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Sales Methodology Training: How to Introduce a New Approach

Sales management

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Sales Methodology Training: How to Introduce a New Approach

The need for sales methodology training has spiked due to changes in buyer behavior. Sales leaders need to reevaluate their selling approach and introduce a new sales methodology to their teams. According to research by Forrester, 89% of B2B sales enablement teams plan to launch a new sales methodology in the coming year.

Introducing a new sales methodology is more than making an announcement. No matter how great your new sales methodology is, the implementation strategy defines its success. Overall success rates of transformation plans have remained stubbornly low at 30% for years, according to data from McKinsey.

Statistics like this remind us how difficult it is to bring a new sales methodology into an organisation. Sales leaders need to approach this with a strict sales methodology training plan. In this plan, sales leaders need to:

  • Consider how they will communicate the new approach.
  • Consider how they will work with the IT team to connect the methodology to the CRM tech stack.
  • Define the metrics that will be part of the new methodology.
  • Explain how training will work and the reasoning behind it.
  • Detail the reinforcement components.

Here, we break down each of these five parts which together form a single, effective sale methodology training plan for introducing a new approach to your team.

Communicate Early, Often, and Broadly

To gain the team’s buy-in, sales leaders must make them part of the process. Involvement in the creation of the methodology drives adoption. While this idea makes intuitive sense, there is also plenty of research to support it. For example, the IKEA effect shows the “increased valuation that people have for self-assembled products compared to objectively similar products which they did not assemble,” according to research conducted by Harvard and Duke scientists.

With frequent communication, sales leaders clarify the importance of the project. By keeping the project top of mind, it remains a priority for the sales team. McKinsey’s research shows the power of frequent communication. They found that there was a 2.0x and 1.6x increase in the likelihood for successful transformations among companies that conducted executive-level weekly briefings, and monthly or quarterly business reviews respectively.

Finally, broad communication shows the sales team that it is an important business-wide initiative. Sellers are more likely to commit to the new methodology when they see that its success is a goal that spans the entire business. Product management, customer service, marketing, finance, legal, and learning and development all contribute.

Bring IT Into the Project

Collaboration with the IT team is crucial for success. A modern and agile sales methodology relies on data to drive results. Therefore, the IT team needs to develop the technological components to support sellers and managers in the execution of the methodology and its ongoing management.

Today, there is a bewilderingly large array of CRM and enablement applications, analytics, artificial intelligence, and sales productivity tools available to help sellers and managers perform. A good sales methodology informs and provides guidance as to what kinds of technology investments are needed to help sellers, managers, and executives succeed.

The involvement of IT is also critical because their work influences the sustainment of the new methodology. How? If sellers are going to take lessons learned in their sales methodology training into the field, they need a system that keeps them committed to these new practices. The CRM-embedded tools do exactly that. They keep sellers focused on the components of the methodology by focusing them on the milestones they need to reach to move to the next phase of the pursuit.

Define the Metrics That Will Matter

A new sales methodology means a new set of metrics. If sellers are going to succeed, they need clarity and consistency on the set of metrics that define their performance.

The sales leader also has a responsibility to show how the metrics connect to the methodology. If there is any disagreement between the two, sellers might think that the metrics are pointing them in one direction while the methodology points them in another. It’s equally important that sales leaders explain how the metrics directly influence success. When sellers can visualise what measurements drive outcomes, they are much more receptive to adopting them.

Finally, the sales managers should explain the metrics they are personally responsible for. This shows the sales team that everyone is being held accountable, and that the core metrics for success are shared across the entire sales organisation.

Explain the Training Approach

Earning buy-in to the sales methodology means explaining the reasoning behind the training approach. For example, wherever possible, sales leaders should cite the research underpinning the learning design. Sellers want to see the data supporting decisions such as:

  • Engaging in a blended learning approach
  • The effectiveness of role-playing exercises
  • Sustainment programmes

Research-backed instructional design legitimises the approach, making it a powerful tool for sales leaders.

A careful explanation of the training approach also illustrates that the programme has been designed with the sellers in mind. The sales team sees how the approach has been customised to their role and the specific challenges they experience in real pursuits.

Finally, sales leaders need to explain how the training has been designed to make the most of their time. Training pulls sellers away from pursuits. Therefore, it’s important to show the team that their time is being spent wisely with a training approach that is efficient and focused.

Detail the Reinforcement Plan

One of the most important parts of sales methodology training is creating a reinforcement programme. This ensures that skills carry into real sales pursuits. Moreover, the plan must be built around the seller’s schedule. In most cases, this means using a mobile-optimised approach that allows sellers to refresh their skills outside the classroom. This reinforcement approach drives long-term commitment to the new methodology because it can be designed to cover just one skill or concept.

This approach is proven to work as seen from research from McKinsey, which found that “organisations with successful transformations are more likely than others to embed transformation disciplines into ‘business as usual’ processes.”

As with the training approach, it is important to highlight the science supporting the idea that reinforcement drives sustainment. There is no shortage of studies showing that brief, repeated engagements dramatically improve the seller’s ability to convert what they have learned into sales actions. Finally, sales leaders may also choose to include additional specialised content that gives sellers the option to build skills. Examples included training in negotiation skills and prospecting.

Introducing a new sales methodology to your team requires a thoughtful and comprehensive approach. Sales methodology training helps sales teams understand, adopt, and continually utilise a new methodology. As buyer behaviors continue to change, an agile sales methodology helps prepare sellers for new challenges in the sales pursuit. By prioritising a new methodology, the entire organisation can find synergy and success throughout each step of the sales process.  

Need help getting started? Discover Richardson’s approach to sales methodology: Sprint Selling

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