Right now, there are countless digital tools available, many of which are useful for effectively managing your work, none of which replace the need for you to sell effectively, to occupy the role of peer and trusted advisor, and none of which substitute for you having the chops to create and win opportunities. While these tools are useful, the tools that will help you sell more are not electronic.
A Dynamic, Agile Sales Process:
I used to say that I was agnostic about sales processes, with no preference for one over another. I have changed my mind, and I have changed my position on the sales process. You need a dynamic (constantly changing) and agile (able to adjust to circumstances quickly) process that serves your prospective client in the process of changing.
A sales process is a framework for moving a prospect through the process of change. That framework is written as if it is linear, but it is not. It is non-linear because human beings and external circumstances have a strong tendency to struggle with change. They have conflicting goals, conflicting needs, they engage in conflict around these things, or avoid conflict and decide to take no action.
A process needs to provide milestones and guidance as to what needs to be accomplished to move a prospective client from the current state to a better future state.
But how to move a prospect from their current state to the better future state? There is more than one way to accomplish something. There are always choices available, and there are frameworks available to assist with certain skills and outcomes. These are methodologies, and they bolt onto a sales process.
SPIN Selling, for example, was a methodology for asking questions that helped prospective clients think through the implications to envision a better future. The Challenger Sale, by CEB (now Gartner) is a methodology for sharing your insights and teaching your clients a new way to think about their business. They are not a sales process because they don’t provide guidance as to how to target, qualify, diagnose needs, present solutions, or negotiate. But all of the aforementioned stages of the sales process have methodologies to assist in effectively achieving those outcomes.
Methodologies are the frameworks that allow you to achieve the outcomes necessary to move your prospects from the status quo to the better results you can help them achieve.
A playbook is the documentation of all the plays that you run to be able to follow the process and use the methodologies, with guidance around all the information that can help you to understand what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and where to find help.
A playbook is just that, a series of plays with supporting documentation. The thing that makes a playbook a playbook is that it tells you what to do and how to do it. You are literally running plays. That means it needs to include the actions you need to take, and how to do so. Done well, the playbook is an essential tool, and a living document, updated frequently with new choices.
If you want to invest in tools, look here before spending time, money, and resources on technology solutions. The first and fastest way to produce better results is to build better salespeople.
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Filed under: Sales Acumen