Sales Process vs Sales Methodology
How they Align to Improve Sales Win Rates
- The sales process defines WHAT to do. The sales methodology shows HOW to do it.
- Process is about efficiency. Methodology is about effectiveness.
- When comparing sales process vs sales methodology, recognize the two are symbiotic. Light in process results in aimless or chaotic execution, or random sales acts. Light in methodology results in ineffective results.
Sales Process vs Sales Methodology
Everybody has a selling process. Few have an optimized selling process, that is, a procedure that systemically and predictably maximizes sale conversions.
Most selling processes are just sequential steps. An optimized process is a streamlined roadmap that consistently delivers a predictable result. It often stems from a sales excellence program or business process improvement project.
An optimized selling process is a repeatable, predictable, scalable framework that replicates the behaviors of top performers, levels-up the broader sales team and increases win rates. It's all about execution – doing the right things right. Process steps include stages such as qualification, discovery, strategy, presentation, proposal and closure.
The selling motion must align with the buyer's purchase journey and include tasks, milestones, exit criteria and phase-gates. Each step has activities that create outcomes that feed subsequent steps. Each outcome should be measurable, and the entire effort should be collectively quantifiable to permit adjustments and promote continuous improvements.
Selling steps should be measured and automated with CRM software. The CRM system provides the customer data, process automation and information reporting to bring consistency, repeatability and scale to seller execution.
For example, CRM technology can calculate a lead score at the qualification step, capture responses at the discovery step and offer competitive differentiation at the strategy step. Or it deliver contextual recommendations at any step. CRM guided selling is not a substitute for salesperson judgment or action, it's an aid to improve decision making and staff productivity.
Sales steps bring structure to the sales cycle. But by themselves they lack the prescriptive or recommended methods, tactics and best practices to be successful in those steps. That's why a sale methodology is needed.
Your sale methodology shifts your selling strategy from what you sell to how you sell.
It provides the methods or directives to advance prospects within each step of the selling process. For example, it defines the methods and questions to qualify a lead, aligns buyer pain with solution benefits, applies a strategy to win against competitors, proposes negotiation methods to preserve margin, or suggests tactics to accelerate sales velocity.
The sale methodology also integrates your selling strategy, including your competitive advantages, unique value proposition, competitor differentiation and customer value. Each of these items creates differentiation and must be progressively carried through each step of the sales journey in order to resonate and stand apart.
You can create a custom selling process or methodology. But why would you? It would take years to figure out what others already have. It would take years to reverse engineer the actions and behaviors of top producers, identify best practices, create a framework to make them easily replicable for the broader team and create the training, testing and monitoring programs to succeed.
Fortunately, there are several commercial sales methodologies that have already done that. There's no need to reinvent the wheel.
The Point is This
Your selling process defines what to do while your selling methodology describes how to do it.
The process drives sales execution with a focus on sequence and progress. The methodology brings strategy and discipline using proven principles, prescribed activities and best practices that improve results.
Ignoring, blurring or failing to understand sales process versus sales methodology often results in random, inconsistent and unpredictable selling execution. It degrades the ability to systemically iterate and continuously improve performance. The two must work in lockstep to be effective.