- January 14, 2014
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
According to FreeDictionary.com, the original definition of Methodology is, “the theoretical analysis of the methods appropriate to a field of study or to the body of methods and principles particular to a branch of knowledge.” Over time, the definition has changed and one present day version is, “A body of practices, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.”
I’ve written about Sales Methodology before. One of my favorites (at least the title) was Sales Process is to Religion as Sales Methodology is to Prayer. Another Sales Methodology article that I wrote was, Baseball’s Huge Impact on Sales Performance. This also had a math equation within it: Sports is to Selling as Baseball is to Consultative Selling as Pitching and Defense are to Baseline Selling.
If a modern-day sales process is milestone-centric (key outcomes that must be achieved during a sales cycle), then a modern-day sales methodology must support those milestones.
Let’s discuss a few possibilities.
As sales processes go, the steps could be as simple as the following:
Watch Dennis Connelly’s 3-minute video on this topic:
The methodology required to convert that process to a productive and effective conversation would be challenging to say the least. It’s safe to assume that when a company goes to market with such a simple sales process, there isn’t a methodology to drive the conversation. To be sure, the key in this process is the demo and the qualification is probably equally simple. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s really two questions around decision-making and timeline.
I once helped a company whose sales process was the opposite of too simple. It was so complicated that none of their salespeople could remember all the steps! It went like this:
- Inventory of existing components
- Size of components
- Total capacity
- Current usage to capacity
- # Users
- Reporting Structure
- Age of equipment
- Current Vendor
- Current Services Provided
- Current Fees Paid
- Needs Analysis
- Estimated of Value of the Opportunity
- Technical Fit
- Technical Teams Meet
- Credit Worthiness
This is a horribly designed sales process!
I will resist going down the sales process path and stick to our discussion of sales methodology.
What methodology would turn that process into a productive and effective conversation? In a best-case scenario, a salesperson would turn this into 50 questions that a prospect will not want to answer because the prospects don’t have the slightest reason to spend their time answering all of these qualifying questions! Indeed, it would take a very sophisticated methodology to turn this sales process into a conversation.
At this point, you should begin to see two clear themes:
- Sales Methodology is all about the conversation between the salesperson and the prospect. It’s how to make it a conversation, how to make the conversation mutually productive and how to guide that conversation to the next milestone.
- Sales Methodology and Sales Process are intertwined. One is not a substitute for the other and one will not work very well without the other.Salespeople that sell by the seat of their pants? – a methodology without a process – Watch my 1-minute video on this topic.
Salespeople that move from question to question to question? – a process without a methodology
This brings me to my original question, “Why doesn’t sales methodology get more attention from authors, writers and bloggers, and why does sales process get most of the coverage?”
In my opinion, it’s an educational problem. Unless executives are able to differentiate between process and methodology, they can’t know that one is almost always missing! If you’ve been exposed to one of these trainings (SPIN, Sandler, Solution Selling and Strategic Selling), then you know that they’re all good. You also know that there’s just something missing! They are methodologies without processes (even though they might tell you otherwise).
In other cases, you’re getting processes that lack methodologies. That’s why, when I wrote Baseline Selling, I made sure that it had the best of sales process and the best of sales methodology. It’s both, wrapped up in a single title.
Sales Methodology is extremely important today. Without it, your salespeople lack the ability to have consistent conversations. Without the right methodology, those conversations may not be as effective or productive as either party would like.
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