The difference between a Sales Process and a Sales Methodology can be confusing. Not knowing the difference can be costly. One of our clients made a considerable investment in a Methodology, only to discover that it was not effective because there was no Process to support it. To avoid making a similar expensive mistake, here is a quick overview of the basics and some tips for taking action.
What is a Sales Process?
A Sales Process is a flow and it is ‘brand-free.’ It includes the following 10 elements:
It is usually customized to reflect the unique selling environment, organizational structure, sales channels, and customer segments.
Stages are well-defined; each of which usually has a name like ‘Evaluate Options’ or ‘Identify Requirements’.
Each stage has its own buyer-related exit criteria that capture the buyer-specific actions that indicate a deal has moved from one stage to the next.
Specific steps for each stage are clearly defined.
An automation tool is used to track progress from one stage to the next with the goal of reducing cycle time and increasing the win/close rate.
A pipeline of opportunities by stage is produced; the individual opportunities can be connected to the sales forecast.
Role-specific guidance directs the activities of the rep, the manager and the pre-sales support along with any others involved in the process; everyone knows what to do.
Some form of Lead Management process is integrated with the sales process; it provides qualified Leads and manages them to become sales Opportunities.
Some form of Implementation / Account Management is integrated with the sales process; it receives the output from the sales process: a new deal to be executed or relationship to be managed.
The sales organization ‘owns’ the process and can improve and change it over time without concern for licensing or 3rd party training.
Methodologies are usually thematic in nature, often branded by an individual. Examples include Neil Rackham’s SPIN® Selling, Michael Bosworth’s Solution Selling®, Miller-Heiman’s Conceptual Selling®, or Jill Konrath’s SNAP Selling.
Job aids, templates and tools are used to support and execute the selling technique.
These methodologies are sold based on a fee charged for the intellectual property combined with a per-person per-year charge for training and license fees.
Some sales methodologies boast automation modules within CRM applications, but they lack the discipline of a structure. Results will not be predictable or repeatable. Even more important, there is no measurement.
Why should you care about the Difference?
A sales methodology requires the framework of a process. Without it, even the best tools and techniques will not matter for much. Unlike ‘out-of-the-box’ methodology training, it takes time to design a sales process that is mapped to the buying process. And the effectiveness is dramatically improved if it is embedded into a CRM system. This, of course can take time for IT to implement. It takes longer to see the benefits of a sales process than a methodology training program. However, the impact of a sales process is greater and, more importantly, a process can be improved over time.
If you already have a Sales Process, ensure that it reflects the 10 characteristics above
If you already have a Sales Methodology determine if it is generating these same 10 characteristics. If not, consider implementing a custom Sales Process
If you have any comments about your experiences with Process and Methodology that work well together, please comment below. Implemented properly, a strong sales process produces a clear competitive advantage.
For more ideas on how to elevate your sales process and your organization to world-class performance, click on the link below.
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