Setting goals is easy, “I will meet my sales goals; I will achieve success in business.” This sound’s great but how will you achieve this (your goals)? The “how” part is the sales methodology; the strategies you use to achieve your target or goals. Professionals usually refer to sales methodology as the fundamental approach to sales and the terminology used when relating to customers to “close the deal.” The ‘how’ is usually the most difficult part of a sales process, as it determines whether you succeed or fail in making that sale.
How can you develop a sales methodology to meet your goals? There are different sales methods which have been developed by sales leaders and professionals over many years. You can combine these different sales approaches to developing a sales methodology or use one (single) method.
Sources you can use to develop a sales methodology include books and/or professional training. How you develop a sales methodology will largely depend on your “selling environment,” or your target audience.
Here is a brief summary of sales methodologies
The Strategic Selling sales methodology is the approach I appreciate the most and why it is listed here first. Bob Miller shares his thoughts about strategic selling this video:
Miller Heiman’s Strategic Selling might be the most well-known sales training company around since they’ve been training sales teams Strategic Selling for almost forty years. Even with the birth and evolution of the Internet and new technology, Strategic Selling is as relevant as ever. Strategic Selling is very well respected in the sales world and considered a standard by many Fortune 1000 companies.
Strategic Selling presented the idea of selling as a joint venture and introduced the decade's most influential concept, Win-Win. The response to Win-Win was immediate and helped turn the small company that created Strategic Selling, Miller Heiman, into a global leader in sales development with the most prestigious client list in the industry.
When in complex selling environments with multiple decision makers, this approach guides sales representatives to look for “Red Flags” which indicate where a deal might be vulnerable. This approach lays a solid foundation for handling large accounts (via the “Blue Sheet”).
Since this was developed before the more sophisticated tools, some may feel it lacks a reliable way to automate the methodology. The Blue Sheet, in essence, is a spreadsheet, which requires manual data entry and a commitment to update it consistently.
This outstanding sales methodology focuses on the fundamentals of a customer buying process and provides solid groundwork for handling large accounts with multiple decision makers.
Stephen Heiman and Robert Miller came up with the idea of conceptual selling. This sales methodology is based on the idea of selling a concept, as opposed to selling a concrete product or service (hence, the terminology conceptual).
In this concept, the task of a salesperson is to understand the ‘concept’ a buyer is looking for in a product or service. This approach has three steps to discover a buyer's concept, they include:
1) Get Information about your buyer: Who he/she is, and what they want/need in a product or service (concept).
2) Give the customer information about your product and how it meets their need. Show the buyer how your product or service offers them (the buyer) a solution to their wants or needs.
3) Get a commitment from the buyer. In this scenario, a salesperson consistently ‘drives the deal forward’ by getting a buyer to commit. For instance, a salesperson should offer a date to implement a project or a date and time for a follow-up on a deal with a call.
A sales methodology by Neil Rackham, SPIN Selling, is based on four questions sales people, should ask their prospects during the process of closing the deal. These questions are:
1) Situation: First get an idea of a buyer’s situation. For instance, do a little research to learn about company size, the number of departments and number of employees. Press releases often reveal goals and accomplishments, new products, sales and profit results and leadership changes.
2) Problem: Learn and understand a buyers ‘pain point.' Ask questions with an intention of gaining trust that will inspire a buyer to reveal their problem.
3) Implication: Ask a buyer about potential negative outcomes they stand to experience by maintaining the status quo. (vs. not choosing your solution)
4) Need-Payoff: After learning of buyer’s goals and objectives, offer a challenge to meet them by using your solution. Keep in mind to always end on a positive note.
This sales methodology is aimed at addressing the needs of the modern day buyer: The deadline-driven and overwhelmed buyer who has all the information they need at their figure tips. The SNAP selling approach focuses largely on the customer.
SNAP is an acronym for:
1) Simple: Based on the common marketing principle of keeping-it-simple while selling; this simply means the selling and buying process should be as easy and clear as possible.
2) Be iNvaluable: With a plethora information available to customers, it is more important than ever to be iNvaluable by being the best (and only) source of quality information, guidance and wisdom.
3) Always Align: Products should align with the needs and objectives of clients/customers.
4) Priorities: Keep clients focused on their priorities, as opposed to letting them get lost in the “sale details.”
Sandler Sales Methodology
The Sandler Sales Methodology shifts the role of the traditional sales representative and gives him/her the role of an advisor. Sandler’s approach encourages the representative to be as invested in the sales process as much as the buyer. This approach is packaged in the form of a training program that has 49 rules to help increase sales productivity.
While it is not my top choice, you will see this sales methodology frequently used. The focus on control and numbers can backfire to relationships.
The three most important stages necessary for any sales process includes:
1) Build a relationship with the buyer and sustain it: According to Sandler’s Sales approach, the seller should control the selling process by building a relationship with the buyer, and sustain it throughout the different purchase progression stages.
2) Qualify the Opportunity: Continually access the buyer’s “Position” throughout the sales progression (such as their budget and their pain) to determine whether they are a good fit for “your solution.”
3) Close the Sale: The primary objective is always to be closing with a focus on time and resources on areas that can help you make the sale.
Value Selling sales methodology
Value Selling helps sales representatives focus on the leads which are more likely to become actual sales. This is accomplished by moving such leads closer to the closing stage in four main stages:
1) Qualify the Prospect: It is important for a sales representative to learn as much about prospects as possible to determine whether they are worth pursuing or not.
2) Ask your buyer the right questions: There are questions used in the value selling approach which is effective in helping to “close the deal” but should never be asked of a prospect.
3) Value: During the sales process, communicate to the buyer how and why products or services you offer adds value.
4) Develop a mutual plan: Create with the buyer a plan that will work for both parties. For instance, you can agree to take a deposit (from the buyer) as a sign of commitment.
Before selecting a sales approach, consider how buyers go through a routine during the buyer’s journey. This buying process is usually different than your selling process. By understanding the buyer’s journey and their process of making a purchase, you may think better of selecting only one specific sales methodology to follow as a one-size-fits-all.
You should consider which sales methodology to follow and when.
Instead of leaving strategy to luck as you approach a sales process, think more seriously about the buyer’s journey and match your methodology for customer service excellence and effective selling. Though my personal preference is a Strategy Selling approach (win-win), you can combine methodologies to meet your needs or just focus on one approach that suits your business needs.
As you consider your approach to sales, you may also want to evaluate your sales compensation plan. We have a new white paper available which includes examples, templates and software options.:
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