I wrote this article on the difference between Sales Process and Sales Methodology and this article on how Sales Models are different from Process and Methodology.

Do you remember algebra?  One such formula may have read like the following: 4 is to 1 as x is to 3.  It would have looked like the following image.

Let's use Algebra to get a better handle on sales methodology and where it fits in the grand scheme of things.  Consider the following formula:

Sports is to Selling as Baseball is to Consultative Selling as Pitching and Defense are to Baseline Selling.

Sports and Selling are both professional activities.  Baseball and Consultative Selling further define the activities with baseball answering the question as to which sport, and consultative answering the question as to which type of selling.

Pitching and Defense are one of many possible methodologies used in baseball as a strategy to win games.  Baseline Selling is the methodology which I recommend in selling as a strategy to win more sales.

Baseline Selling is also a sales process, meaning it has stages, each with a series of steps, milestones and tasks which, if followed according to its design, provide significantly greater odds of repeatable success.  You can use this free tool to measure the effectiveness of your existing sales process.

One of the milestones of the second stage (2nd Base) of Baseline Selling is what I call SOB Quality or, using a baseball term, Speed on the Bases.  I recorded a very short video which explains SOB Quality and how it differentiates your salespeople from the competition.

Dennis Connelly, who writes the Living Sales Excellence Blog, was recently on the phone with a lumber salesperson named Taylor Tankersley.  If you follow baseball, you would know that Taylor is a former Miami Marlins pitcher.  Dennis explained the sales version of SOB Quality to Taylor and had the following interchange:

Dennis: When you were on the mound and there was a guy with great speed on the bases, what were you thinking?

Taylor: I paid more attention to him than anyone else.

Don't you want your prospects giving all of their attention to your salespeople?  Contact me to learn if they have the ability to develop SOB Quality!

I was asked to comment on an article called The End of Solution Selling, which appeared in Harvard Business Review.  The article was generally right on, but it also included several things that irritated me enough to question them and the article.

"The End of Traditional Solution Selling" - The ineffective selling model described by the authors is more aligned with transactional selling than solution selling.  The real issue is that the authors were describing ineffective salespeople who, because of their ineffectiveness when attempting to use solution selling, have sales cycles that are more transactional, an approach that simply doesn't work anymore.

"Reps" - It was difficult for me to accept the authors' use of the word "reps" 81 agonizing times.  They were writing about solution selling being dead and how successful reps use "insight selling".  We don't call salespeople "reps" anymore unless they are independent manufacturers' reps.  They referred to solution selling as a methodology from the 80's, but the term "rep" probably came into use right after the term salesman - probably back in the 50's!

Mobilizers - The article discussed the different people inside an organization who used to coach salespeople on how to get the business.  The authors wrote that a successful salesperson would now coach these people on how to get the company to buy from them.  The authors settled on the term "mobilizers" to refer to a group of skeptics, go-getters and teachers with whom salespeople should align themselves.  I wrote an article about this around 4 years ago and believe it's a much better approach to utilizing people inside the prospect's organization.

Major Accounts - As usual, this article is based on research of big company sales forces, selling to other big companies, and has little to do with what most sales forces look like or face.  As a matter of fact, our data on 600,000 salespeople and 8,500 sales forces, significantly larger and more comprehensive than the Corporate Executive Board research data, shows that big company salespeople are among the least effective salespeople anywhere.  They aren't underdogs, they have the welcome mat laid out for them, have the resources to heavily discount the deal to buy the business, and don't face the resistance of smaller, newer or more expensive competition.

Summary - My first take away from this article is that the "superstars" (the best of all big company, ineffective salespeople) are simply selling the way that modern day salespeople are being taught to sell.  I didn't read anything in that article that was different, controversial, eye-opening or even new.  Everything about which they wrote was simply well-executed consultative selling strategies and tactics and any sales training company worth its fees will teach their own version of that.  Some will do it a lot better than others.

My final take away from this article is to reinforce this warning, which I issued just two months ago.  If your salespeople aren't effectively utilizing a consultative sales model, you must move to the 2nd decade of the 21st Century or you will continue to climb an uphill battle to win your share of new business.

