To have an outline – these are the three elementary pillars (structure) of any B2B sales methodology documents:
- What do we sell to whom?
- How do we sell step-by-step?
- What techniques, tools and templates do we use during and after?
What do we sell to whom?
All story must start somewhere so this part must approach the topic starting with a historical overview. But our product or service is coming from our company so we should start with the historical overview of our company first.
Historical basics for sales newbies
To write this chapter imagine a junior sales rep who has just graduated from university. And he is on his first day at your company. And you want to give him the big picture of your company. (Probably you use some sort of a starter kit for your new colleagues, explaining the basics about your company culture. If you have such starter kit then you just need to focus on the sales specifics.)
I can almost always surprise the CEOs I work with by demonstrating how many of their colleagues know literally nothing about the backgrounds or origins of their companies simply because the historical basics are so obvious for the old comrades that nobody has ever taken the trouble to write it down for the newcomers.
Now, what does this have to do with our sales? Why don’t we want our sales reps knowing less about their own company then our clients’? (Imagine if you could surprise your doctor by explaining the historical background of a treatment that he has never heard of! Would you still want him to treat you?)
Your sales reps will meet senior decision makers of your industry. Don’t embarrass yourself and your brand by sending your ‘troops’ to negotiate without the proper intel and background about their own company they are trying to represent!
So this chapter should have many things that are not necessarily on our webpage:
- Who started our company and why?
- What was the initial ownership structure and how we ended up with the current one?
- What were the major HR milestones in our company’s history?
- Why do we have our current HR structure the way it is?
(As the first thing every salesperson questions is the HR structure of the sales department.)
- Any other historically relevant fact of our company that the market knows about us, so our sales newbies should also know…
What do we sell?
Probably boring and obvious for most of us to explain the very thing that fills most of our lives, but even the way we articulate the obvious could lead to new discoveries and realizations.
- What is the history of our flagship product/service?
- What influences made our product/service to evolve the way it is today?
- Product description
- What is our current revenue structure?
- What is the financial priority order / profitability of our products/services?
- What is our tricky product/service?
(services and/or products serving sales, marketing or emotional (!) purposes regardless of their profitabilities)
To whom do we sell?
This chapter is about our clients. Seems easy but this can have major influence on the future way of thinking of our sales colleagues. Imagine the everlasting respect of our ancestors towards their prey. That is the right angle to take when you start describing your clients. A respectful and honoring approach towards your clients in all sales documents can prevent a destructive, disrespectful atmosphere to develop at the sales department.
All the successful companies I worked with considered and understood the importance of the next statement:
“…Our access to our clients is the only thing between our prosperity and our extinction…”
- What are our markets?
- What is the priority order of our markets?
- What is our typical client profile?
The description of a typical client profile (industry, size, revenue, number of employees etc.) who buys from us.
- What are the typical issues we look for to help?
- How do we classify our client types?
- What is our current market analysis?
- What do we know about the trends of our market?
How do we actually sell?
And now we are about to cover all relevant tasks of a hands on salesperson:
- How do we find our new clients? (lead sources)
- What signs are we looking for to identify a lead?
- What seasonality do we have in lead generation, sales processes and product or service deliveries?
- What marketing tools does our company use?
- What marketing tools are used by the sales team?
- Who are the lead development participants?
- What is our lead qualification process?
- How do we identify a possible source person?
- How do we identify a decision influencer?
- How do we identify a decision maker?
- How do we prepare to personal engagements with our prospects?
- How do we approach them? (sales techniques)
- Whom do we send to battle?
- How do we select our sales teams per client?
- Who are our sales process participants?
- What are the major external steps in our sales process?
- What are the internal decision making points during our sales process?
- How long is our average sales cycle?
- How do we select the right sales pitches / messages to use?
- What is our statistically most successful argument(s) to our leads?
(commodity game = pricing, differentiators = high added values / added services, etc…)
- How do we collect intel about our competitors?
- What do we know about the goals of our competitors?
- What is our current competitive analysis?
- Who are the contracting process participants?
