aspect was reinforcing the “win-win approach” that is now common in many sales rooms today.
Why Sales Methodology Matters
Currently, having an effective methodology is crucial to the success of sales teams. Reps can quickly learn new ways to improve both their win rates customer satisfaction. With the way that all industries are changing so fast, it’s unlikely a business can ever improve their sales output without first applying a sales methodology. When deciding which methodology your company should utilize, consider that the methodology should feature:
-Key strategies with a proven track record that are versatile enough to withstand industry changes
-Useful tools to assist your salespeople in any situation that takes place
-Simplified wording that clearly explains what to do (and what not to do) at every step of the way during the process
-Identifying the best techniques that make sales more likely to take place
-Analysis of top sales performers and instructions for how to replicate their success
-Managerial advice on how to coach sales reps and maximize both their potential and sales numbers
What Comes Next for Sales Methodologies
Due to industries changing and evolving so rapidly, it is absolutely crucial that your company chooses a methodology that’s formulated to withstand that change and adapt to the future. Here are the major trends that will affect most sales methodologies over the course of the next decade:
-Perspective-Focused Selling: Today’s consumers desire more than just products. They seek solutions that will help help them overcome any obstacles that their businesses may be facing. Perspective-based selling encourages salespeople to not just offer products, but offer solutions and value that will enrich the prospect’s business or personal life.
-Technology Innovation: As you are well aware, technology is changing rapidly. Your company, including your reps, must stay ahead of the curve so that your organization isn’t left behind in the dust. Not only will your reps be aware of the latest technologies, many sales methodologies will ensure that your reps are provided useful hardware and software that are proven to streamline the sales process.
-Improved Selling Tools: Just as technology will be provided to your salespeople, so too will many tools that will help them succeed, as long as your company utilizes an effective sales methodology. The tools will be formulated to maximize not only the experience of your reps, but just as importantly, the customer experience.
6 of the Most Popular Sales Methodologies
1) Challenger Sale
This method became extremely popular almost a decade ago. It asserts that sales reps can be grouped into five different categories: hard workers, challengers, lone wolves, problem solvers, and relationship builders. Which grouping is considered the most successful when it comes to making sales? The challenger. Challengers ensure that customers are aware of potential solutions and are offered value.
2) Conceptual Selling
This methodology improves the customer experience by stressing the importance of sell-customer interaction and win-win outcomes. The method encourages salespeople to ask five types of questions to their prospects:
-Confirmation questions, which ensure that information from prospect-to-rep is correct.
-New info questions, which make sure that prospects are successfully understanding the new information that they’ve been given.
-Attitude questions, which deal with the prospect personally and allow the rep to, seemingly casually, find common ground with his or her prospect.
-Commitment questions, which are used to determined if a prospect is onboard with the potential sale, and if so, at what level.
-Basic issue questions, which are designed for the sales rep to quickly determine if there are any problems or issues that need to be addressed.
3) Consultative Selling
This sales methodology allows a rep to utilize not only their expertise with the product, but also their knowledge of the relevant industry. The rep will use thought-provoking questions to figure out the prospect’s pain points. This allows the customer to slowly come to the realization that they need to make a purchase to alleviate the pain. This methodology ensures that the rep can focus on determining what the prospect truly needs.
4) Customer-Centric Selling
This methodology focuses on the long-term plans of the prospect to ensure the prospects experience success and achieve their goals. What does he or she hope to accomplish in the next week, month, and year?
Here are the eight most important components of this methodology:
1. Emphasis on situational examples over giving a proposition
2. Asking pertinent questions instead of making opinions
3. Less relationship-centered and more focused on determining solutions
4. Finding decision makers and capitalizing on them
5. Focusing on actually using the product instead of just describing features
6. Taking time on each call and never being in a rush
7. Adhering to the prospect’s timetable instead of the salesperson’s
8. Empowering the prospects to be successful instead of just trying to make a sale
5) Inbound Selling
Inbound selling is defined as business coming to your company as opposed to your company seeking prospects. The advancement of the internet has made this sales methodology a lot more popular over the course of the last fifteen years or so. Your company’s marketing ability must be as close to perfect as possible for this method to be effective. The method focuses on pulling in customers rather than always sticking to an outbound script. Utilizing metrics also key for this methodology to work.
Here’s what the letters of this sales methodology stand for:
This method is technology-focused and also utilizes metrics and data to determine the the best strategies for your company. At the end of the process, your company should feel like “champions” that essentially turned data into sales results.
Common Questions Concerning Sales Methodologies
-What does “sales methodology” mean?
A sales methodology is a series of guidelines, principles, and techniques that companies utilize in order for sales reps to have a consistent method that ensures sales numbers will be maximized. If you’re using an effective sales methodology, your sales numbers should increase over time.
-Why should my company utilize a sales methodology?
Think about it, all companies adhere to some sort of methodology. Otherwise, there would be chaos. Your company should be seeking to go the opposite route of chaos by having clear, concise guidelines and techniques in place to ensure that your sales reps are getting as many sales as humanly possible.
-Are all sales methodologies the same?
The short answer is no. Here’s the long answer. When your company searches for a sales methodology, you are going to encounter a wide range of methodologies. Some of them have been used for four decades or more and others were created just months before your search. It is strongly recommended that you select a methodology that has a proven track record of success. It’s simply just too risky to take a leap of faith and choose an unproven methodology.
-Does sales methodology mean pretty much the same thing as sales technology?
No. Sales methodologies offer specific guidelines and techniques for your sales team to maximize their selling abilities. The cream of the crop sales methodologies evaluate your company’s sales metrics and data points to determine the best ways to improve sales numbers, closing, ROI, etc.
-How will my company know if our sales methodology is actually effective?
In order for the sales methodology you select to be optimized, you must already have some sort of sales process in place so that a proper evaluation can occur. The more sales data and relevant information (of any sort) that you apply to a methodology, the more likely it is that the methodology you select will be able to improve your sales process. Be patient and don’t expect overnight improvements. A key factor is how receptive your salespeople are to revising their techniques.
Even if your company is already getting many sales per day, it wouldn’t hurt to evaluate sales methodologies and consider utilizing one so that your metrics will rise sky high. If you need help selecting a methodology, a sales consultant or coach could easily step in and help you and your organization find the right solution. Don’t fear industry change, embrace it by applying an effective sales methodology.