The Difference Between a Sales Process and a Sales Methodology – And Why You Need Both

Industry leaders recognise sales as the driving force of their organisation, which is why an optimised sales process is critical to success. However, many need to realise that a sales process and methodology are two very different things, and both are necessary for achieving peak performance.

Understanding the difference between a sales process and a sales methodology and how they work together is essential to create a successful sales strategy.

What’s the difference between a sales process and a sales methodology?

Even though they sound alike, there are subtle yet critical differences between a sales process and a sales methodology. Here’s a quick overview of each:

What is a sales process?

A sales process is the steps you take to move a potential customer through your sales funnel, from initial contact with a lead through nurturing and discovery to pitching and negotiating to the close.

A good sales process is tailored to the specific needs of your target market and product. It should be organised into a cohesive series of repeatable steps designed to close the deal and increase revenue.

Your company sales process will be unique to your organisation, shaped by past practices, company history and structure, and the nature of your industry.

What is a sales methodology?

A sales methodology is the overarching approach or framework you use to guide your sales process. In other words, it’s the philosophy behind how you do things in your business, or put more simply, the “how” behind the “why” of your sales process.

While a sales process is usually developed within your company, a sales methodology can be any number of approaches or philosophies your business adopts and chooses to apply in concert with the process.

It is common to adopt a different methodology for specific stages of the sales process because the needs of each step are unique.

For example, the Awareness stage generates leads and gets potential customers interested in your product or service.

The Consideration stage is when prospects compare your offering to others in the market and start to narrow down their options.

And finally, the Decision stage is when prospects are ready to purchase and choose the vendor they want to work with.

Since the needs and goals for each stage in the selling process are different, it only makes sense that you might choose the specific methodology that best complements that stage.

For instance, the SPIN selling technique may be the best methodology to use when working through the awareness and consideration stage of your sales funnel due to its focus on communication.

The point is that no one size fits all, so it is up to you and your team to decide which strategy works best to create a reliable, streamlined process.

Why you need both a process and a methodology for your sales strategy

While a sales process is a series of steps to move a prospective buyer from initial contact to closed sale, a sales methodology is the framework or system you use to manage and execute your sales process.

In other words, your sales methodology provides the roadmap for your sales process. A well-defined sales process will help you close more deals, but without a robust sales methodology, your team will likely struggle to consistently follow the steps in your process.

Likewise, a sales methodology that’s not adequately mapped to your process can leave reps feeling lost, leading to a drop in performance and loss of customers.

Without a methodology, a sales process is nothing more than a grocery list; without a process, a methodology is nothing more than good intentions with no way to make them happen.

So how do you create a sales process and methodology that work together?

There are several factors to consider when creating a cohesive sales strategy incorporating both sales process and methodology.

1. Define your ideal customer profile

The first step is to put on your detective hat and slip into the mindset of your target audience. This will help you determine the leads most convertible into customers. An ideal customer profile includes factors such as:

  • Demographics: age, gender, location, income, etc.
  • Psychographics: interests, lifestyle, personality type, etc.
  • Firmographics: company size, industry, revenue, etc.

2. Identify your key selling points

Before selling anything, you must zero in on the key selling points of your product or service. These crucial details are the unique features of your product or service that will appeal to your target customer base.

To identify your key selling points, ask yourself what makes your product special. What can you offer that your competitors cannot? How does your product or service benefit customers? Once you’ve identified these critical factors, you can begin to craft your sales strategy.

3. Map out your buyers’ journey

During this strategy development stage, you need to step into your buyer’s shoes and understand their thoughts and feelings at each stage of their decision-making process.

Only then can you create the right content, offer the best solutions, and provide the appropriate level of support to help them move from one stage to the next until they’re finally ready to buy.

4. Create measurable milestones for each stage of the sale

You must assess your progress to identify weak spots and tweak your sales strategy. Therefore, it is crucial to build measurable milestones for each stage of the sales process.

By having clearly defined stages, you can track your progress and ensure that each step of the sale is completed before moving on to the next. The sales process typically consists of variations of these stages:

  • Prospecting: generating leads and identifying potential customers
  • Qualifying: determining whether a lead is a good fit for your product or service
  • Needs Analysis: understanding the customer’s needs and requirements
  • Solution Presentation: presenting the customer with a solution that meets their needs
  • Closing: negotiating and agreeing on terms and getting the customer to sign on the dotted line
  • Post-Sale Service: following up with the customer after the sale is complete

Grow your business by following these tips

The benefits of developing a comprehensive and cohesive sales strategy utilising both a sales process and complimentary methodologies are clear. Following the steps above will create and nurture new business, generate more leads, and increase sales revenue exponentially.

At Ellivate, we recognise that by creating a sales system utilising both processes and methodologies, incorporating that system into your workflow, and consistently assessing and improving the system, you will close more deals, accelerate your sales cycle, and increase your win rate.

Contact us today to Go Next Level with your sales strategy.

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