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Table of Contents

What Is Sales Methodology?
A Short History of Sales Methodology
Sales Methodology: A Pioneer in Solution Selling
The Importance of Sales Methodology
The Future of Sales Methodology
Sales Methodology FAQ
Getting Started with Sales Methodology

What is Sales Methodology?

A sales methodology is a framework that outlines how your sellers approach each phase of the sales process. While a sales process maps out a sequence of stages required for success, a sales methodology introduces discipline through a system of principles and best practices that translate into seller actions.

Sales methodology explains the “how” and the “what” behind the process, whether it’s preparing for a sales call, analyzing an opportunity or upselling a large account. It connects the process to your customers’ needs and provides a roadmap for how to navigate each stage.

To be effective, your organization’s sales methodology must be applied consistently and reinforced regularly. It must be supported by a formalized process and a universal language that guides your organization’s sales activities. In practice, a sales methodology equips your sales team with a practical, repeatable, scalable framework for sales success.

A Short History of Sales Methodology

Sellers have always used formal and informal systems to improve win rates. Before many of today’s sales training programs become popular, methodologies often focused on manipulative selling techniques that sales people counted on to close deals. From snake oil selling to high-pressure sales practices, these methodologies gave individual sellers effective tactics, but they didn’t serve the customer or the sales organization.

The first major development in professional sales methodology happened in the 1970s, when Xerox developed Professional Selling Skills® (PSS), a framework that empowered its sales force to win deals in an increasingly competitive copier sales environment. With PSS, Xerox created a methodology that introduced a “needs satisfaction” approach to sales.

An even more significant innovation occurred in 1985 when sales consultants Robert Heiman and Stephen Heiman released the book “Strategic Selling.” Strategic Selling® expanded on the needs satisfaction approach of PSS, equipping sales teams with a proven methodology for managing complex sales processes.

In addition to sidelining manipulative sales tactics and a sales mentality rooted in simply getting the order, Strategic Selling® transformed sales and popularized concepts like the “win-win” approach so common in successful organizations today.

Miller Heiman Group now owns both of those sales training solutions that defined the modern approach to selling. Over the years, Miller Heiman Group added many of the best sales training solutions on the market to its portfolio, including PSS and SPIN® Selling. But as Miller Heiman Group’s core sales methodology, Strategic Selling®, continues to be the go-to framework for companies around the world. Now called Strategic Selling® with Perspective, the methodology sits alongside Conceptual Selling®, Large Account Management℠, SPIN Selling® and Professional Selling Skills® as the company’s most popular sales training programs.

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Sales Methodology: A Pioneer in Solution Selling

Since 1985, Strategic Selling® has been recognized as one of the industry’s most effective sales methodologies. Although other approaches, like Miller Heiman Group’s Conceptual Selling® and LAMP®, are also widely adopted methodologies, Strategic Selling® with Perspective continues to be one of the industry’s most revolutionary approaches to solution selling.

Designed to help organizations manage complex sales processes involving multiple decision-makers, Strategic Selling® with Perspective gives sales organizations a comprehensive strategy to win large sales opportunities. The program provides an action plan to successfully sell solutions that require approval from multiple decision makers in the customer’s organization, covering topics, such as identifying the economic buyer, evaluating the likelihood of success and assessing your competitive position. The addition of Perspective to the methodology encourages sellers to add value in the sales processing by bringing a point of view that helps customers achieve their business objectives.

At the center of the Strategic Selling® with Perspective methodology is the industry’s iconic Blue Sheet, a tool that guides sales professionals through action planning for a sale. The effectiveness of the Blue Sheet hinges on its ability to foster collaboration and sales coaching. In effect, the Blue Sheet supports the organization’s sales methodology by eliminating the “lone wolf” selling mentality and helping teams execute a predictable, repeatable sales process.

The Importance of Sales Methodology

Methodology is the backbone of successful sales organizations. It provides sales reps and managers with a repeatable, scalable and predictable way of operating that ultimately determines the organization’s ability to achieve process maturity and improve win rates.

In today’s global business climate, it is simply impossible to improve your organization’s sales capabilities without a consistent methodology that delivers several important benefits to sales reps and managers, including:

  • Proven strategies for successfully navigating a changing business environment
  • Tools to effectively evaluate sales opportunities, situations and challenges
  • A common language for discussing the steps required at each stage of the sales process
  • The identification of best practices that increase the likelihood of success
  • The replication of top performers through the sales organization
  • Effective ways to coach sales reps through the sales process in a scalable way

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The Future of Sales Methodology

Sales methodologies must constantly adapt to the needs of customers and sellers in an increasingly sophisticated global marketplace. Key trends that will shape the future of sales methodology include:

  • Perspective-Based Selling – Today’s buyers want more than solutions from sellers – they want perspectives that help them overcome business challenges. As the evolutionary next step in solution selling, perspective-based sales methodologies empower sales teams to bring knowledgeable insights and added value to the sales process.
  • Technology Innovation – Advances in technology create opportunities for organizations to introduce new tools to the sales process. Going forward, technologies like Scout by Miller Heiman Group will leverage data and analytics to improve win rates and help sales teams convert their methodologies into real-world actions.
  • Improved Selling Tools – As sales methodologies evolve, selling tools must be updated to keep pace with seller needs and changing buyer expectations. For example, the iconic Blue Sheet at the heart of the Strategic Selling® sales methodology has been updated to align with perspective-based selling and is now accessible to sales teams via the cloud.

Sales Methodology FAQ

What is the definition of sales methodology?
The term sales methodology refers to a system of principles and best practices that sales organizations use to achieve a repeatable, scalable and predictable way of operating. In essence, sales methodology gives your organization a framework for selling.

Why does my organization need a sales methodology?
All sales organizations require a methodology to improve their sales capabilities. Without a proven methodology, it’s impossible to win consistently and predictably – especially in today’s rapidly changing global marketplace.

Are all sales methodologies the same?
No, all sales methodologies are not the same. There’s a big difference between a proven sales methodology that organizations have relied on for more than 40 years (like Strategic Selling®) and less robust methodologies that have only been around for a few years. Many selling fads have come and gone over the years, so it’s important to choose a methodology that has proved successful over decades of business changes and industry disruption.

Isn’t sales methodology just another way to describe sales technology?
Sales professionals use a range of technologies to execute their methodologies. However, sales methodology isn’t a solution or technology – it’s a framework that regulates all of the organization’s selling activities. Going forward, the best sales methodologies will use data and analytics to suggest specific actions your sales team can take to improve the odds of a sale.

How can I determine if my organization’s sales methodology is working?
A sound sales methodology works alongside a formal sales process and a universal language that directs your company’s sales activities. If you’re missing any of these elements, it’s unlikely that your methodology will deliver optimal sales improvement. But the best way to gauge the effectiveness of any methodology is to evaluate the results it has achieved for other organizations.

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Getting Started with Sales Methodology

Sales methodology provides the foundation for selling success. Contact us today to learn more about Miller Heiman Group’s core offering, Strategic Selling® with Perspective, and to discover how a proven sales methodology can benefit your organization.

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