Is Your Sales Methodology an MVP or a Total Bust?

Want to know how your expansion-stage company’s sales methodology measures up? Our new direct sales assessment provides you with the questions you need to ask to determine where you really stand.

sales methodology

A little while ago, I worked with our OpenView Labs team to create an assessment for managers or executives that are in charge of a direct sales organization. The document ended up being fairly long and detailed, featuring a series of pointed questions related to things like target prospect and customer results, sales forecasting accuracy, economic model management, and sales methodology. And though the assessment is incredibly thorough, the goal was really to help VPs of Sales or sales managers answer two fairly simple — but important — questions: Where does your direct sales organization stand right now and where is it heading?

The assessment, graded on a scale of 1-to-10 (with one being an emphatic no and 10 being an emphatic yes), gauges everything from your confidence in forecasting new customer bookings to your understanding of how your target market segment views your company. In a perfect world, the answer to every query would be a 10. Unfortunately, that’s almost never the case.

Hey, we can’t all be as perfect as Los Angeles Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout or Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, can we? The truth is that your direct sales organization probably has weaknesses that could be addressed to make it more effective and efficient. Yes, even if it’s as insanely productive as the favorites to win Major League Baseball’s annual beauty pageant (also known as the MVP award). Of course, before you can work on improving, you need to know what those weaknesses are.

Curious how your expansion-stage company’s direct sales organization measures up?

In this post, I thought I’d share a small part of our assessment to give you an idea of its purpose. And because many expansion-stage companies’ direct sales organizations struggle with implementing a sales methodology that drives predictable results, strong renewal sales numbers, and efficient customer account management processes, I figured that’s a good place to start.

Here’s a sampling of some of the statements from the sales methodology portion of OpenView’s exclusive direct sales organization assessment. Don’t forget to grade your company on a scale of 1 (an emphatic no) to 10 (an emphatic yes) for each statement.

New Customer Acquisition Sales Process

Your company has a new customer sales process that is continuously improved upon, including:

  1. A well-defined, agreed-to, and objective definition of a lead that is ready for the sales cycle (i.e., an opportunity definition).
  2. A clear definition of a closed deal and an enforced process for ensuring the appropriate sign-offs.
  3. A clear understanding of conversion rates and times in the sales process, and a clear focus on the points in the sales process that have the greatest opportunities for improvement.
  4. A set of process goals and KPIs (including conversion rates, conversion times, number of opportunities, value of opportunities, etc.) that are published and reviewed by the sales team and senior management on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis.
  5. A process for gaining insightful, objective feedback from lost opportunities that allows your team to improve its sales process, sales units, salespeople, and other parts of the company (e.g., whole product).

Customer Onramping

Your direct sales organization can effectively and efficiently onramp new customers because:

  1. Your salespeople know how to hand off new customers to finance and the post-sale onramping group as the opportunity arrives at closure.
  2. Your team effectively implements the proper handoffs with each unique customer.
  3. Your sales group is confident that its new customers will be onramped in a way that maximizes value and minimizes time to value.
  4. Your customers’ expectations are consistently met or exceeded with your product and onramping process.

Customer Renewal and Account Management

You have a clear and efficient process for renewing customers in each renewal unit, and you:

  1. Understand and are able to identify the high potential accounts in each account management unit that have significant potential for upsell or cross-sell.
  2. Have a well-defined and executed account management process that optimizes your approach to those high potential accounts as it relates to both renewal and upsell/cross-sell activities.

So, how’d you do?

Again, don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t score 10s across the board. Very few companies — even the Mike Trouts and Miguel Cabreras of the direct sales world — are perfect. That being said, there’s no reason you shouldn’t aspire to improve your sales methodology if you didn’t score perfectly.

To use a baseball analogy again, you should think of your direct sales organization’s sales methodology as the heart of your batting order. If it isn’t as productive as it can or should be, then your direct sales organization won’t reach its true potential. Even worse, if your sales methodology is a total disaster, then your direct sales organization might look a little bit like the 2012 Boston Red Sox. And trust me, no expansion-stage business wants to be associated with that dumpster fire.

photo by: Keith Allison

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