Developing a sales strategy is one of the keys to success in sales. Notice – “one of” the keys. There are, of course, many essential components – including your sales vision and mission, sales processes, sales forecasting, tracking and analytics, to name a few. With so many moving parts, your sales operation is like a set of gears with interlocking cogs that must mesh precisely to make the entire machine turn in unison.
Two such gears in continual contact and motion with one another are your sales strategy and your selling methods. If these cogs are out of alignment, your entire sales apparatus will grind to a halt.
Sales Strategy Definition
As noted in a previous blog found here, your sales strategy should be a “well-defined, goal-focused, clearly communicated, and mission-oriented plan that positions your solutions (i.e., your products and services) uniquely in the minds of your targeted customers while also providing actionable direction for your sales organization.”
“Actionable direction” is where your selling methods help your strategies come to life, where ideas become solutions, and through which your prospects can become your customers.
Essential Parts of Any Successful Selling Method
There are countless methods of selling, some relatively simple and straightforward, others trendy and unorthodox. But any method used, to be effective, must:
- Be targeted. An effective sales method must address the particular needs and characteristics of a high-quality prospect and the competitive market in which they operate.
- Solve a problem or fill a need. The sales method must focus on solving the customer’s pain. If the solution is not a good fit, it’s not really a solution at all.
- Be flexible and responsive. An effective sales method is easily adaptable, in sync with the prospect’s status in the sales funnel. While initial customer targeting might be data-driven per your CRM, the selling method used must readily adapt to the customer’s real-time needs and not get bogged down in an overly rigid process.
Types of Selling Methods
With these prerequisites established, what are some popular methodologies to choose from? Recently developed selling methods tend to use acronyms in their names. These include SPIN and SNAP and BANT and ANUM and N.E.A.T. and MEDDIC, for example. Each has its unique aspects and applications, but for now, let’s consider some of the more traditional and time-proven selling methods:
Solution-based selling focuses on benefits to the customer first, followed by emphasizing the features of the solution. With a solution-based selling method, it becomes easier to address the prospect’s “pain” and differentiate your company’s products or services from those offered by your competitors.
Value-based selling is related to solution-based selling in that it focuses on the value of benefits. This makes price less relevant and also makes it easier to overcome objections, close the sale, and create win-win situations for the customer and the seller.
Inbound selling responds to prospect inquiries based on successful marketing and lead-generation. Sometimes, this is an online process, with the prospect responding to a web-based or social media marketing campaign. With inbound selling, the prospect is pre-qualified by indicating at least a baseline level of interest in the seller’s solution. Depending on the nature of the product or service being offered, other selling methods can be adopted to turn the lead into a customer.
Traditional (Persuasive) Selling
Persuasive Selling is the classic (“old school,” perhaps) style of selling. While all sales methods can require some amount of persuasion, this methodology is often high-pressure. Because of that, it tends to be best for one-off sales opportunities and is not recommended for building trust-based, long-term relationships.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from persuasive selling is Collaborative Selling. This non-manipulative method is low-pressure by nature. It emphasizes empathy and understanding and relationship-building; thus, it takes longer to close the deal. Because of this, a more aggressive competitor could enter the picture and capture the sale. Nonetheless, for prospects who resist pressure, building trust through collaborative selling could be the right approach.
Consultative selling is based on building a professional relationship in which problem-solving solutions are provided over an extended period. The salesperson using this method is often the same as the solution provider, serving as a consultant (such as Sales Xceleration’s sales leadership consultants, for example).
Aligning Your Sales Strategies and Selling Methods
Aligning your big-picture sales strategies with your tactical selling methods takes thought and some analysis, but it’s not all that complicated. In fact, you can simply make lists of each – strategies in Column A and selling methods in Column B – and draw connecting lines between the matches. It can really be that simple to identify how the two critical elements relate.
Perhaps most important, a visual exercise like this will clearly indicate where connections are missing. If you have a strategy that is not supported by any selling methodology – or a sales method that doesn’t dovetail with any strategy – this should raise a red flag: Is your strategy not actionable? Or are your sales processes not “walking the talk” of your strategic direction? In either case, the lack of a clear connection highlights an area to be fine-tuned so your sales strategies and selling methods are in alignment across the board.
The Bottom Line:
Admittedly, this is a high-level overview of just some of the selling methods that can be used to make your sales strategy successful. Alignment is essential. Your selling methods must support and reinforce your overall sales strategy which, in turn, must support and reinforce your company’s solutions and overall brand.
Developing a sales strategy and aligning your selling methods with it can be among your most important keys to success in sales. To learn more, click here. You can also click here to schedule a free consultation with one of our Sales Leadership Consultants or contact us at (844) 874-7253.
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