One of our clients made a considerable investment in a Methodology, only to discover that it was not effective because there was no Process to support it. To avoid making a similar expensive mistake, here is a quick overview of the basics and some tips for taking action.
What is a Sales Process?
A Sales Process is a flow and it is ‘brand-free.’ It includes the following 10 elements:
- It is usually customized to reflect the unique selling environment, organizational structure, sales channels, and customer segments.
- Stages are well-defined; each of which usually has a name like ‘Evaluate Options’ or ‘Identify Requirements’.
- Each stage has its own buyer-related exit criteria that capture the buyer-specific actions that indicate a deal has moved from one stage to the next.
- Specific steps for each stage are clearly defined.
- An automation tool is used to track progress from one stage to the next with the goal of reducing cycle time and increasing the win/close rate.
- A pipeline of opportunities by stage is produced; the individual opportunities can be connected to the sales forecast.
- Role-specific guidance directs the activities of the rep, the manager and the pre-sales support along with any others involved in the process; everyone knows what to do.
- Some form of Lead Management process is integrated with the sales process; it provides qualified Leads and manages them to become sales Opportunities.
- Some form of Implementation / Account Management is integrated with the sales process; it receives the output from the sales process: a new deal to be executed or relationship to be managed.
- The sales organization ‘owns’ the process and can improve and change it over time without concern for licensing or 3rd party training.
What is a Sales Methodology?
A Sales Methodology is the ‘how’ of selling as a skill set.
- Methodologies are usually thematic in nature, often branded by an individual. Examples include Neil Rackham’s SPIN® Selling, Michael Bosworth’s Solution Selling®, Miller-Heiman’s Conceptual Selling®, or Jill Konrath’s SNAP Selling.
- Job aids, templates and tools are used to support and execute the selling technique.
- These methodologies are sold based on a fee charged for the intellectual property combined with a per-person per-year charge for training and license fees.
- Some sales methodologies boast automation modules within CRM applications, but they lack the discipline of a structure. Results will not be predictable or repeatable. Even more important, there is no measurement.
Why should you care about the Difference?
A sales methodology requires the framework of a process. Without it, even the best tools and techniques will not matter for much. Unlike ‘out-of-the-box’ methodology training, it takes time to design a sales process that is mapped to the buying process. And the effectiveness is dramatically improved if it is embedded into a CRM system. This, of course can take time for IT to implement. It takes longer to see the benefits of a sales process than a methodology training program. However, the impact of a sales process is greater and, more importantly, a process can be improved over time.
- If you already have a Sales Process, ensure that it reflects the 10 characteristics above
- If you already have a Sales Methodology determine if it is generating these same 10 characteristics. If not, consider implementing a custom Sales Process
If you have any comments about your experiences with Process and Methodology that work well together, please comment below. Implemented properly, a strong sales process produces a clear competitive advantage.
For more ideas on how to elevate your sales process and your organization to world-class performance, click on the link below.