This is the second in a series of four articles that pose the question:
What is the intersection between optimal sales leadership… and the optimal use of today’s technology?
At Sandler, we see four areas that sales leaders will want to pay attention to. In an earlier piece, we looked at the best ways technology can support your team’s sales process. That’s the first pillar. In this article, we’ll be looking at the second pillar: methodology. And in future pieces we’ll take a look at sales leadership itself and at the buyer journey, which are the third and fourth pillars, respectively.
Let’s take on a question I hear a lot: “Isn’t sales process the same thing as sales methodology?”
The answer we give our clients is NO – and here’s why. Identifying the right sales process is no guarantee that anyone on your team is executing that process in the most efficient and effective way!
Your sales process is the steps you follow – the "what to do." Your sales methodology is the tactics and strategies you implement to execute that process – the “how to do it.” With that much settled, it’s time to take a deep dive on the critical question of how your technology can best support your implementation efforts with your team – so that each person who reports to you works at optimal efficiency and produces consistent, predictable revenue for your organization.
Once you have clarified the sales process, a number of essential questions emerge for you as the sales leader. These include:
- Is the sales process built into our onboarding process? In other words, once someone is hired and onboarded, will they have internalized our sales process?
- Are we effectively training and reinforcing the sales process to both new hires and current employees?
- Do our coaching initiatives support our sales process?
Here’s the potential challenge. A lot of sales leaders tell themselves that the CRM they select will, on its own, somehow address and resolve questions like these. But that’s simply not true.
Think of it this way: A spreadsheet application, on its own, will not automatically address all of your organization’s finance and accounting decisions. Just as a spreadsheet application is a tool that can be used wisely or unwisely, the CRM you choose to use with your team is also a tool that can be used or misused. Someone needs to deploy that CRM intelligently to solve problems and achieve important goals. In the case of the CRM, that “someone” is the sales leader… and the #1 goal of that leader, we believe, is to create and sustain both a methodology and a team culture that supports the sales process they’ve identified.
That doesn’t happen automatically. It takes conscious effort over time, and the decision to lay launch and sustain multiple initiatives that make it second nature for the team to consistently implement the sales process at a high degree of proficiency – not just read about it or pay lip service to it. Taken together, these initiatives constitute a sales methodology that’s supported by the CRM (and/or any other platform used by the team).
When it comes to methodology, of course we'd love you to choose Sandler. But whatever methodology you pick, we recommend that you make it one that fits your organization like a glove, is focused on the buyer, and gives your team a viable conversational model, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all script that handcuffs them. We recommend you create a methodology that your people will buy into and use, and that you make the methodology consistent across your organization.
Below are some best practices we’ve picked up over the years about using technology to design and support an effective sales methodology.
- Work with the sales team on this. When methodologies fail, it’s often because the leaders have gotten together and simply dictated what’s going to happen in terms of methodology and the technology that supports it, without consulting the people on the front lines. You want their feedback about the access, the resources, and the applications they will need to implement your sales process. And you want them to own the methodology just as much as you do. So… listen.
- Review your sales process with team members and ask for their insights on the specific technologies that will best support the team and its process. Don’t just look at the front end: “We need X number of clients this year.” Look at what comes before then in your sales process: “We need to have Y number of conversations with prospective clients, and we need to generate Z number of contacts with qualified decision makers/influencers out of those conversations.” Now that you’ve got the broad outlines laid out, start asking questions. For instance: Could a predictive dialing system help your team members reach Y more easily and quickly – and earn higher commissions? Could a “conversational intelligence” system, driven by today’s astonishing AI technology, give you and your team the most up-to-date information on the questions, topics and phrases that correlate with successful outcomes on sales calls? Generate (and record) as many ideas as possible… and lean into the best ones.
- Ask yourself: Does the technology that a given team is expected to use regularly offer easy access to all the resources that are appropriate to the role? If your top-tier enterprise salespeople have the exact same resources available to them as the members of the customer support team, there are going to be mismatches and inefficiencies. To avoid problems like that, customize the resources to the specific role. For instance, if your team has developed a 30-second commercial that has been proven to deliver good prospecting discussions with a specific kind of decision maker in a specific vertical, the leader’s job is pretty simple: Make sure it is easy for everyone reaching out to the same decision maker in that same vertical to pull the text of that talk track from within their CRM when they’re prospecting. Do that for all the resources they will need at all the different stages of the sales cycle.
- Make the tech that supports your methodology as close to seamless as possible. The fewer times someone needs to leave an application, and then return to pick up where they left off, the better. We’ve worked with some companies where the salespeople are asked to be familiar with dozens of different apps, each with a different look and feel, and each located in a different place. That’s too many apps and too much trouble! Ask yourself: is the methodology built into the flow of work, so the salesperson has it at their fingertips… or is it living in multiple locations and hard to access? Does the technology have your methodology embedded in it once the salesperson starts to use it? For instance: Vidyard is an amazing tool, and salespeople who use it are likely to be better off than salespeople who don’t. But how easy is it for salespeople to use Vidyard at the right point of the sales process, using bullet points that have been proven to deliver a high-impact message to the prospective buyers they’re targeting?
- Perhaps most important of all, be sure that your methodology and the tech you use to share it creates and reinforces a common sales language. People who sell for your organization may play different roles; they may have radically different behavioral plans; they may need different resources at different times. Yet your sales methodology needs to unite all the members of the sales team under the same basic vocabulary, especially when it comes to the designations that identify particular pipeline categories. Until you have a set of common definitions that everyone is using, there’s no way to assess and refine your process or the results it produces. Once there’s a common sales language that all the team members are using, you can coach people and teams to more effectively implement the sales process. You can work together to identify what's working that you should repeat – and what's not working that you don’t want to repeat.
For help in formalizing your organization’s sales methodology and aligning with technology that supports it, contact us.
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