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  • Writer's pictureLance Tyson

What is a Sales Methodology and Why Yours Needs to be Gold Medal Worthy

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

What is a Sales Methodology and Why Your Team Needs One

Back when I ran several training franchises, I encouraged my people to go after anything and everything. I gave them a solid sales process to work, but back then we didn’t have a well-defined sales methodology. In fact, those frameworks we call sales methodologies today were simply called selling back then, such as relationship selling, or SPIN selling.

After a while I noticed that the team started separating into distinct groups. One group was producing results a lot faster than other members of the team. Meanwhile, another group  was slower at getting results but was also closing deals that were considerably larger in size.

I discovered that the reps who were producing results quicker were focusing on transactional sales to individuals. Those who were taking longer were focusing on selling to accounts. Same general sales process. But these team members had tweaked the process by focusing on the elements that would produce the kind of sale they were trying to achieve. And it also impacted how they prospected, how they opened the call, how often they took notes, and even how they closed their deals.

Today, we call the framework that connects everything together the sales methodology. A sales methodology is a philosophy or set of principles that govern how your sales team conducts every aspect of the sales process. And it touches on how you hire your sales talent, how you train and coach them, your product lines, and even your target market.

Understanding the Sales Methodology Through Another Olympic Games Analogy

One of the most anticipated races on the track during the Tokyo Olympic Games, aside from the 400 metres race with Alison Felix, was the 800 metres race. America had been in a middle-distance drought since 1968. So you can imagine the excitement from the sports community when the American team fielded a promising 19 year old prodigy named Athing Mu.

Mu had decimated the field during the Olympic trials. No one was even close to her when she finished. And during the final heat at the trials, another runner accidentally clipped her. Mu found herself running from the back after stumbling. Yet, she still won the final heat. So, she entered the Tokyo Games with a lot of expectations riding on her shoulders. And she did not disappoint, easily taking the gold.

But, as usual, what I found insightful was all of the training activity leading up to the race in Tokyo.

A Coaching Methodology That Encompassed More Than Running

I find these races at the Olympic Games are like the close in the sales process. Everyone focuses on them and gives them all the attention. No one pays any attention to the hard work, the prep, and the training that goes into getting the final result.

For example, Athing Mu’s grooming started about a decade before the Tokyo Games when her coach in Trenton NJ, Bernice Mitchel, recognized her talent and conveyed a general philosophy to her. Mitchell said, “You can either be the rabbit, or you can be the fox.

Establish what you are as soon as you step up to the starting line, and do not waver. If you decide to be the fox, then go eat. If you decide to be the rabbit, don't get eaten.” While Mu typically runs from the front and pushes the pace hard, the Olympic trials showed that she knows how to hunt from the back of the pack as well.

But it wasn’t just her raw talent or that running philosophy. Mitchell also advised her to focus on one distance. Mitchell told her to choose one race and own it. So Mu decided very early to focus on the 800 metres distance and she spent her time sharpening her specialty.

Mu’s coach didn’t just stick to the track either. She also focused on preparing Mu for interviews and coached her on how to conduct herself on social media. Mitchell touched on a lot more than the “on the field” stuff. She groomed Mu for off the field activities as well. The result is an athlete who has talent, confidence, poise, and knows how to present herself on and off the track.

What We Can Learn About Sales Methodology from Athing Mu and Her Running Experience

Like the holistic process that took a kid with raw talent and turned her into an Olympic superstar, your sales methodology will help your salespeople become champions. When aligned, your sales methodology will help your salespeople identify your target contacts as well as providing a framework for prospecting. It will help them capitalize on the power in their sales process.

As I stated earlier, a sales methodology is a set of governing principles, guidelines, or rules for how your salespeople sell your products or services to your customers. It will govern how your team approaches prospecting, who they are targeting, and the type of language they will use to engage their contacts. Your sales methodology will govern how you approach every aspect of your sales process. It determines how your salespeople will do what needs to be done.

There are several commercial sales methodologies available and there’s been a lot of ink spilled detailing them. I’m not going to review them here when there are a number of decent articles outlining the characteristics of several popular sales methodologies, like this resource on HubSpot.

However, here are two observations. First, most of them are B2B oriented. And second, they have been developed by consultants and training vendors who have spent a lot of time and resources examining common traits in high performing sales teams and researching how they conduct business.

Aligning Sales Methodology With the Rest of Your Drivers of High Performing Sales Teams

When you consider all you have to accomplish within the time frame you have established, you realize that your sales methodology will have to align with the rest of your drivers in order to create the dynamic sales champions every sales leader wants.

Think back to what Athing Mu was able to accomplish. She has the talent (sales talent). But raw talent isn’t enough. To help her along, it took a coach with vision (sales leadership) who could plot out challenging goals for her (sales management).

It took a coach with discipline to help her focus on one particular race instead of running everything at every meet, create a training plan for that race, and plot out the events to attend that supported that race (sales process).

It took a coach with compassion who would spend the time grooming her for interviews, creating her public persona, and tying it all together with a general philosophy that kept her on point (sales methodology).

Yes, I’m sure there was some shoe technology involved as well (sales enablement). After all, just before the Tokyo Olympic Games, she signed on with Nike for an estimated $500,000-$750,000 per year. And she’s only 19!

That’s why we ask questions in the Sales Team Science Assessment about alignment and review. Because if your team is going to perform like the champions they are, all of these elements need to work together, not grinding against each other. And all of them have to be reviewed regularly to make sure they are adjusted for changes brought on by new environmental or economic factors.

So, set aside some time and take the Sales Team Science Assessment. Review the results and determine where you and your team can use more development and alignment between these six drivers. Then, let’s talk about developing a game plan that takes your team to the next performance level.

The cost is about 30 minutes of your time. The results, a performance worthy of a gold medal.  

Your sales methodology needs to be defined and aligned with the rest of your sales process to produce gold medal performances. Ensure your team is firing on all cylinders. Take the Sales Team Science Assessment here.

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