Focus on How: Beyond Sales Methodologies

I read an article discussing how Sales Methodologies don’t work; they are simply a recipe and at the end of the day following step by step instructions is not how to close a deal.

While I focus a lot on sales methodology on this blog, including my own Focus on HOW; I agree that sales methodologies are going to ensure you close deals. However what a good Sales Methodology empowers you to do is to truly understand the client’s problem and address that problem with a strategic path forward.

A good sales methodology is a groundwork – a foundation, but is not a foolproof recipe for success. The best sales methodologies empower the seller to be agile and meet the client in the moment – versus just following a set of guidelines and being surprised with the sale doesn’t go through.

I created Focus on How because it makes you constantly look at where you are in the moment with customer and look at the framework moving forward. It is not meant to be a formula for guaranteed success, but like SPIN it helps you to listen to understand, anticipate problems and proactively work as a consultant to help your customers solve problems.

Sales methodologies help build a strategy so you can work to do everything in your power as a salesperson to help meet the client where they are (before state) and understand and advise on their needs. Understanding the need and problem is important – it is the first step, but the problem with sales professionals is that we often ‘assume’ before we really take time to listen or analyze.

This ‘assumption’ is not the ‘understanding of customer needs based one your expertise as a consultant.’ As consultants we should confront our clients with business problems we see that exist, but they appear immune to. The status quo doesn’t seem to be broken when you are used to broken processes

One methodology is not going to power a sale – but can help you stay on track and anticipate hurdles in the path. They aim to keep you focused on client need and product alignment.

Most of the sales I’ve lost forecasted at 60% or higher fell apart because I missed something earlier in the sales journey. I forgot to ask a question about budget hurdles or timeline …all sales people at times are so focused on powering the sale forward we forget to ask – how does the client feel about the sales cycle? Are they as engaged as we are? Have we built enough value – if not where do we need to lean in?

No sales methodology is going to ensure your sale closes – but it gives you a good recipe for success.

I’ll give an example:

I hate putting furniture together. One time I put an InterMetro shelf together and it had no instructions. I had no framework/recipe to go from point a to b. I watched YouTube videos, but they were incomplete. So in the end the shelf took 3 hours to put together and fell apart three times. I figured it out, but without directions I had no path forward – it led me frustrated and I’m not sure if that shelf is permanently secure.

Ikea instructions can help, but they aren’t perfect, but at least they help you get from point A to point B.

We need to be agile and aware, Focusing on WHERE we are in the process – Where the customer is in their mindset, the GAP to get to the next stage and HOW we can get there.

Focus on HOW

How is the client uses it now?

How do they envision their future state

How can your solution help?

How can we address their problems?

How does the customer see their current state – how can we bridge the gap to get to the desired state

How can you build the value that resonates with the buyer?

What are the objections or potential roadblocks (anticipated and realized) and HOW can you tackle those?

Summary: Use sales methodologies as a framework and gas in your car – but you have to drive the conversation. You need to be aware of the road – traffic (objections, client concerns, budgets). When a deal seems to stall or hits a dead end – think about HOW. How can I redirect the conversation to get the deal back on track? How can I learn from this deal and improve from mistakes during this sales cycle.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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