If you're asking yourself which sales methodology or process you should be using in your business - chances are you're asking the wrong question!
Take your pick - Strategic Selling, Target Account Selling, Solution Selling, SPIN Selling, Customer Centric Selling, Value Based Selling, Trust Based Selling, Challenger™ Selling, "make it up as we go along" selling - the list goes on and on.
Many of these methodologies compete against each other, given they either want to sell THEIR book, or THEIR training services over and above others'. As recently as 2012 the Corporate Executive Board - promoters of the "Challenger™" sales approach - actually convinced the editors of the Harvard Business Review to publish an article claiming that "Solution Sales" was dead!
So - how do you choose which methodology to adopt for your sales team?
The answer is - YOU DON'T!
The breakthrough thinking is to focus on the new B2B buyers journey - and to realise that some core philosophies and tools associated with various methodologies apply particularly to specific phases of that journey.
There's a better way
An event that causes a potential B2B buyer to move from being "calm" to "having their status quo shattered" is called a "sales trigger", according to the authors of SHIFT! It's experiencing this feeling of being in a "window of dissatisfaction" that causes a buyer to start on a new buyer's journey. (Via the authors' generosity, you can download a copy of the key sales trigger chapters - for FREE - here!)
The Challenger™ sales methodology talks about three core skills - one being to "teach" the customer a new better way of running their business, based on some unique insight. Undertaking this teaching is a way of instigating a sales trigger - and hence the "teaching" part of the Challenger™ methodology is appropriate to start buyers on new buying journeys.
What's your problem?
Solution Selling, SPIN Selling and similar methodologies aim at getting a buyer to reveal a problem they are experiencing. Once uncovered the methodologies assist the buyer to understand the impact of the problem - and they work to build a vision of what the buyer's world will look like when the problem is overcome. This vision correlates to a solution - so the buyer has now framed the problem and the solution.
There's a deal on the table - how do I beat my competitors?
The Strategic Selling methodology offers useful tools once the buyer has framed their desired solution, and decided to approach the market, running their procurement process. Strategic Seling talks about creating personal wins for buying influences and "covering the bases" of all the buying influences.
Skills along the buyer's journey
Throughout a large part of the buyer's journey, sales people need specific skills to "take control", pushing to keep the customer moving. To "speak in the customer's language" the sales person also needs to "tailor" what they are saying to suit EACH of the CEO, CFO, CMO, Sales Director, HR Manager etc. The Challenger™ sales methodology talks about both taking control and also tailoring the conversation.
Aligning selling with how buyers buy
So - what does it all mean? Lots of conclusions - but the fact is that modern B2B Sales Directors need to be across a multitude of sales methodologies, "picking the eyes" out of each one depending on where any particular prospect is on their buyer's journey.
Indeed - there are dire consequences for NOT matching your sales process to the new buyer's journey. Click here to check out our blog post on how you can engage with buyers earlier and align your sales process with the new buyer's journey.
So - is your sales team selling in line with how buyers buy? And are they using the right methodology at the right time?