Why Doesn't Sales Methodology Get More Attention?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 @ 04:01 AM

conversationAccording to FreeDictionary.com, the original definition of Methodology is, "the theoretical analysis of the methods appropriate to a field of study or to the body of methods and principles particular to a branch of knowledge."  Over time, the definition has changed and one present day version is, "A body of practices, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline."

I've written about Sales Methodology before.  One of my favorites (at least the title) was Sales Process is to Religion as Sales Methodology is to Prayer.  Another Sales Methodology article that I wrote was, Baseball's Huge Impact on Sales Performance.  This also had a math equation within it: Sports is to Selling as Baseball is to Consultative Selling as Pitching and Defense are to Baseline Selling.

If a modern-day sales process is milestone-centric (key outcomes that must be achieved during a sales cycle), then a modern-day sales methodology must support those milestones.

Let's discuss a few possibilities.

As sales processes go, the steps could be as simple as the following:

  1. Appointment
  2. Demo
  3. Qualification                      
  4. Proposal
  5. Close

Watch Dennis Connelly's 3-minute video on this topic:

 

 

The methodology required to convert that process to a productive and effective conversation would be challenging to say the least.  It's safe to assume that when a company goes to market with such a simple sales process, there isn't a methodology to drive the conversation.  To be sure, the key in this process is the demo and the qualification is probably equally simple.  I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's really two questions around decision-making and timeline.

I once helped a company whose sales process was the opposite of too simple.  It was so complicated that none of their salespeople could remember all the steps!  It went like this:

  1. Inventory of existing components
  2. Size of components
  3. Total capacity
  4. Current usage to capacity
  5. # Users
  6. Reporting Structure
  7. Age of equipment
  8. Budget
  9. Current Vendor
  10. Current Services Provided
  11. Current Fees Paid
  12. Needs Analysis
  13. Estimated of Value of the Opportunity
  14. Technical Fit
  15. Technical Teams Meet
  16. Specifications
  17. Timeline
  18. Credit Worthiness
  19. Trial
  20. Proposal
  21. Negotiation
  22. Contract
  23. Close
  24. Installation
  25. Negotiation
  26. Invoice

This is a horribly designed sales process!  Watch Chris Mott's 1-minute video on this topic:

I will resist going down the sales process path and stick to our discussion of sales methodology.

What methodology would turn that process into a productive and effective conversation?  In a best-case scenario, a salesperson would turn this into 50 questions that a prospect will not want to answer because the prospects don't have the slightest reason to spend their time answering all of these qualifying questions!  Indeed, it would take a very sophisticated methodology to turn this sales process into a conversation.

At this point, you should begin to see two clear themes:

  1. Sales Methodology is all about the conversation between the salesperson and the prospect.  It's how to make it a conversation, how to make the conversation mutually productive and how to guide that conversation to the next milestone.
  2. Sales Methodology and Sales Process are intertwined.  One is not a substitute for the other and one will not work very well without the other.  

    Salespeople that sell by the seat of their pants? - a methodology without a process - Watch my 1-minute video on this topic.

    Salespeople that move from question to question to question? - a process without a methodology - Watch Frank Belzer's 1-minute video on this topic.

[Last week, Dennis Connelly wrote a good article on another important conversation, the one between the sales manager and the salesperson.  And Frank Belzer wrote an important article on the Architecture of a Sales Force.]

This brings me to my original question, "Why doesn't sales methodology get more attention from authors, writers and bloggers, and why does sales process get most of the coverage?" 

In my opinion, it's an educational problem.  Unless executives are able to differentiate between process and methodology, they can't know that one is almost always missing!  If you've been exposed to one of these trainings (SPIN, Sandler, Solution Selling and Strategic Selling), then you know that they're all good.  You also know that there's just something missing!  They are methodologies without processes (even though they might tell you otherwise). 

In other cases, you're getting processes that lack methodologies.  That's why, when I wrote Baseline Selling, I made sure that it had the best of sales process and the best of sales methodology.  It's both, wrapped up in a single title.

Sales Methodology is extremely important today.  Without it, your salespeople lack the ability to have consistent conversations.  Without the right methodology, those conversations may not be as effective or productive as either party would like.

Join me and a panel of sales experts for a powerful one-hour webinar that will address this subject on February 5 when we discuss, "Leading Your Ideal Sales Force - Part 1" at 11 AM Eastern Time.

Image credit: huntstock / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales methodology, sales conversation

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,700 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2017 - Article/Post - Gold
 Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2017 - Assessment Tool - Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

2018 Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs Widget

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader