By Ryan Warren, Vice President of Marketing
Every aspect of the business needs a standard methodology, but nothing requires an official set of procedures more than sales. With generating revenue being central to the business' success, sales reps need a specific process to follow to optimize their interactions with clients. Even if your team already uses a set sales methodology, if it's not focused on gathering and employing customer intelligence, you're not going to see all of the sales opportunities you could be. Creating a customer-focused procedure that is standard to your team can boost your sales and improve client relationships.
Understanding What "Sales Methodology" Means
According to sales training firm Richardson, your team should think of sales methodology as "the system a sales organization follows to win business." Now, this can include many things, such as documenting the process of pitching a sale, to the tools the team uses to conduct customer intelligence, but for sales teams to be successful, each aspect of the methodology it uses should be client-centered.
Yet it's much easier to develop a customer-focused sales methodology than it is to alter an existing one. However, teams can revamp their standard procedures by taking a look at each aspect of the selling process. Does the first contact with the client focus on how your team can help them, or on what their issues are? If you can't answer that question with a client-centered answer, it may be time for you to overhaul your outdated sales methodology.
Steps that Work
According to Salesforce, the Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe (BANT) methodology is no longer applicable to today's customers. They say BANT doesn't work anymore because 70% of all purchasing decisions are made before the sales rep is even present.
- Pain: Identify the customer's challenges
- Unique selling proposition: Determine your product's unique selling point
- Compelling event: Understand what is driving your customers to you
- Champion: Designate a mid- to senior-level employee who approves your company's strategies
- Key players: Examine which workers will interact with the client
- Aligned purchasing process: Provide options for budget-tight clients
Suster calls this process PUCCKA. Each of these steps answers part of the customer's question, "why should I buy from you?" Clients are continually focused on what you can do for them, so your entire sales methodology should be compelling your whole client contact team—including those in customer service—to always be interacting with clients in a regulated method that is centered on their needs.
The Key: Gathering Customer Intelligence
According to Suster, outdated sales methodologies are the biggest reason most sales don't close; many don't focus on providing a solution to client needs. A customer-centered methodology is essential to today's sales team, and every procedure relies on one main tactic: how you gather insight into your customers and their market.
With a customer insights tool that allows you to research your client's markets, you're able to identify what is driving your customers to seek out a solution and determine the right champion for the sales team. Conducting customer intelligence allows key players in the sales process—most notably, the reps—to understand how to interact with the client and even identify if there is leeway in pricing. You're able to understand the challenges they are currently facing—and may face in the future—and develop a unique selling proposition centered around that information.