When a Sales Qualification Tool Isn't Enough

What would you say if I told you Formula 1 drivers train by driving down the track, looking exclusively in the rear-view mirror? Or what if I told you the most successful NFL football teams spend 90% of their practice sessions reviewing old game tapes?

You’d either assume I was joking or seriously question my knowledge of F1, American football and driving in general.

And yet, I can’t help but draw certain parallels between the examples above and mature sales organizations that depend exclusively on sales qualification tools to move deals forward.

Don’t get me wrong: sales qualification tools are helpful guides and an excellent starting point for many companies. Except, how do you tell when you need more? Moreover, what exactly is the difference between sales qualification tools and sales methodologies? While the distinction might seem simple, I’ve seen a lot of confusion in the marketplace, so let’s start there.  

The Difference Between Sales Qualification Tools and Sales Methodologies

Sales qualification tools help salespeople identify if an opportunity is worth pursuing. They typically take the form of a checklist – helping sellers look backward to evaluate previous steps in the sales cycle and identify gaps.

I want to emphasize that last point: helping sellers look backward to evaluate. Sales qualification tools are tremendous at this – they’re similar to the time athletes spend reviewing game tapes in preparation for a big showdown. However, they do not provide you with an actionable plan for incorporating what you’ve learned into your game-day strategy.

In contrast, sale methodologies are frameworks outlining how your teams will create, qualify, advance, close and renew opportunities – actionable steps that any customer-facing role can use to engage the customer or prospect with a best-practice approach. They provide a common language, process and toolset to align your revenue engine around driving customer value.

Going back to our American football analogy, sales methodologies cover everything from your blocking and tackling drills to the plays you’ll use to move the ball downfield.

Most importantly, effective sales methodologies focus everyone from sales to marketing to finance on your buyer and their future value realization.

When to Invest in a Sales Methodology

How do you know it’s time for a complete sales methodology?

In my experience, there are four main indicators to look for:

  • You’re trying to scale your sales team.
  • You aren’t realizing the results you would expect.
  • You need a structured sales coaching program.
  • Your revenue engine is trapped in silos, negatively impacting your CX.

I want to tease out those last two points as examples.

From a sales coaching perspective, it’s difficult to coach if you can’t show your reps what a well-executed sales process looks like. A robust sales methodology gives you a common language, process and toolset to enable effective sales coaching sessions and build desired sales behaviors.

The other unique aspect of complete sales methodologies is their applicability across the entire revenue engine. When it comes to improving CX, it's easy to focus solely on customer-facing roles – in reality, revenue growth and customer loyalty rely on multiple roles throughout the organization.

Take complex sales, for example. It's not just the sales force involved – individuals from across the organization contribute their expertise. When they're trained on the same buyer-focused framework as your sales team, valuable insights are gained, ensuring resources aren't wasted.

Let's not forget about marketing – value-based selling is the goal for many sales forces, and it can be challenging if your marketing engine is still cranking out product-focused messaging. When all marketing assets align with the common language of the sales methodology, messaging becomes laser-focused and impactful.

This cross-functional communication framework also creates feedback loops and alignment across the organization. With sales, marketing, finance, billing, customer support, and success teams all evaluating and discussing business using the same common language, knowledge-sharing flourishes. This alignment allows teams to work together to drive customer value and loyalty. It’s a game-changer.

How to Implement a Sales Methodology

Make no mistake: Implementing a sales methodology involves a dynamic change-management process. First, carefully select a vendor that aligns with your needs. This vendor should customize everything to fit seamlessly with your sales process, channel strategy and geographic requirements.

Next, remember that successful implementation requires strong leadership, effective management and coaching development, measurement systems, consistent reinforcement and integration of your sales methodologies into essential RevTech tools and CRM. It’s also crucial to have an ongoing plan for new hires and managers, as well as acknowledging and celebrating successes. Lastly, I urge you to regularly revisit and make necessary adjustments to ensure continuous improvement.

* * *

Both sales qualification tools and methodologies play crucial roles in the sales process. While the former acts as a rear-view mirror, providing valuable insights on past interactions and helping identify opportunities worth pursuing, the latter serves as a roadmap, guiding customer-facing teams toward successful customer engagement and value realization. Together, they improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the buying journey – and many robust sales methodologies incorporate qualification tools into their frameworks to streamline your CX, reduce time wasted on no-decision opportunities and enhance forecast accuracy.


For more selling advice, check out:

As always, Sell with Value,

-Julie

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