How do you know if your sales methodology needs a tune up?

How can you tell if your sales process is in need of improvement, or if stalled growth is simply a result of the challenging economy?

The sales function and methodologies tend to be poorly understood across most companies. Therefore, companies often focus on measuring easily understood items such as activity and transactions, rather than measuring strategy and methodology, which require expertise and training to be well understood.

However, in most cases a methodology tune-up will result in far bigger performance improvements than pushing the activity throttle. Remember the old saying, “What gets optimized is what gets measured”? Do you want to optimize activity and short-term results? Or, do you want to optimize your competitive strength and sustainable results?

Focusing on activity and short-term results is like driving a race car on worn-out tires. The car uses just as much gas, but doesn’t yield very good results. In fact, it could blow a tire and lose the whole race. Conversely, making regular pit-stops to tune-up the performance keeps the car in the race and operating at peak performance.

Similarly, making some simple changes to a company’s sales methodology can have profound impact on a company’s ability to generate consistent revenue and profit growth.

Relic of the Past?

Is your sales methodology a finely tune race car engine? Or, is it a relic of the past?

Here are some signs that it needs a tune-up.

1) Shared Process.

Is there a common sales process that is shared across the sales, marketing, and delivery organizations? Or, are the sales processes, ad hoc, not widely understood, or inconsistently followed?

2) Transaction Value.

Are salespeople focused on transaction value, rather than the company’s strategic position in their accounts?  If salespeople are operating tactically to close orders, rather than strategically to find and deliver high value, they will not be maximizing the revenue opportunity for your company.

3) Discounting.

Are sales people more comfortable discounting than establishing high value? Do your salespeople complain about prices being too high? Or, too low?  Salespeople who see the opportunities for change leadership see that the value to the customer is far greater than the one-size-fits-all price list and often feel that money is being left on the table.

4) Competition.

Does your business have many competitors that are constantly putting pressure on pricing? Studies have shown that pricing most often ranks very low on the buyer’s priority list. Change-centric salespeople focus on the higher priorities that drive value and they are not subject to the same pricing pressures.

5) Executive Access.

Do your salespeople have difficulty getting access to key executives and expanding your business into more strategic projects? Key executives delegate the solving of problems to their teams, so approaching them with solutions to problems will only result in being referred to a member of their staff. To establish relationships with high-level executives, salespeople must add high value; by addressing the strategic challenges facing the executive.

6) Implementation.

Are your sales and delivery organizations typically engaged at the solution implementation stage, rather than problem definition stage? By the time the customer has defined the problem and is requesting solution proposals, s/he has already formed a vision for the ideal solution and is now looking for the best fit at the lowest price. Change leaders foresee the challenges facing the customer and help the customer drive the changes needed to address them, thereby setting themselves far ahead of the competition.

7) Catch-up.

Are your salespeople constantly scrambling at the end of the quarter to find revenue and pull their pipelines from future quarters? This is the classic sign of an organization operating in a short-term, transactional mode. Operating in this manner, constantly playing catch-up, prevents salespeople from pro actively engaging customers to deliver higher value – and higher revenues.

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