Focus on HOW: Methodology Outline

Olympic skiers look flawless gliding down the mountain navigating each twist and turn like a walk in the park. They can make it look easy – but skiing is hard. The effortless downhill run comes only after intense practice and a well place plan of execution. When a skier competes at a new slope they can only navigate the terrain if they rely on the core ski skills they’ve learned (practice and knowledge) but also an ability to adapt and read the terrain – they have a ‘HOW’ in place – a game plan. If they don’t have the balance of skill and understanding/strategy they will fall and it can be catastrophic.

I compared sales with a marathon in Focus on HOW. Sales is a marathon – it is a journey with many stops and starts, relying on endurance. Perspective and forecasting is essential in Sales.

I bring in the skiing analogy because I think skiing reflects our ups and downs as sales professionals. I am a terrible skier – I’ll be honest. I love Big Sky Montana for hiking – but I’m clumsy on the slopes. I learned living in Montana that with skiing I may not be a pro, but I can survive the snow if I plan ahead. I wear waterproof gear, I anticipate ice and where I could slip and in Montana if you want to go anywhere in the winter you need to walk (or ski) in the snow. It means taking a risk, but a strategic risk.

A good sales professional needs the endurance and perspective of a marathon runner, but the execution and agility of a skier to adapt in the moment to navigate the terrain. Skiing like sales requires you sometimes tackle risks – who really wants to ‘jump’ down a slippery hill. On the surface the path to PO looks easy – you just slide and velocity will take you there – but if you don’t strategize or understand how to use your ‘skis’ (sales skills) you will fall down. If you don’t have the proper objection handling you will be stuck in the snow. If you don’t have a strategy on how to get from the top of the slope to the bottom with agility (able to survey the sales landscape in the minute) you will fall down, crash and lose the sale.

I am transparent that I’m a work in progress. Even top sales professionals are constantly facing objections and challenges and if they rest on their laurels it is like a runner or skier competing with a sprain. You can get by at first, but it will collapse eventually. Sales professionals – we need to be self aware – willing to build on our foundation and grow constantly. Being in a new role after success at my last job – I’m the skier at the top of the slope. I need to have a plan before I dive in – otherwise I will crash.

Discovery and good conversations will help build my pipeline, but I won’t get to my goal unless I look at HOW. How is this solution going to help my clients. How can we get them to commit within the quarter? What steps do I need to take in order to drive this sale forward.

Discovery builds the foundation – HOW helps build the house.

We’ve been going through various Discovery & Sales Methodologies – which are all helpful to get you to HOW, but one area I need to move past in my new role is HOW. How can I close business? I have the skills, but landscape is different. How do I navigate the unique customer needs and product? How? The question demands an action plan.

So I set up a basic sales methodology to help simplify my path to PO. I call it FOCUS on HOW.

I’ve outlined the steps below and will continue to dig deeper into these steps in the coming months. I am in the field and learning and will continue to share my failures and successes…because that is HOW we get better as sale professionals and individuals.

Focus on How starts with WHY

1. WHY – every sales cycle much start with WHY

  • What is your reason for selling the product? What drives you?
  • Why will the solution you are selling help the product
  • Why – discovering the W’s and How of the customers current state, goals for future state and what pains do they face (DISCOVERY)

2. Why provides the motivation and data to solution sell

  • I wrote an article about having a Data Mindset – and this is important throughout the sales process because it forces you to gauge the facts/data and use it to power a system of action/path forward
  • It is important to dig into the ‘data’ ‘information’ you gathered from discovery and analyze/reflect on why you are relevant and be a consultant to form a solution approach for the client.

3. Focus on HOW. Use the discovery data to create an action plan to ensure that you guide the client into the perfect solution. HOW is not being pushy – it means being strategic, empathetic and focused on how you can resolve their problem (if problem selling) and the path to transform their environment. HOW is solution selling.

  • HOW is a fluid step – it starts in discovery with active listening and at each post, it involves moving forward the deal with strategic and consultative action
  • In this third stage the HOW is focused on taking the feedback and starting the solution selling journey. Demoing – breaking down implementation – anticipate objections and how to overcome them.

4. Turning HOW into Action: Closing the Deal

5. Closing the Loop – moving from How to implementation and ongoing resolution.

I’d love your thoughts and anything you’d add to this framework.

The HOW really helps to drive you towards action and action planning. It requires follow-through. HOW is not a rash reaction – but thoughtful path. ‘How can I accomplish a resolution and what steps do I need to take to get there?

Stay tuned to the Focus on HOW series. We continued to strive to HOW we can all improve as sales professionals and turn our WHY towards HOW so goals are accomplished.

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