A sales methodology is a framework that outlines how your sellers approach each phase of the sales process. While a sales process maps out a sequence of stages required for success, a sales methodology introduces discipline through a system of principles and best practices that translate into seller actions.
Sales methodology explains the “how” and the “what” behind the process, whether it’s preparing for a sales call, analyzing an opportunity, or upselling a large account. It connects the process to your customers’ needs and provides a roadmap for how to navigate each stage.
To be effective, your organization’s sales methodology must be applied consistently and reinforced regularly. It must be supported by a formalized process and a universal language that guides your organization’s sales activities. In practice, a sales methodology equips your sales team with a practical, repeatable, scalable framework for sales success.
Sellers have always used formal and informal systems to improve win rates. Before many of today’s sales training programs became popular, methodologies often focused on manipulative selling techniques that salespeople counted on to close deals. From snake oil selling to high-pressure sales practices, these methodologies gave individual sellers effective tactics, but they didn’t serve the customer or the sales organization.
The first major development in professional sales methodology happened in the 1970s, when Xerox developed Professional Selling Skills® (PSS), a framework that empowered its sales force to win deals in an increasingly competitive copier sales environment. With PSS, Xerox created a methodology that introduced a “needs satisfaction” approach to sales.
An even more significant innovation occurred in 1985 when sales consultants Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman released the book “Strategic Selling.” Strategic Selling® expanded on the needs satisfaction approach of PSS, equipping sales teams with a proven methodology for managing complex sales processes.
In addition to sidelining manipulative sales tactics and a sales mentality rooted in simply getting the order, Strategic Selling® transformed sales and popularized concepts like the “win-win” approach so common in successful organizations today.
Korn Ferry now owns both of those sales training solutions that defined the modern approach to selling. Over the years, Korn Ferry added many of the best sales training solutions on the market to its portfolio, as can be seen on our sales training page.
Since 1985, Strategic Selling® has been recognized as one of the industry’s most effective sales methodologies. Although other approaches, like Conceptual Selling® and LAMP®, are also widely adopted methodologies, Strategic Selling® with Perspective continues to be one of the industry’s most revolutionary approaches to solution selling.
Designed to help organizations manage complex sales processes involving multiple decision makers, Strategic Selling® with Perspective gives sales organizations a comprehensive strategy to win large sales opportunities. The program provides an action plan to successfully sell solutions that require approval from multiple decision makers in the customer’s organization, covering topics such as identifying the economic buyer, evaluating the likelihood of success, and assessing your competitive position. The addition of perspective to the methodology encourages sellers to add value to the sales process by bringing a point of view that helps customers achieve their business objectives.
At the center of the Strategic Selling® with Perspective methodology is the industry’s iconic Blue Sheet, a tool that guides sales professionals through action planning for a sale. The effectiveness of the Blue Sheet hinges on its ability to foster collaboration and sales coaching. In effect, the Blue Sheet supports the organization’s sales methodology by eliminating the “lone wolf” selling mentality and helping teams execute a predictable, repeatable sales process.
Methodology is the backbone of successful sales organizations. It provides sales reps and managers with a repeatable, scalable, and predictable way of operating that ultimately determines the organization’s ability to achieve process maturity and improve win rates.
In today’s global business climate, it is simply impossible to improve your organization’s sales capabilities without a consistent methodology that delivers several important benefits to sales reps and managers, including:
Sales methodologies must constantly adapt to the needs of customers and sellers in an increasingly sophisticated global marketplace. Key trends that will shape the future of sales methodology include:
Learn more about why a proven sales methodology is a roadmap to success.
The term “sales methodology” refers to a system of principles and best practices that sales organizations use to achieve a repeatable, scalable, and predictable way of operating. In essence, sales methodology gives your organization a framework for selling.
All sales organizations require a methodology to improve their sales capabilities. Without a proven methodology, it’s impossible to win consistently and predictably, especially in today’s rapidly changing global marketplace.
No, all sales methodologies are not the same. There’s a big difference between a proven sales methodology that organizations have relied on for more than 40 years (like Strategic Selling®) and less robust methodologies that have only been around for a few years. Many selling fads have come and gone over the years, so it’s important to choose a methodology that has proven successful over decades of business changes and industry disruption.
Sales professionals use a range of technologies to execute their methodologies. However, sales methodology isn’t a solution or technology—it’s a framework that regulates all of the organization’s selling activities. Going forward, the best sales methodologies will use data and analytics to suggest specific actions your sales team can take to improve the odds of a sale.
A sound sales methodology works alongside a formal sales process and a universal language that directs your company’s sales activities. If you’re missing any of these elements, it’s unlikely that your methodology will deliver optimal sales improvement. But the best way to gauge the effectiveness of any methodology is to evaluate the results it has achieved for other organizations.