There are many ways to optimize sales performance. But the one thing we can all agree on is that sales is something to be supported and nurtured. In a game of capture the flag, it’s the flag that both triggers teams to protect their own while also motivating them to win.
In business, it doesn’t matter how you approach it — the goal is to keep sales alive. And no matter what sales process you follow, sales needs care and protection. Sales enablement activities play a key role in supporting your sales process by building content and best practices across your organization.
To show how this works, we’ve picked 2 popular sales methodologies and we walk you through how sales enablement processes contribute to their successful execution.
How Sales Processes Help Optimize Sales Performance
A sales process is a template for achieving sales objectives and optimizing sales performance by your salespeople. In essence, it is your organization’s unique way of selling.
An effective sales process outlines a repeatable cycle of steps a salesperson takes to turn an early-stage lead into a new customer. Each step in a sales approach may consist of several separate selling activities.
Most organizations adopt a proven sales methodology upon which to build their sales processes. This blog won’t cover what a sales process is, but you can find a ton of information here, here, and here.
B2B-Focused Sales Methodologies to Improve Sales Performance
In sales, the prospect should be the focal point of every type of sales approach. Finding the sales methodology that allows you to consistently meet the needs of your prospect is central to optimizing sales performance that will build productive, mutually beneficial relationships with loyal customers.
While there are dozens of proven sales methodologies teams use to improve sales performance, we’ve chosen two for this blog that are well known for their B2B focus — the Challenger Sale and the Sandler Selling System — to illustrate how sales enablement plays a key role in supporting sales processes.
The Challenger™ Sales Approach
Based on one of the largest studies in sales ever done, The Challenger Sale is a seminal piece in B2B sales. It was written in response to the shift in the B2B buyer journey, where buyers started becoming more informed and empowered earlier in the sales process making traditional selling no longer effective.
In this new buying landscape, authors Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon came to a realization: sales reps needed to disrupt the way their buyers thought about the sales process and deliver insights that challenged how they viewed their own business. This is where The Challenger™ model was born.
Rather than trying to build relationships with prospects, this methodology encourages sales reps to take control of the sales process. These high-performing reps are called “Challengers,” as you might have already guessed.
“What exactly makes someone a Challenger? They have a different view of the world and profound understanding of their customer’s needs. Challenger sellers love exploring new ideas and using constructive tension to motivate the customer to think differently about their business. Their conversations lead with commercial insight and lead to, not with, the solution they’re selling.”
The Role of Sales Enablement in the Challenger Sale
Just like the Challenger model, sales enablement is also a product of the new B2B buyer journey. Prompted by the growth of digital channels, the new buying landscape requires a shift in how we think about and engage with customers to optimize sales performance. This means approaching sales differently than you might have in the past.
High-performing Challengers succeed with an unusual sales approach: they understand their customer’s market so well that, instead of going into the sales process to gain insight, first they give insight on things that are affecting their business the customer isn’t even aware of.
To achieve this, sales reps need to have an intimate knowledge of their ideal customer and where they are in the complex buyer journey. This is where alignment between cross-functional teams becomes critical for sales enablement success.
Sales enablement is most successful when informed by people from cross-functional teams. Between leadership, product, sales, marketing, and customer success, each team has complementary skills and knowledge to impart.
Sales and marketing alignment is a keystone to this process. Marketers work closely with sales teams and take part in customer events to gain a deep understanding of the buyers the sales team will meet along the buyer journey. They then create sales enablement content that addresses key concerns or questions at various stages of that journey.
Winning the complex B2B sale means having the right message and the right skills to connect with the right buyers. Challenger sales reps succeed by understanding their customer’s business well enough to teach new ideas, tailor insights to customer pain points, and take control of the conversation — allowing them to position themselves as a trusted partner helping them with their business.
The Sandler Sales Method
Rather than emphasizing the closing stage of the sales process, the Sandler Sales Method optimizes sales performance by concentrating on lead qualification and relationship building. Pushy salespeople have no place in this sales approach. Reps act as consultants and ensure prospects are a perfect match for their offering.
As a sales rep talks with their prospect, they focus more on listening and asking the right questions to understand their buyer’s pain points, what their budget is, and who their decision makers are. By getting this information early in the sales process, reps can accurately evaluate the quality of the opportunity and work toward a mutually beneficial solution.
As its core, the Sandler Sales Method excels at building strong client relationships. Sandler sales reps are expected to get inside the minds of their buyers and figure out how they see the world — to the point where leads start to imagine the deal was their idea in the first place. David Mattson, President and CEO of Sandler Training, sees the buying journey as an emotional one.
“I think people buy emotionally and then justify their decisions intellectually. And so most of us pitch our features and benefits, but really what we should be trying to figure out is: ‘Do they have the problems that our product is trying to solve?’ Don’t sell the product, try to sell the solution. But I have to determine whether you even have that problem, because I don’t think people will buy anything.”
The Role of Sales Enablement in the Sandler Sales Method
Sandler sales reps are invested in their customer’s success and want to make sure they understand their customer’s situation. To achieve this, the Sandler Sales Method uses 7 steps that can be summarized into:
- Building the relationship
- Qualifying the opportunity
- Closing the sale
Once sales reps build rapport and bond with their customer, they move forward to qualifying the opportunity. This is the meat of the Sandler Sales methodology. Moving through identifying customer pain points, available budget, and decision makers, Sandler reps optimize sales performance by ensuring their customers are a perfect fit for their solution.
Lead qualification is a key process of a sales enablement framework. In today’s digital world, salespeople can be overwhelmed with information from contacts that are actually a poor fit for their business. This is why lead scoring and qualification is such a valuable sales enablement process.
Ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and buyer personas are frameworks that support lead qualification. ICPs for sales are focused on the fit of the account and don’t go into much detail about the individuals your teams will encounter along the buyer journey.
In contrast, buyer personas provide structure and context by way of mapping out and curating content for the buyers and decision makers in that account. Sandler sales reps take both frameworks and push them to the brink, packing them with characteristics and data.
For example, identifying pain points is a common practice of building buyer personas, often answering surface-level questions like, “What is the biggest challenge your team/organization is currently facing?” Sandler sales reps take it a step further and get into deeper level questions: “How have you tried to solve this? How much has not fixing this cost you?” And, to really get into the psyche of their buyer, “How is this impacting you professionally? Personally?”
Putting more energy into qualification is what sets the Sandler Sales Method apart from other types of sales approaches. And it pays off too. When you align on buyer fit, you’re ultimately working with leads who want to buy your product. They want to be on this journey with you — it’s up to you to seize the day and deliver to win the deal.
Optimize Your Sales Performance Through Sales Enablement
Regardless of the sales methodology your organization adopts, Total Product Marketing can help with sales enablement content to support your sales process. Contact us today.