Sales Methodology is focused out – on the prospect. Sales processes are focused in – managing a sales team.
A sales methodology is a roadmap for how to find and close a deal. It’s a step-by-step directional plan for a sales campaign. We will create a sales methodology that, if followed, is most likely to lead to a successful client acquisition or sale.
How you sell needs to be specifically and exclusively tailored to your business and create a competitive advantage for you in the marketplace. What works for you may not work as well for others. There are product/services differences, resource differences, policy differences and horizon differences for your solution that can appeal uniquely to prospects. The goal is to package your business advantages into a compelling sales campaign.
There are many very good commercial selling systems and training packages on the market. They are valuable because there are high-level commonalities between an optimum sales methodology for your business and a generic selling model. But, one critical part of creating the best sales system is creating specific and clear differentiation. Understanding your methodology and your competitors methodology is critical to creating differentiation. Just by setting “Traps” and “Blocks” against competitors inside your sales methodology (and making sure they’re used) you can increase your win rate by 10% or more.
That’s nice, so…
When you build a sales methodology it’s important to understand how people buy from you, then align that process with your sales effort.
Of course, prospects don’t jump into your sales cycle and neatly play by your rules. They don’t usually admire the prowess of your selling methodology or sales skills. Prospects do respect and value it when you anticipate their needs. Every business has their own buying culture and processes and the most successful sales professionals understand and seek to align with each customer.
A prospect’s buying cycle may look like this:
You likely go through the same process when you make a major purchase for your business.
Recognition of Need: It’s rare that a business will buy something when there is no need. There has to be a reason for buying, and it’s often associated with either a “pain” or problem the business is experiencing – and may or may not recognize. Another important reason companies buy products and services is as investments – they will earn more money if they buy something. They either need to have already had this recognition during contact with you (easier), or you need to create that recognition (harder).
Search for Alternatives: At this phase in the buying cycle the client thinks they may want to act on a problem or opportunity, so they look for possible ways inc which to move forward. One alternative the client has is to take no action. Another alternative may be to solve the problem or grasp the opportunity by a means which has nothing to do with your product or service. For example, if a prospect has a problem with a computer system they use for customer service, they have many alternatives that may not include your products/services. To name just a few alternatives, they may:
- Ignore it. Just live with it.
- Upgrade it
- Replace it.
- Outsource Customer Service entirely
- Buy a company that performs the service
Competing Solutions: When a company reaches a conclusion that a particular alternative is likely the best, they look at competing businesses that can help. Sometimes may come to you in the form of a classic “RFP” or a phone call requesting a quote. But, in this phase of the cycle it’s more likely the prospect is going to buy something from someone – and that someone may be you.
Implementation: Some may not consider this part of the buying cycle until they consider the risk of losing a deal at this phase – and the opportunities for additional business that happen during implementation.
So how does this translate into more deals right now?
During your first contact with a prospect, understanding where they are in the buying cycle dictates everything you do.
So that you can understand what EurekaRG can do for you, I’m going to discuss the implications of a prospect being in a “Recognition of Need” phase of the buying cycle. Being in other stages in the buying cycle will suggest a different strategy for that prospect. Contact us and we’ll can discuss other examples.
How your selling methodology must address opportunities in a Recognition of Need phase.
First, understand that your chances of ending up with a deal if you meet someone at this stage are lower than if the prospect is in the “Search for Alternatives” or “Competing Solutions” phases. An opportunity in Recognition of Need phase of a buying cycle may stand a 5% chance of closing during your average sales cycle term. It may be even worse if you make contact with someone at the very beginning of this phase and they do NOT recognize a need – yet – for your product or service. But, you still must prepare your sales team to understand why and react appropriately. Why? Because while the prospect in this phase may have a 100% chance of eventually closing at some point in the future – just not in an average sales cycle term.
The prospect’s response to you contact may be considered an objection and each objection is the beginning of a path to a closed deal.
There are many objections you may hear, but here are just a few that are typical:
Your product/service is not applicable to their business: OK, no problem. After verifying that this is accurate, that prospect is scratched off the list and we have one down and 99 to go. Qualify out as early as you can.
They already own/use a product/service like yours: This is good, because it verifies they are indeed a qualified prospect. Your next step depends on the nature of your business. You may choose an aggressive approach of offering incentives to switch, and sometimes these work. But, either way it’s critical that you immediately begin to “nurture” this lead and position yourself for an eventual deal. The trick is to use the most efficient (read lowest cost) methods of keeping an awareness of your company in the prospect’s mind until an opportunity presents itself. A good Customer Relationship Management system and/or automated emailing program are important tools.
They tried something similar and it didn’t work: Prepare your sales team to respond with why your company’s service/product is different. First, you need to have thorough list of why you can succeed where others have failed. Just saying it is not enough: You need proofs composed of logical statements as well as specific example of how you’ve produced results where competitors have not succeeded. If your sales team is armed with this data, your chances of getting the prospect to seriously consider re-opening consideration go up by 10 times. If you can’t concisely demonstrate to them why you can get results, you’re going nowhere with this prospect. But, keep them in your automated lead development system.
They don’t have a budget allocated: Depending on the size of expenditure for your product/service there are a number of different strategies for this objection. In most situations, having a good Return on Investment worksheet is a very effective response. If you can demonstrate that there is a solid payback for purchasing from you, it’s often a short hop to finding the money. In other cases, you may want to concentrate on a process of being included in next years budget, displacing a current expenditure by use of your product/service, offering creative financing alternatives, or exploring a pricing model that fits with the prospect’s business, e.g. SaaS, or rental, or even barter.
There are many more possible responses, but understanding where the prospect is in the buying cycle will help you focus on where you’re selling, how you’re selling, and how to structure your sales model.
What EurekaRG will do for you.
There are literally thousands of books and websites offering sales management advice. There are consultants that will examine your processes and give you some general science behind selling and reams of boilerplate. To my knowledge there are very few actual sales leaders who will be onsite, in your deals, actively leading your sales campaigns and in a very short period bring your company and your sales team into a position of repeating a successful sales model.
I can do this at an amazing pace and impact because of my unique experience and talent: Early in my career I led sales teams for mega-businesses with virtually unlimited resources. I understand what’s impactful and what’s fluff (and so much time is wasted it boggles the mind). Since then, as head of sales and marketing for startup/restart businesses that lacked huge resources, sales methodology and process, I’ve pinpointed how to compress time and resources to a focus where every action gets an uptick. Joining these small businesses the challenge was to immediately turn on the sales tap. I learned not only how to build the sales story and team, but how to do it FAST (like yesterday fast). I know what corners to cut, what constitutes actionable knowledge versus trivia, and how to best generate and maintain a sense of urgency every hour inside a sales team.
Find out more about me by clicking here.