The sales industry is shrouded in stereotypes. Many outsiders perceive sales to be a world of fast-talking glamour – all sharp suits and shiny smiles.
But those on the inside know that there’s much more to sales than charisma and personality. Successful salespeople are backed by something far less glamorous: a sales process and sales methodologies.
The ‘what’ and the ‘how’
When applied together, these two forces make a formidable match. The sales process is like the glue that holds everything together. It’s ‘what you do’ – a clear, step-by-step guide to making sales, from opening to closing. Sales methodologies, on the other hand, are the ‘how’. In other words, the techniques that you use throughout the sales process.
SalesStar Founder and Group CEO Paul O’Donohue compares the sales process to the Olympic high jump event.
“The process for the high jump is to run and jump over the bar, without knocking the bar over – and the highest jump wins,” says Paul.
“The methodology, on the other hand, has varied over the years. For example, the ‘scissor jump’, ‘straddle’, and ‘western roll’. The most effective methodology to-date is the ‘fosbury flop’.”
As with high jump techniques, sales methodologies have also changed over the years. Features and benefits selling, relationship selling, solutions selling, consultative selling, customer centric selling, strategic selling, insight selling—the list goes on. There are hundreds of techniques you can use to sell a product or service.
Paul says that every business will implement different sales methodologies, depending on their offering.
“Choosing the most effective sales methodology will come down to factors such as the type of industry you operate in, the complexity of the sale, and what your sales manager have a preference towards,” he explains.
“At SalesStar, we favour STAR consultative selling for B2B selling, as it focuses on making your clients more profitable, and in turn forces you to ask better questions.”
Why you need both
One mistake sales leaders make is focusing too much on sales methodologies without considering the important role of the sales process. In order for the methodologies to work, the sales process must come first. Think of it as the backbone of your entire sales strategy.
“Developing your sales process is a key step in developing your strategic capability,” says SalesStar Global Head of Learning, Alex Chan.
“So develop one straight away (if you haven’t got one already) and incorporate your sales methodologies. What’s more, once you have developed one, use it. Make sure you hold staff accountable to it, and the results will amaze you.”