This article was written by JB Bush from ValueSelling Associates. You can view his LinkedIn HERE.
FALL IS IN THE AIR…
and you all know what that means: it’s football season. As college or and seasoned professionals take the field every weekend, try to imagine coaching one of these teams of elite athletes with no playbook. They have all exceptional individual skills to run, throw, block, and catch. They possess the knowledge, the drive and desire to succeed. And yet, for all of this talent, if you didn’t have a playbook to guide these players, the result would be chaos and probably not a lot of points on the board. Not exactly the recipe for success, right? The same can be said for running a successful sales team.
Salespeople, like athletes, are elite professionals with exceptional skills. They both desire to excel in every aspect of their work. Unfortunately, many sales leaders lack the direction and vision a good coach can give. More often than not sales leaders can tend to run their teams like a random pick-up game. They tend to draw plays in the dirt rather than striving for repeatable success. Instead of coaching their sales teams to victory, many leaders fail to maximize the various skill sets of the individual members of their team. This limits their chances of being successful getting in the door, achieving, and exceeding sales quotas.
In this football analogy, your sales process represents the field. It shows you where you are and how far you need to go to get the business in the door. The sales methodology is your offensive playbook that provides you plays and direction to march down the field.
Implementing a consistent sales methodology can result in a ridiculous number of benefits. Not only does it define best practice processes and tactics leveraged by successful sales reps for account, contact and opportunity management, it also creates a common language when looking at getting business in the door. It enables focused strategy and review sessions between reps and managers that result in enhanced pipeline integrity. This also promotes better forecast accuracy and, most importantly, a customer focus on the outcomes and the value they expect from doing business with you.
Making The Change
For an organization, making the decision to pursue a change management initiative is hard. For the individual managers and reps charged to implement and adopt the new behaviors is even harder. Driving adoption of a sales methodology is work – plain and simple. The introduction of a sales methodology and the training around it is only the first step.
As with any change management initiative, there are several success factors that are critical. This begins with executive management communication of the strategy and direction, utilization of the process at all levels of the organization and the development of the individual role-based components for the process and associated skills. The ROI on the introduction of a sales methodology, lives with the training of first-line managers, as they play an essential ongoing reinforcement and support role. And of course, regular benchmarking, measuring and pivoting for success.
Ignore these success factors and you risk of running your team like a pick-up league. But if you do the work, stay focused on the outcomes, and fuse this approach into the DNA of your sales organization, then the work has a very real and tangible benefits – not unlike a championship winning football team. Let’s talk about the benefits.
Methodology adoption leads to improved forecast accuracy and pipeline integrity. This approach also reveals opportunities to coach, mentor and advise sales reps on a deal-by-deal basis. By adopting this methodology, a framework to prepare for strategy sessions can be developed so they can spend the time focused on how to advance a given opportunity, utilizing the best strategies and tactics rather than just inspecting the revenue value of the deal. Methodology adoption also assists in the management of your resources, the prioritization of activities focused on whether or not a deal can be won, and provides insight to customer issues and competitive threats. Senior sales management will not only appreciate the pipeline and forecast improvement, but also will be able to quickly engage in an opportunity if needed and review the dynamics of critical deals.
By incorporating and integrating sales methodology tools reps can easily follow proven strategies and tactics. Shifting the focus away from how we sell to how the customer makes buying and investment decisions shifts moves the rep into a consulting role. With daily usage, the benefits are ingrained into how they think, as well as how they prioritize and execute each opportunity and manage accounts. This approach provides focus and direction in the discovery of customer requirements, resulting in stronger customer relationships, shorter sales cycles, and higher deal margins.
The biggest winner. It is your buyer who reaps the real benefits of a methodology adoption. Make no doubt about it – your customers are not investing in your solutions, they are investing the impact, the outcomes, the business value your solutions have on their business. The best sales methodologies are modeled on how customers buy, so having a sales rep prepared and ready to engage based on a buyer’s specific requirements will enhance the buyer’s ongoing experience and reduce wasted time. Having the rep focused on the outcomes the buyer is focused on rather than simply the product or solution the rep is positioning makes this a win-win scenario for both the buyer and the sales rep.
Make The Call
It is not enough to introduce new skills, tools and techniques to your sales team and expect them to march down the field and score with consistency. Adoption is the accelerant for a sales methodology to produce true productivity fireworks.
The decision is easy: continue drawing plays in the dirt or get the team executing at a higher level.