Sales Methodologies – Which One Is Best?
There are so many so-called “Sales Methodologies” or “Sales Approaches” or “Sales Processes”, or whatever you want to call them. The list is almost endless and it becomes confusing as to which method is going to be the right one for your organisation, product, solution, service, or sales team.
There is Target Account Selling, Solution Selling, Conceptual Selling, SPIN Selling, SNAP Selling, The Challenger Sales, The Value Selling Framework, The Sandler Selling System, MEDDIC, and Customer Centric Selling, to name but a few.
I don’t wish to berate the effect of these, or the professionalism in the way they are delivered, or even in their effectiveness when put into practise in an organisation. They are all excellent. They all have their particular structure, methods, processes, and related tools to help the organisation and the individual seller in need of direction, guidance, motivation, metrics and coaching. Many of these tie in with specific CRM and Marketing Automation tools to try and add more value. However, I do question their right to be appropriate.
They each have great things about them in certain environments. They are each relevant in certain organisations. They each have key criteria that may be applicable in a certain organisation, selling a certain “thing”, into a certain prospect, by a certain salesman at a certain time. However, they are not all things to all sellers! Collectively maybe, but individually they are not necessarily relevant in every sales or customer situation. They can help to enhance a seller’s performance but no set methodology is the same. Often they propose a “canned” contrived approach, which in certain situations is as much use as a chocolate teapot!
Lets face it, sales is a hard way to earn a living! You are only as good as your last month’s numbers. The pressure is on if you continually under-perform. Your job is on the line every quarter. As a professional seller you need help from your own organisation. You need targeted training, back up, coaching, motivation, tools to assist, effective marketing and a certain amount of competence and personal ability.
The sales game is a complicated one. Not necessarily because you may be selling something that has a sales cycle measured in light-years but because we are dealing with people. People lie, they don’t turn up, they forget you were coming, they haven’t booked a meeting room, they are not professional, they don’t care, they take up your valuable time, they tell you they are the decision maker when they are not, they don’t give feedback, they are dishonest, they don’t want to hurt your feelings, they feed you bullshit and their best friend may well work for the competition.
Some however, are honest, they do respect you, they are prepared, they do have a real need, they have arranged a meeting room in advance, they do tell you the truth, they do have a budget, and they are keen to do the best for their company. These are the ones we must find! And, we must find them before we spend too many cycles on them and waste our time selling to someone that is never going to buy. Therefore, the sales methodology that you use is extremely important. It will save you time and money, make you focused and amplify your chances of success.
I have spent years honing my skills, doing all of these training courses at various times and putting their methods to the test. I have sold everything from double-glazing door-to-door (in my early days), to highly complex networking solutions where you need a PhD just to converse with the prospect. And, to this day, the best sales training I have ever been a part of was the first one I had for a double-glazing company in Essex!
Why, you ask? Well, firstly, it was free! It didn’t cost more than the Sales Directors car to get a few people in a room and discuss how to sell your own product. Secondly, no matter what you are selling, the basic concept is the same. That is:
1. Get the right people in the room
2. Show them respect
3. Establish if they have a need and a vision
4. Pitch to them based on their need and vision
5. Ask lots of relevant questions
6. Always have a verifiable outcome at every point
Of course, this is simplistic, it is meant to be. When you break things down to their fundamental core, simple is best.
In answer to the original question; Sales Methodologies – Which one is best?
The sales methodology that I would always use is the one based on Common Sense! None of them fit your business and needs exactly. So, take the things that work, discard the things that are not appropriate, customise the process and approach to your business needs and arm your sellers with a the Common Sense Sales Methodology. That is what we do at InIT Learning. Check it out here:
Sales Clichés by Graham
How many times have you cringed in sales meetings or, even worse, in customer meetings where either your colleague or your boss drops in those sales clichés which make you freeze with embarrassment and want the world to open up and drop you into a big hole. You can see the possibility of a deal getting smaller and smaller with each cringe-worthy sentence that is released on a halitosis-fuelled diatribe.
Deals can be won or lost on wording. More importantly credibility and respect can be won or lost on wording, both within your own team and with prospects or customers.
We had a guy working in our team that used to come out with a load of them in almost every sentence. I used to call him Captain Cliché! I used to call him that to his face as well because he sort of thrived on this condescending approach in team meetings and with customers. He was so thick-skinned he didn’t realise that I was taking the Piss! Here are some of his ranting that would slip out mid sales pitch or mid meeting. It actually made the time at sales meetings pass much quicker as we would count them and give him a score at the end of the meeting!
“Don’t work harder, work smarter”………How?
“Cold-calling is dead”……….Oh really!
“Don’t sell the Sausage, sell the sizzle”……….I like Bacon!
“Don’t forget ABC, Always Be Closing!”……….. I am untrustworthy and will sell you anything whether you need it or not.
“Sell me this pen”……….I have a paperless desk.
“Low hanging fruit”……….I am lazy.
“Get some skin in the game”………I am still not circumcised!
“Calling to touch-base”……….You are not important enough for a real call and I have to look busy for my boss.
“Ring-Fence the deal”……I know you are not ready to buy yet so I’ll really annoy you before you are!
“Pushing against an open door”…….I will agree with everything you say.
“All singing off the same hymn sheet”…….No we are not!
“I had a couple of nose-bleed years”…….I am habitually under target.
“Not on my speed-dial”……..The prospect hates me!
“Like the Ginger love child”…….He really did say this in a customer meeting!!
Taking it to extremes, the closing remarks in a sales call could go like this:
So, at the end of the day, and with all due respect, let’s address the elephant in the room. Investing in our product is a no-brainer, but it sounds like you don’t have the bandwidth to hit the ground running so let’s ring-fence the deal right now. Going forward, I think we should run the numbers and identify the low-hanging fruit that can help you do more with less. We are all singing off the same hymn sheet here and we all need to get some skin in the game. I know it is not going to be a popular decision internally, and it will go down like a fart in a spacesuit, but hopefully you won’t end up feeling like the ginger love child. Thanks in advance for letting us go back to the drawing board and figure out a win-win. Let’s touch base in a week, maybe we can lock diaries, and feel free to ping me if you need anything before then.
We are all professional sellers, or at least we need to be. We are more often now, than in previous times, selling to professional buyers. These guys are trained to sniff out a Captain Cliché or a less than professional sales person that does not know his product, solution or service and, actually, doesn’t care. This is the type of condescending individual that treats his audience like they are idiots, and forgets that they are intelligent people.
This is not Glengarry Glen Ross and having to sit through an Alec Baldwin (Blake) sales meeting in the 1980’s, and we are not Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street trying to rip people off in the 1990’s. We are professional sales people and it is 2018.
The people that we are trying to sell to are also professional and they deserve our attention and respect, as we do theirs. We need to do our research, know how we can add value, adopt a productive and helpful mind-set, understand the prospects pain, engage in a meaningful dialogue and, forget the clichés.