When sales leaders decide it's time to improve their sales force, it’s hard to know where to start. Why? Probably because of the mind-boggling number of sales methodologies at their disposal. Google “sales methodology books,” and you will find post after post listing the “50 Sales Books You Should Read Right Now!” Yeah, it’s overwhelming just thinking about it.
At their core, sales methodologies are about achieving sales growth by strengthening your team and increasing revenue. So why not start with developing the individual reps of your teams?
In this blog post, we take a deep dive into agility—the quality that high-performing sellers have—and how you can coach your reps to achieve agility.
What Does It Mean To Be Agile?
In 2012, the Florida State University Sales Institute conducted a major study to identify the best sales methodology (VantagePoint Performance has an excellent breakdown).
A few of the biggest findings include:
- High performers were challenger sellers who are more assertive in their approach.
- The lowest performers were relationship sellers or sellers who focus primarily on serving as a partner to the buyer.
- The top 10-15 percent of performers used different strategies depending on the situation.
This last point is an excellent illustration of what it means to be agile, which means adapting behavior based on the situation.
To become agile, sales reps must adapt three main traits:
- Situational intelligence: Gathering data on previous engagements.
- Situational readiness: Using standard operating procedures based on data from previous engagements.
- Situational fluency: Observing, orienting, deciding, and acting.
Now, let’s apply this to sales.
Coaching Toward Agility in Sales
Being agile starts with understanding that no one sales methodology will fit every sale. The approach must be adjusted based on the situation at hand, meaning sales reps need to learn how to break down a situation, apply selling patterns, and practice, practice, practice.
Sellers who want to become more agile need to dig into the five buying factors present in nearly every buying situation:
- Problem awareness, or the ability to identify the problem a potential buyer is facing.
- Competitive landscape, or a structured approach to identifying and researching competitors.
- Customer dynamics, or an understanding of how to interact with customers.
- Buying process, or the series of steps that the potential buyer will take to get to the purchase.
- Solution definition, or the ability to identify the right solution based on the situation.
From there, they are ready to apply the right selling behavior.
There are four primary patterns of selling behavior:
- Consultative selling prioritizes relationships and open dialogue to provide solutions to a potential buyer’s needs.
- Disruptive selling, also known as challenger selling, is any selling technique that is bold or out of the ordinary.
- Financial selling emphasizes the cost, ROI, and other financial factors of the sale.
- Competitive selling emphasizes why the rep’s company is better than its competitors.
High performers use the situation to determine which pattern will be more effective and adjust accordingly, while low performers tend to use only one of these selling behaviors.
So, when should sellers apply these different behaviors? It requires recognizing the buying situation and applying the right strategy:
- If a customer wants to maximize their budget, a financial strategy would be most applicable.
- If a customer knows what they want but has a shortlist of vendors, the rep should apply a competitive strategy.
- If a customer is open to collaboration, a consultative approach is best.
So how can a sales rep infuse these approaches into their ongoing sales practices?
Becoming an agile seller takes time and practice. It’s not just about having experience—it’s about looping back on the process to ensure the right behaviors are developed and applied to the appropriate sale.
Although most sellers hit arrested development at consultative selling, agile sellers can engage in different selling behaviors and challenge themselves through deliberate practices.
These practices look like:
- Setting clear, specific goals, such as understanding buying factors and assessing the buying situation.
- Receiving feedback from a manager through a 1:1 meeting in which behavior metrics are discussed.
- Pushing beyond your comfort zone; in other words, not worrying about being an expert and spending more time in the curiosity zone, discovering new ways to sell and interact with customers.
Just as athletes run drills on the field and musicians run their scales, salespeople need to practice choosing the right sales strategies for the situation.
Foster Agile Selling with Atrium
Sales growth starts with developing your reps, meaning you need to track their performance to understand what must change.
By utilizing a data-driven sales management platform like Atrium, you get access to data on performance metrics, allowing you to track the process of top-performing sellers, improve individual reps, and set a standard for high performance.
Power up your data-driven sales management in less than 90 seconds! Sign up here. 🚀