If you have been reading my Blog for a while you know that there is more to selling than just utilizing skills to execute the sales process, sales model, and sales methodology.  The big, hidden, 600 pound gorilla in all this is the combination of hidden weaknesses that prevent salespeople from executing.

Objective Management Group identifies five big ones and a dozen or so additional weaknesses that cause problems for salespeople.  Most salespeople have at least 3 of the big ones and average a total of 9 weaknesses all together.

Sadly, most sales training and sales trainers are unable to help salespeople overcome these weaknesses because their focus is primarly the sales skills and methodology that they teach.  That puts tremendous pressure on sales managers who are simply not equipped to help salespeople overcome things like:

• Need for Approval (prevents them from asking lots of good, tough, timely questions)
• Non Supportive Buy Cycle (causes them to empathize with stalls, put-offs and objections)
• Self-Limting Record Collection (negative self-talk that sobotages sales outcomes)
• Uncomfortable Talking about Money (not able to have an in-depth financial discussion)
• Tendency to Become Emotional (temporary panic when things don't go as planned)
• Difficulty Recovering from Rejection (takes too long to get back on the horse)
• Being Too Trusting of What Prospects Say (they believe the stalls and put-offs)
• Not Being Goal Orientated (they lack purpose and incentive)
• many more
Is there anything you can do?
Yes, there is.  Have you heard of SalesMind?
You can have your salespeople work with the SalesMind CD. It helps them overcome these weaknesses - and more - through subliminal programming.  Even better?  It works!  I've been using SalesMind with salespeople for years and it always does the trick.
It works like magic, it works quickly (usually within 3 weeks) and effortlessly.  Your salespeople simply put the CD in the computer, watch the screen, and listen to the audio (only one program at a time) twice daily for 21 days.  And poof.  The weakness is gone.  Salesmind sells for just \$99.
If you are interested in getting SalesMind for your and/or your salespeople you can email me.

In their latest study (thanks to Charlie for sending it to me) - Accenture reported on the 2000 companies worldwide that CSO Insights surveyed. I identified some very interesting findings and if there was a big surprise it was that nothing surprised me!  In fact, it supports everything I've written about here for the past 5 years.  Consider the following:

The authors categorized it as good news that 61.5% of sales reps reached quota - the highest level in 4 years!  Good news?  Would it be good news if you could account for 61.5% of your money?

How about this for confusion: The #1 initiative for sales leaders is to increase revenue, yet increasing sales effectiveness is higher on the initiatives list than capturing new accounts or more effective upselling.  While I am overjoyed that increasing sales effectiveness was #2 on the list, 68% said that they were happy with the amount of sales and other training their reps were receiving. What's worse, is that on the list of sales effectiveness initiatives, revising rep hiring strategies is dead last. Yet I have witnessed many incredible improvements in sales force effectiveness because of a change in the way companies hire sales reps! If companies don't change the training they provide and don't change the way they hire salespeople, how will they change effectiveness and increase revenue?  Can you understand that thinking?

Wait - there's more.

50% are not using assessments in their hiring process - there's a news flash for you. However, of the other 50% that do, 80% of them reported that assessments improved their hiring success rates.  Results showed that using "scientific profiling" provided more consistent results, lowers attrition and improves the number of reps making quota. You can be sure that the 20% who aren't seeing an impact aren't using the right assessments.

That won't surprise my regular readers and clients that use our (Objective Management Group / OMG's) highly customizable and predictive sales candidate assessments. OMG was nominated for Top Sales Assessment Tool in this year's Top Sales & Marketing Awards event.  If you use already use them, you know and you can vote for OMG here. If you don't already use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments, you can begin a Free 72-hour trial by clicking here.  If you're interested in reading more, you can check out my series of articles that compare assessments.

There's more...