- What are the contracting process steps?
- How do we actually help?
(project, service, product delivery process)
- What problem do we solve?
Our software or service benefits our clients because without it they would have this and that problem…
- How do we change the way our clients work/think/evolve?
- What do our salespeople do during our service/product delivery…etc?
- What are the major goals in our account management?
- How do we secure our status at the client?
- How do we generate add-on sales opportunities?
- How do we harvest recommendations/new leads from our clients?
- Who are the account management participants?
- How do we follow up/monitor our accounts?
- What is our communication frequency after sales?
Sales Techniques, Tools and Templates
There are many different definitions of sales techniques. Mine is close to sales communication channels: Sales technique is a specific form of communication. According to this definition in the 21st century we basically have 4 forms of communication:
- Written communication
- General asynchronous materials
(webpages, whitepapers, blog posts, social posts/updates, newsletters etc.)
- Customized asynchronous materials
(personal emails, presentations, proposals etc.)
- Customized synchronous materials
(instant messages, chats etc.)
- General asynchronous materials
- Video communication
- General asynchronous video materials
- Customized synchronous materials
- General asynchronous video materials
- Voice/video call communication
(phone, video call, VoIP, etc.)
- Personal communication
- Presentations (with Q&A sessions)
- Formal personal meetings
- Informal personal meetings
- Short chats at events
All of our sales force must be familiar with all our general materials.
Communication Skills of our Sales Team
Our sales management needs to identify the necessary skills of our sales team regarding sales material creation. As we must form a team responsible for the maintenance of our materials. (Do not allow out of touch marketing people to lead the creation and maintenance of our sales materials as our salespeople must have a close relationship with the weapons they use each day!)
Custom Content Creation
In an ideal case all our sales staff must be able to create customized materials to make calls, write custom emails etc.
General Content Creation
Creating general sales content is a senior level skill-set according to my experience.
Being good at personal communication, presenting and socializing does not necessarily have close connection with seniority. In many cases a well prepared junior or medium level colleague can thrive in personal situations where our best senior sales people could get too bored, uninterested or too detailed, too techy.
The rule of thumb in personal communication is that the best movie actors are not necessarily good directors or good screen-play writers.
There are technical sales tools helping our sales activity. These are very specific to each company and each sales portfolio. In our sales methodology we must include the manuals of all of our sales tools like CRM systems, Social network softwares, mobile apps, mobile devices, etc.
This chapter must be a collection of links to sample documents and templates. Such as call scripts, email structures, meeting agendas, proposal structures, etc.
Once you know the DOs and DON’T DOs of your sales communication you must create the related templates and scripts. They don’t have to be mini-books, Many times a 10-bullet-point list can do the job for a meeting agenda or a call script. And a good list of content with some copy-paste-able previous documents is enough for a good proposal. The point is to have a unified appearance and a quality assured content.
What your sales can avoid with creating these documents is to waste any sales communication with clients that are not moving the sales process forward. For instance when it is not clear for our sales rep what are the (let’s say) 5 pieces of information he needs to get from the first sales meeting with an influencer or what are the (let’s say) 4 messages to deliver when he meets a decision maker.
When our salespeople waste time and precious communication opportunities it is ineffective and one of the most expensive waste of resources for our company.
These are the must-haves:
- First email templates to gatekeepers
- Cold call scripts
- prospecting call script
- sales call script
- follow-up call script
- Sales meeting agendas
- First meeting with prospect source – agenda
- First meeting with influencer – agenda
- First meeting with decision maker – agenda
- Sales meeting minutes (meeting memo) templates
- Proposal related templates
- Proposal doc
- Proposal-attached email
- Proposal reception call script
- Proposal follow-up email
- Proposal overview meeting agenda
If you have some elementary statistics of your sales, these type of scripts and agenda templates will help your sales performance the most:
- the top 10 best performing starter sentences in a cold-call
- the 5 questions to ask in our first meeting with a lead source/influencer/decision maker
- the 3 important facts about our company to state for a decision maker at a personal meeting (custom sales pitches)