Implementing Sales Methodologies
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As sales organizations grow in complexity and diversity — spread across regions, time zones, sectors, and customer bases — maintaining consistency across sales teams becomes increasingly vital. Beyond just consistent goals, messaging, and systems, success in the modern selling environment depends on consistent behavior. That’s where effective sales methodologies become invaluable.
“The value of a sales methodology is that it provides a framework that underpins all your sales activity by creating a repeatable, scalable, and practical approach,” said Ben Cotton, sales enablement manager at Automation Anywhere.
All businesses have some form of a sales process, and most have a defined sequence of stages sellers use to guide buyers along their buying journey — but not all operate with a sales methodology. While these other elements are a good starting point, a sales methodology is needed to lead reps through the behavioral approach behind each action. Applying this additional framework clarifies the “how” and the “why” of each stage in the sales process, helping sellers across an organization operate in the same way.
Adopting a universal mindset through sales methodologies can help improve forecasting accuracy, increase sales velocity, enhance culture, and ultimately help businesses win more. Here are a few steps to formalize sales methodologies and amplify them across the entire organization.
1. Evaluate Methodologies and Develop a Plan for Implementation
First, understand key priorities and initiatives across the organization and be intentional in selecting a sales methodology that compliments them. There are several methodologies available today, so thoroughly research options and choose those that closely align to the organization’s primary goals. In some cases, that might mean the use of different methodologies for different types of sales reps and sales teams.
“What we don’t want to have happen is that we introduce this methodology and the salespeople feel that it is so much of a departure from how they sell that it will never get off the ground,” said Glenn Clark, director of sales enablement at Smartsheet.
Then, prepare consistent messaging and terminology to communicate the methodology across the organization. Creating a universal language is essential for keeping this process formal, consistent, and effective, and can be a key way to inspire enthusiasm for the methodology among reps.
Successful implementation is no small task and requires significant change management. Establish a realistic timeline at the beginning of the process to organize each step and keep it moving forward.
“Understand that it typically takes at least six months to launch a sales methodology – often longer,” said Cotton. “Be cognizant of when is a good and bad time to roll out a sales methodology.”
With a solid plan that includes thoughtful timing and communication that emphasizes how the change will benefit sales reps, sales enablement practitioners can ensure a smooth foundation is in place to build out a new methodology across the organization.
2. Secure Buy-In and Drive Adoption
Successful implementation starts at the top. To secure buy-in from the executive leaders, clearly communicate what the sales methodology is and specific ways that it will add value and enhance the bottom-line of the organization.
As part of that, quantify the exact return on investment leaders can expect as a result of the sales methodology. This will also be a core selling point to gain buy-in from the rest of the organization, as it communicates why the change is impactful for the business.
“It’s not inexpensive to make that commitment to an actual methodology, so it was really important that I was able to quantify the value of it to our business — what it was going to do, bottom-line, for us,” said Nicola Bain, global sales enablement director at Infovista.
Once the executive leaders are committed, invite them in to help champion the process by providing training to them first. Then, deploy training at the next level of upper management, and continue this process layer by layer across all departments and sales teams until each stakeholder has a clear understanding of the new mindset. This tiered rollout will help drive adoption because it encourages reinforcement of the methodology’s principles from senior leaders, managers, and peers.
“The methodology will not get off the ground if leadership is not bought in and doesn’t understand what the methodology is,” said Clark. “And in order for the methodology to be used every day and top of mind, you have to have the managers able to speak to it, to coach to it, to drive the utilization of it through their teams.”
It is important to remember that securing buy-in and driving adoption are not one-time events, but an ongoing process. To maintain support, set metrics for success and validate that the methodology is producing the desired results. If the methodology in place is not providing the ROI defined with the executive team after implementation, do not be afraid to reevaluate and make changes as needed.
3. Embed the Methodology Across the Entire Organization
The goal of a sales methodology is to outline a formal framework that translates to sales behaviors that effectively engage buyers. But beyond the sales organization, methodologies should also be applied to every other business function and how those teams approach their roles. At the end of the day, every corner of an organization should be operating with the customer at the center of their activities, and concentrating everyone’s focus around a methodology formalizes that process company-wide.
“A strong sales methodology is not just for the sales organization,” said Bain. “It is the whole organization, from the executive committee, research and development, product management. Everybody needs to understand the methodology for the value proposition that our solution delivers.”
Also, when the entire organization operates with a methodology, sales enablement will have clearer insight into sales efficiency and effectiveness. This will allow practitioners to be more proactive about identifying areas in the business that can be improved to provide more value.
In today’s business landscape, organizational alignment is essential for successful change management of major initiatives like implementing a new sales methodology.
By developing a common mindset through a sales methodology, companies provide a roadmap to guide behavior and prepare reps for success in their day-to-day activities. Whatever the organization’s main goals are, sales methodologies that are aligned to company priorities, supported by stakeholders, and integrated as a unified mindset across the organization are crucial ingredients for modern business success.