The recipe for an organization’s sales success used to look a lot like your grandma’s favorite cookie recipe: add a pinch of this and a dash of that, stir to combine and throw it in the oven to bake. Take some salespeople with grit and EQ, track contacts and follow up. But whereas grandma’s cookies always came out delicious, in sales, this approach relied on persistence and no small amount of luck to close the deal.
Today’s complex business selling environment leaves no time for experimentation. Success requires more than various ingredients to be combined willy-nilly. To stay competitive in business sales, organizations now need a method—a systematic, established procedure for accomplishing their goals. A methodology is what wins deals.
Simply put, sales organizations that choose a clear methodology and get their salesforce to adopt that methodology outperform their competition. Yet, in our current fast-paced sales environment, even methodology alone is not enough to drive success.
The organizations that drive the strongest sales performance take a dynamic approach to methodology, allowing their approach to be flexible and taking into account each customer’s point of view.
Technology is one key to creating this type of dynamic sales methodology, using customer-focused data and analytics to provide sellers with the customer perspective they need to win deals.
Methodology requires training and familiarity first
Before an organization can adjust its approach to suit individual buyers, the salesforce must fully understand and embrace its chosen methodology. This customization must be built on a foundation of a proven, customer-focused sales methodology that guides the actions of sellers on the ground and helps improve win rates. By breaking down complex sales into understandable components, an effective methodology provides sellers with a roadmap to quickly win more deals.
Part of the success of sales methodologies is that they provide a common language throughout the sales organization. Therefore, the success of a sales methodology depends on how well everyone in the entire sales organization adopts it, and how consistently sellers and their managers use it. A recent CSO Insights research paper, “The Business Case for Sales Methodology Training,” noted “a clear correlation between the effectiveness of sales methodology training and seller performance… Organizations whose sales methodology training met or exceeded expectations out-performed those organizations who felt their sales methodology training needed redesign or improvement by 22.9 percent.”
The seller experience informs an effective sales methodology. According to CSO Insights, only 34 percent of all salespeople consistently document their strategies for enterprise sales. But when it comes to world-class sales performers, CSO Insights found that a remarkable 82 percent document their strategy when pursuing a large deal. Not only does that help the individual seller’s close rate, but it also helps the business as a whole: salespeople who document exactly what they do when pursuing complex sales enable their organization to learn what works.
Sales teams that rely upon experience-based methodology learn to speak the same language and follow the same process as everyone else across the organization, resulting in a consistent, repeatable and scalable approach. That type of proven methodology is essential to closing sales consistently and predictably, especially in today’s rapidly changing global marketplace. Selling is a process. The better the process, the better—and the more consistent—the results.
Technology enables a dynamic, customer-focused methodology
Once a methodology is firmly entrenched, organizations can turn to the next level: making their sales customer-focused. This is where sales technology shines, infusing a sales organization’s methodology with customer-specific data and insights that drive deals forward. Companies with this dynamic sales methodology in place have a 37.1 percent better quota-achievement rate than those with an informal approach, according to CSO Insights.
Technology designed for today’s sellers uses predictive analytics to boost sales productivity. CSO Insights research tells us that 86 percent of world-class sales performers take the time to understand their customers’ issues before proposing a solution, compared to only 51 percent of average sales professionals. Early adopters of predictive analytics platforms already see how they can drive sales success. In some cases, CSO Insights found that these advanced platforms can contribute to double-digit increases in win rates and average deal size as well as similar decreases in sell-cycle length, by showing sellers in real time which next step will move the deal forward.
The value of sales technology persists throughout the pipeline. Sellers can add value early in the sales process by understanding the customer’s business and objectives in a deeper way. When predictive analytics layer onto selling methodology, it helps sellers develop winning strategies for each deal, prioritize deals appropriately, improve time management and plan their daily activities more effectively. At the same time, sales managers can use the customer-focused data generated through analytics to give more actionable coaching advice, guiding the actions of sales reps to improve win rates. Sales analytics platforms like Scout can assist sales executives in identifying win/loss patterns and improving the accuracy of sales data and revenue forecasting.
Selling has changed over the years, adjusting to meet the needs of a changing customer base. While methodology is still the foundation to successful sales, technology is the key to making that time-tested methodology dynamic and customer-centered. Today’s buyers have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Sellers must arm themselves with the right methodology, combined with technology-enabled insights, to stay focused on their customers’ needs and take the right steps to win deals.
Contact us to find out how Miller Heiman Group can help.