The Best Sales Methodology to Organise Your Sales Team
How to Develop the Best Sales Methodology: Balancing Standardisation and Relevancy
The best sales methodology revolves around two elements: standardisation and relevancy. Standardisation enables everyone to speak the same sales language. Relevancy makes the sales methodology practical. The question is how to balance the two.
When a sales methodology places too much emphasis on standardisation, sellers encounter irrelevant scenarios, models, and capabilities. This decreases a seller’s effectiveness because they aren’t addressing challenges they see in real pursuits. A sales methodology that places too much emphasis on relevancy creates hardship for the sales manager. By prioritising relevancy, sales managers must approach each selling situation with every seller as a unique circumstance. This exhausts everyone’s time and decreases efficiency.
Standardisation and relevancy both have their place. The best sales methodologies find balance between both elements. Sales leaders can coach a team and make adjustments at scale when the entire team is aligned to a standard methodology. At the same time, sellers are more likely to benefit from and commit to a methodology when it has relevant components that speak to their unique needs.
To create the best sales methodology for your team, we’ve outlined what elements of a sales methodology need to be standardised and which elements need to be made relevant to individual sellers.
What Elements Should Be Standardised?
Three elements should be standardised in your sales methodology:
- The Underlying Theory
- The Milestones
- The Measurement of Success
The Underlying Theory
All sales methodologies are anchored to a theory. This manifests as the central strategy underpinning the approach. For example, Richardson’s Sprint Selling methodology is based on the idea that agility is the key to winning the sale because it’s responsive to the constant and accelerating change seen in sales today.
For a sales methodology to work, all sellers must be aligned to the same sales engagement theory. While there are many ways to turn that theory into practice, the theory is universal and unchanging.
Importantly, determining one overarching theory gives each seller a sense of where “true north” lies. Selling is complicated, messy, and full of uncertainty. When the path to winning seems unclear, it’s the theory of a sales methodology that reminds sellers what they need to do next.
Milestones ensure that all sellers are focused on achieving the right steps needed to close. These steps are categorised as sub-goals or mini closes. While there are different skills and actions that can be employed to reach them, each one must be part of the process for all sellers.
A seller reaches a milestone when they satisfy any objective that moves them closer to winning the sale. An objective is considered a milestone when it is so important that removing it from the process would likely result in a lost sale. These milestones should mirror the steps of buyers’ journeys as they evaluate and select an optimal solution.
For example, a key milestone in most sales methodologies is the task of understanding the core challenge or goal a prospect faces. Without this information the seller cannot possibly frame the value of the solution later.
Similarly, another common and important milestone is the act of engaging those stakeholders who have the authority to buy. Simply, you cannot sell to someone who cannot buy.
Sales methodology milestones are elemental. They matter in every pursuit. Richardson’s agile sales methodology defines each milestone as a “selling sprint.” These selling sprints ensure sales professionals are constantly revisiting the facts and revising their understanding of the customer’s setting so they can be nimble, responsive, and collaborative.
The Measurement of Success
To standardise the measurement of success, each member of the sales team focuses on the same ultimate goals. For example, sales leadership might choose to prioritise common metrics such as:
- Win rate
- Contract value
- Sales cycle
- Quota attainment
- Time to productivity
Standardising these metrics across the team is what makes pipeline, opportunity and sales performance reviews, and coaching, possible.
To increase effectiveness, sales leaders should also standardise how they measure success for the milestones in the methodology. For example, sellers need to have a clear way to assess if they have pinpointed the customer’s core challenge or goal. They also need an objective way to measure whether or not they have built a consensus among the key decision-makers.
Aligning the team to the same success criteria is important for another reason: the common payoff. The team will perform better as a whole when they know that they’re all being measured against the same factors. This encourages collaboration and teamwork.
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What Elements Should Be Made Relevant?
Three elements should be made relevant in your sales methodology:
- The scenarios used in training
- The modules included in the learning experience
- The reinforcement content
The Scenarios Used in Training
Highly customised scenarios used in role play exercises demonstrate the practicality of the selling skills in the methodology. This kind of relevancy jump starts the seller’s commitment to training because they immediately see how the skills will make them more successful.
Relevant scenarios also help contextualise the selling skills. This helps sellers see how the concepts can be applied in situations that are messy, high-stakes, and confusing. When customising selling scenarios, sales managers and trainers should collaborate to determine the kinds of objections that should be raised to simulate real sales conversations. They should also consider how factors like pricing, competing solutions, and the number of decision-makers should be represented in the scenarios.
These training scenarios should also be made relevant to different roles within the sales organisation. The scenarios that are appropriate to field sellers are likely different than those that are right for an inside sales team, or customer service professionals.
The Modules Included in the Learning Experience
Sales leaders need a choice of modules that deliver training that is relevant to individual sellers. For some, an appropriate module will provide prospecting skills needed to target the right customers and create compelling messaging. For others, a negotiation module is the answer, especially when sellers face price resistance. Modular learning is the best way to deliver relevant training that immediately addresses developmental needs.
This approach also minimises time out-of-market as sellers learn only what they need, and then apply it immediately to in-play pursuits. Moreover, highly relevant modules allow sellers to learn key concepts in a short period which keeps the experience engaging.
The Reinforcement Content
Reinforcement should echo the customised scenarios and modules in the training. Sellers need to be reminded, post-training, of how the skills fit in the context of real pursuits.
Periodic post-training review of key concepts will also ensure adoption and enhance mastery. The effectiveness of this approach – called spaced repetition – is due to the fact that each concept can be learned in one session. This is different than a stop/start training engagement in which a single concept might be spread over several sessions separated by days or weeks, leading to interrupted learning.
To reinforce content for sellers, sales leaders also need leverage customisation. Sales leaders can begin this process by considering the duration and the medium of the content. For many, shorter durations – revisiting key concepts in just a few minutes - work best. Additionally, the most effective medium is usually a mobile-optimised solution that can be accessed in the flow of work.
To deploy the best sales methodology, it requires careful consideration of both standardisation and relevancy. Standardisation keeps the team united under the same general approach and goals, while relevancy keeps the skills practical. By learning to balance both elements, your sales team can work more effectively and efficiently. For the next step in improving your sales methodology, learn how to create an integration plan in our article “Connecting Sales Methodology to Your Systems and Processes.”
Article: Connecting Sales Methodology to Your Systems and Processes
In our brief, Connecting Your Sales Methodology to Your Systems and Processes, we address how to integrate your sales methodology with your technology, resources, and people.Download
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