Sales Methods: The What, When, Why, and How, with Steve Maxwell, Episode #133


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There are so many sales methods available in the modern sales environment - perhaps too many. How do you select one that will drive your sales team’s productivity in a way that enables them to reach sales goals? I invited sales leader Steve Maxwell on this episode of the #ModernSelling podcast to give us his take on this hot-button issue.

Steve is a 30+ year Silicon Valley technology sales veteran who has served in many roles - direct sales, channel sales, and global sales leadership with some of the technology industry's best known and most successful companies. He’s also become an advocate for Sales Enablement's transformation from a tactical sales training function to that of a strategic asset. Join us as we dig into this important issue and tap into the sage advice of a master sales professional.

How To Choose A Sales Method For Your Organization

With the wide variety of sales methods out there, it’s not easy to choose the one that fits your organization and be beneficial to everyone on your team. Steve and I remember the days when “sales training” was an event that lasted for a few days, got everyone excited, and then resolved to the same old way of doing things - and with a nice big training binder added to the bookshelf (never to be opened again).

Steve points out that sales methodologies have to be part of the DNA of the organization, which goes far beyond a training event. He suggests that companies start making the "sales methods" choice by asking a few important questions:

  • If you are already successful as a sales organization, are there sales methods that fit alongside the way you’re currently operating?
  • Is there a sales method that reinforces what’s already successful - or complements it effectively?
  • If your organization is struggling with sales, identify the exact areas you need help in and look for methods that focus on those weaknesses.
  • Are you and your senior leaders ready to commit to making the cultural change necessary to make a new sales method stick long term?

Listen to hear more great insights from Steve about selecting the proper sales methodology for your company.

Your Chosen Sales Method Will Not Stick When Delivered In A Two Day Training

Sales training seminars or weekend events are not effective because they are carried out in short bursts with little to no real follow up and reinforcement. Steve points out that anything important that each of us has learned occurred in an entirely different context. We learned by doing and we repeated that hands-on practice to ingrain the learning into our behavior.

In the sales world, this starts with an initial introduction to your new sales methods and continues through ongoing reinforcement through coaching, changes in language and messaging used internally, changes to your CRM, as well as celebrations of client wins that are a direct result of the methodology being implemented. These are examples of what Steve means when he says that sales leadership has to buy-in to the new methodology.

How To Get Your Entire Sales Team Onboard With Your New Sales Methods

It’s not enough to switch selling methods, make an announcement, hold an initial training, and then mandate that everyone uses what you’ve shown them. You’ve got to do more thoughtful planning. Steve suggests the following...

  • Implement your new sales methodology through both gradual and ongoing training.
  • Change your language and practices within the team structure.
  • Clearly demonstrate the expected benefits of the change with proof of increased close rates.
  • Constantly work with frontline sales leaders to keep it going through coaching.
  • Highlight successes so that your team can see the results.

Steve says that doing these things consistently will “extend the honeymoon” period of your new methodology and maintain optimism as the change is being made by your team.

Accelerating The Sales Onboard Ramp For New Team Members

Consider the dramatic change that can occur in your sales results if you could shorten onboarding for new sales reps by just one month. Let’s look at some numbers…

If your average sales rep is responsible for 1 million in sales annually ($83,333/mo) and you have 5 new sales reps in training, you could potentially increase your annual revenue by $416,000 ($83,333 X 5) through shortening your onboarding time frame by just one month.

Steve says one of the most important things is to set a new standard for what a new sales rep needs to demonstrate. Stop focusing on the traditional indicators, which he refers to as “lagging indicators” - things like time to close, time to first deal, etc. Instead, look at the time it takes a sales rep to be CAPABLE of certain behaviors they will need to be effective. Instead of focusing on “What do they need to know?” Steve focuses on “What do they need to be able to do?” This shortens the onboarding process considerably, providing great gains in annual sales numbers.

Don’t miss this conversation with Steve. It’s both practical and powerful if you’ll apply the lessons he shares.

Outline of This Episode
  • [1:15] Steve’s path from “I don’t want to work at all” to sales leader
  • [6:10] The massive role sales enablement plays in a sales organization
  • [10:25] Sales methodologies: how to select one for your organization
  • [17:29] The power of reinforcement through ongoing coaching
  • [20:10] Getting the buy-in of sales leaders
  • [24:20] Why you need to regularly demonstrate successes of your sales method
  • [26:31] Keys to a successful sales onboarding program
  • [37:30] How to consider partner tech vendors for your sales team
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