50% said they need to improve their sales process and methodology.  It's about time!  Half of you are getting it...The study said that organizations achieve better results by focusing on process and methodology first and then on implementing the technology to support specific objectives.  Read my article on Sales Process and Methodology.  Then answer these questions about your Sales Process.  Read my article about sales process as a sales management competency. And finally, read my article about sales models.

What this and other studies show, is that what people want, what people need and and the initiatives they often establish are not in alignment.  When it comes to the sales force and its ability to increase your revenue - the number one initiative in the study - there is one proven way to identify what needs to be done in your particular company.  Evaluate your sales force and identify exactly what the most important steps are that you must take in the next 12 months.

Today I worked with a group of salespeople from different companies and when I asked how many of them followed a formal sales process only 2 people raised their hands.  That's even worse than Objective Management Group's statistics about sales process.  The statistics show that 91% of the salespeople assessed to date did not have/follow a structured sales process.  And the two who did raise their hand?  They claimed that their process was 20 steps!  Who can remember that?

A bigger issue is that most people don't understand the difference between sales process and sales methodology.

A customized, optimized, formal sales process includes the sequence of steps, to-do's, milestones and goals that must be achieved during a sales cycle.

A sales methodology is the approach one takes to execute those steps.

For instance, using a few well-known companies and brands:

• Huthwaithe's SPIN Selling is a methodology.
• Miller-Heiman's Strategic Selling is a methodology.
• Kurlan's Baseline Selling has both a process and a methodology.
• Sandler Training is a methodology.

Another way of looking at this is to use construction or engineering where the blueprint represents the strategy.  The particular steps that each engineer or contractor follows to execute their part of that blueprint is their process.  And I promise, the process is not a seat of the pants, wing it, trial and error approach.  "Hey, let's skip the forms on this foundation and pour the concrete without them - it might be faster that way!"  Or, "Let's skip the moldings because these people are in a hurry and they might not notice.  Let's just plaster to the edge of the windows and doors!"

Then each of those contractors has a methodology or approach, the way electricians run and install wiring and connect them to the power source, outlets and switches; the way plumbers cut, solder and install piping; the way back-hoe operators excavate and finish the property, the way the plasterers prepare and plaster the walls and ceilings. In each of those cases, they have a proven method to get the job completed correctly each time.

So here are some questions for you to answer about your sales force as it relates to process:

• Is there a sales process?
• Has it been customized?
• Has it been formalized and structured?
• Has it been optimized?
• Is it legacy?
• Does everyone speak the language of your process?
• Is it referenced as a context for coaching sessions?
• Can your salespeople identify where they are by simply naming a step?
• Is it integrated into your CRM software?
• Is it integrated with your pipeline?
• Is the pipeline routinely reviewed and restaged according to the criteria for each step of the process?

If you can't answer yes to all of those questions, you aren't yet in a position to shorten your sales cycle, improve the effectiveness of your coaching and accelerate your revenue growth.

You know all about reverse engineering, right?  The Chinese do...that's how they've copied all of the products that others have created and sold them into the mass market, gray and black markets too.

Technology companies tend to be quite good at reverse engineering. How else can you explain one company's game-changing leap in capabilities, and the short time it takes for their competitors to introduce similar, if not the identical capabilities?

Can you reverse engineer your sales calls?

OTHER THAN THE PART OF YOUR SALES CALL THAT INVOLVES PRESENTING, could you break down and explain, each step, strategy, tactic, question, response and milestone met, in the order they occurred, why they were chosen, and the resulting reaction of each occurrence, AFTER you've completed an entire sales cycle?

If you can, congratulations.  If you can't, it means the following:

• You don't have a formal, structured, optimized sales process or, if you do, you don't follow it very consistently;
• You are so involved in your sales call that you aren't in control of what you are doing, when and why;
• You tend to wing it;
• Whatever you are doing is not repeatable or scalable;
• You can't teach it;
• It's not indicative - you can't say, "if you follow these exact steps, reach these exact milestones, ask these specific questions, utilize these specific strategies and tactics and do so in this particular order you will get the business 75% of the time".

Try to reverse engineer your last complete sales cycle and let me know what happens when you do...

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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