Build a world-class customer experience in 3 steps
Sales organizations should be consistent in every channel, tailor their messaging, and structure sales calls to create a world-class customer experience.
In Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk’s book, Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force, research defines and distinguishes 3 key sales concepts that our industry tends to use interchangeably.
A sales process is the set of sequenced activities for finding and closing business. It defines terms and transition criteria (e.g., What is a qualified lead? What evidence is required to move an opportunity to closed or won? What is forecast and at what weighting?). Ideally, sales processes should outline what decisions and commitments customers are making within each stage.
In our recent Korn Ferry research study, 31% of sales organizations told us that they either have a random sales process or an informal one (meaning that it’s defined but not reinforced or always used).
Such a process might be part of onboarding training or built into your CRM, but it may not reflect the actual progression of an opportunity or include enough detail to make accurate staging decisions, align forecasting models, validate the need for resourcing and the like. As a result, the sales organization runs inefficiently, and the cost of sales escalates.
Sales methodologies connect the sales process to the customer’s path by outlining what needs to be done in each phase of the process and specifically how and why to do it. For example, sales methodologies impart sales call preparation, methods for identifying and engaging decision makers, techniques for opportunity analyses and account planning approaches.
Recent Korn Ferry research tells us that 37% of sales organizations said that they were using a random or informal sales methodology.
If an organization misses the “how to,” sellers do not effectively move opportunities from one stage in a sales process to the next. They chase opportunities longer than necessary, lose opportunities to unanticipated competitors and miss opportunities to maximize deal potential — often settling for superficial and easier-to-close solutions.
Selling skills are the capabilities needed to follow the processes and apply the methodologies successfully. These include questioning, negotiating, listening, social selling, delivering presentations, resolving concerns and uncovering latent needs.
Skills bring the methodology to life. Too often, sales organizations rely on hiring profiles and assume that if they hire sellers with a customer orientation, those sellers will somehow find a way to succeed. In actuality, sending a “natural” presenter through presentation skills training produces a much better result than using training to fill in gaps for a seller who is not predisposed to present well. Even the “naturals” need skills training.
As the book summarizes, “Process defines the steps; methodology provides the what, why and how; and skills allow sales professionals to follow the steps and the methodologies successfully.”
It doesn’t matter whether you agree with these specific definitions or whether your salespeople can draw a clear distinction among them. It isn’t important that you use the word “methodology”. But it is important that salespeople are honing, mastering and leveraging all three in their craft. If you’re missing one, then you’re missing part of the equation for being a world-class organization.
We often point to having a customer-orientation, supporting a customer’s journey and being customer-centric as guideposts for sales. But those are just words and concepts.
Truly building your sales organization around your customers means formally mapping (and dynamically adapting) your sales process against the customer’s path, then deploying a methodology to make the connection between the sales process and the path and finally mastering the skills needed to execute the methodology.
All that can be seamless in the eyes of salespeople, all part of the “Acme Co. way of selling” or spelled out in one comprehensive playbook. But behind the scenes, it’s important that those architecting the sales organization understand the difference and ensure that all three critical elements are covered.
For more information on the sales process and defining the different steps of your methodology, contact us here.