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Your Sales Methodology: Retain It, Repair It, or Replace It
By Dave Stein, CEO, ES Research Group

Just the phrase "sales methodology" scares many sales reps-sometimes for good reason...

For most successful companies, consistent revenue delivery is in part dependent on a well-founded and institutionalized selling methodology-a set of processes, procedures and tools that provide the sales organization with what they need to convert qualified prospects to customers.  Today, with relentless competition, savvy buyers, and information about your offerings readily available on the Internet, successful selling is the result of staying close to a proven path rather than "winging-it," which is still the de facto standard for far too many selling organizations.

Just the phrase "sales methodology" scares many sales reps-sometimes for good reason. I've seen reps hobbled by bureaucratic burdens placed upon them by well-meaning executives.  Other reps have lost weeks of selling time in training classes that contributed nothing to their productivity.  It takes strong leadership for a sales organization to know that their adoption of a methodology will enable them to win more business.

What's your first step?  Assess your situation.  Perhaps you don't have a methodology in place.  Maybe you did, but it may have fallen out of use, leaving your reps to figure things out for themselves.  Whether you are selling commodity products over the telephone or professional services to Fortune 500 CEOs, your reps need a clearly defined path to achieve their mission.  Every quarter that you wait before taking action will be another quarter's revenues at risk.  You need a methodology that will be the foundation for driving revenue now and supporting growth into the future.

Sales managers that have invested in sales methodology consulting and training and are not able to tie results directly to increased revenue need to know why.  Do the processes that were installed still fit your business requirements?  If not, that would be a reason to repair your approach.  Have many of the people originally trained left your company?  In that case, assuming the processes are still relevant to achieving your objectives, recommit to the methodology and invest in a new round of training and the strategic coaching that will support its ongoing use.

Unfortunately some companies realize that the training and consulting they invested in would not have gotten the job done under any circumstance.  Perhaps a thorough requirements definition wasn't done or the methodology provider wasn't able to deliver what was needed.  Maybe the methodology was better suited to a complex sale and yours is a relatively simple one.  This total breakdown is the worst case scenario, and requires immediate action.  An objective assessment will have identified the gaps between what you have and what you need.  These should be the foundation of a requirements definition that will enable you to find the right company to get you back on track and then provide you with the processes, procedures, and tools that will put you out in front, where you need to be.

It is critically important for every salesperson to have a methodology to depend on that will guide and support them down the proven path to a sale.  If your company doesn't have one, acquire one.  If the one you have is broken, repair it or replace it.

Dave Stein, after 25 years in sales leadership positions and delivering his own sales training and consulting worldwide, founded ES Research Inc. ESR offers independent, authoritative advice on Sales Training and Consulting and the Companies that provide it through weekly briefs, in-depth reports, online seminars and advisory services. For more information go to or call 508.313.9585

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