Implementing a Sales Methodology that Sticks
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Within every organization, there lies a common language that guides each individual’s behaviors, mindsets, and processes. This common language can be overt cultural norms and principles, or it can be found in subtle traditions and routines. Regardless of its form, this language serves as the unifying factor that keeps groups effectively working together through a mutual understanding.
For sales teams, this language is the sales methodology. A sales methodology is an approach that defines how a salesperson should engage with the different stages of the sales cycle and customer journey. As different sales teams have different field values and engagement styles, having a strong methodology to solidify the overall tone and voice of the entire team is crucial in order to stand out from competitors and ensure smooth customer experiences.
Adopting the right methodology is highly imperative for organizations in preparing reps with the strategic knowledge and tactics to move their customers forward along their journey with an organization. When it comes to choosing and implementing the right methodology, enablement professionals can help to ensure that organizations follow best practices to keep teams accountable and aligned.
Here are four key tips to implementing a sustainable sales methodology that sticks.
Choose a Methodology that Connects and Differentiates
When selecting the right sales methodology, it is important to first understand the foundations of one’s own organization and set of challenges. This will allow sales enablement leaders to focus on establishing a method that truly addresses the field’s internal goals and weaknesses.
Start by taking a problem-centric approach that establishes a solution to the problem at hand and drives the deal from start to finish. Whether the organization is built on being more fast and transactional or long-term and enterprise-style, be sure to align the focus with the core strategy of the methodology. Allow the methodology to guide reps as they move through the different stages of the sales cycle.
Take note that methodologies need to align closely to the customer journey in order to provide value. Having full awareness of who the customers are, what they do, and understanding their needs should be the primary focus of the methodology. Especially as many organizations are now operating in a completely virtual work environment, customers are facing more complexities and overwhelming distractions. Thus, it is imperative for reps to continue providing consistent support to customers at each touchpoint.
“How do we continue to anchor ourselves against what we’re doing as a sales organization to support the value we promised to deliver all along,” said Tim Ohai, director of global sales effectiveness at Workday.
Another key characteristic of a successful methodology is one that helps organizations differentiate themselves from competitors. Without a unique approach to how reps are engaging customers, reps may struggle to build trust and prove value in a way that is both authentic and different from the tactics of the competition.
Instead of following the status quo or mimicking competitors, choose a methodology that communicates one or two aspects of differentiation that speak to customer needs. This will help open doors to customer receptivity, allowing reps to move forward in every step of the sales cycle.
Ensure Every Stakeholder is Bought In
After choosing a methodology, it is crucial that stakeholders at every level of the sales organization are fully involved and supportive through implementation. From reps to sales leaders and key executives, having everyone on board is key to making sure the methodology rolls out smoothly.
First, ensure that sales managers are fully capable and equipped to successfully coach reps with comprehensive training on the new methodology. Having strong measures for accountability and mentorship from managers will allow the methodology to naturally imbue throughout the organization. On the other hand, if managers themselves do not engage with the methodology in their own work, there is little incentive for others to adopt any real changes.
“If the manager asks questions to validate whether the rep has identified the pain, has tried to access the buyer, or has developed a champion, the rep starts to learn quickly to focus on these new behaviors and treats the sale more strategically,” said Paul Curto, head of global sales methodologies at Juniper Networks.
In addition to management, be sure to involve other critical players who are a part of the process. Encourage sales leaders to frequently engage with all sales levels and remind them to uphold consistency with the methodology. Connect with members who interact with sales frequently, such as consultants, sales engineers, or marketing teams who are tasked with creating sales enablement content. Further, reach out to key reps who can spread the methodology and influence peers around them.
Ease the Implementation With Change Management
Especially when it comes to significant launches or introducing new methods that challenge the current status quo, it may take time for people to warm up and adopt new changes into their routines. Sales enablement teams can help provide a smoother transition with change management throughout implementation.
First, focus on only one change at a time. Regardless of whether the goal is to change work routines, technology systems, or cultural outlooks, break down the critical steps into more digestible increments.
“If you really want to drive sustainable change, either change the tech and leave the workflow the same, or leave the tech alone and change the workflow,” said Ohai. “Then you can do the other.”
Next, build out cheat sheets to accompany rep training that reduce the complexity of the new methodology. For example, sales enablement teams can help to create useful templates and tutorials that can be used to reinforce key concepts or easily apply the methodology on the job. Providing thoughtful job aids and resources can significantly enhance receptivity to new changes and encourage adoption.
“Figure out what you can empower and maximize the resources you’re going to be able to give,” said Ohai. “It can be money, time, other people, or it can be a whole host of things, but you have to empower that.”
Instill Motivation by Highlighting the Successes
Once the new methodology has been implemented, focus on maintaining momentum by building morale and engagement. In doing so, sales enablement teams can help solidify the methodology in the daily routines of reps to help it stick long-term.
Sales enablement professionals need to encourage leaders to continually advocate for the methodology and demonstrate why it works in order to inspire reps to believe they should care. One of the most powerful ways that enablement can do this is by highlighting key wins that can be attributed to the use of the methodology.
“Wins are viral,” said Curto. “If you can attribute your wins to your methodology, that will inspire reps to care.”
By analyzing how the successes directly stem from the methodology, reps are able to clearly see the direct benefits and understand the formula behind their improved performances. Being transparent about these processes will further motivate salespeople to continue using the methodology to guide them toward each of their own successes.
Choosing, implementing, and maintaining a sales methodology that truly sticks requires a long and comprehensive process that deserves careful consideration and attention from enablement professionals.
Sales methodologies can have the power to transform the entire sales organization into one that is more effective and solidified in nature. To achieve this, it is necessary for sales enablement professionals to be fully present in selecting the right fit, generating support, catalyzing change, and highlighting wins. In doing so, sales organizations can ultimately achieve a common language of their own that allows them to work toward a unified goal.