Do any of the following characterize your IT staffing firm’s sales organization?
- One (or two) top performers bringing in 80 percent of the revenue?
- Unpredictable sales performance and sales results with new hires once they complete training?
- “Wild, wild, west syndrome,” where each sales rep does his or her or own thing (you value the “art of the sale” over “science of the sales”)?
- Sales reps who excel at certain aspects of selling, such as rapport building, but absolutely struggle with others, such as qualifying leads or asking open-ended probing questions?
- Sales managers who struggle to provide consistent coaching?
As I meet and work with IT staffing owners around the country, I’ve come to realize that most firms try to hire salespeople with industry experience and/or a “proven track record.” They hire them, provide company and CRM/ATS training, have them shadow a top performer on sales calls and sales appointments, and then leave it up to them to go figure it out. To those I ask, how is that working out for you?
I’m a big believer in hiring talented professionals, but from my experience, I have found that talent, including those tenured sales reps with industry experience, are far more likely to succeed if there is a well-coordinated and repeatable sales methodology for them to follow.
If your revenues are flat, growth has stalled, results are inconsistent rep-to-rep, and/or you feel you should be getting more revenue out of your existing sales reps but you’re just not sure how, than it is probably time for a change. But where can you turn to in order to fix these issues and scale your business? The answer (to me anyway) is clear: Your firm needs a sales methodology.
Implementing a sales sales methodology is an important decision that spells out exactly how you want your sales team to engage with your prospects and customers and how you want them to qualify. Your sales methodology defines how your sales reps will move buyers from one stage of the sales cycle to the next in the same consistent manner. (If you don’t have clearly-defined stages for your sales cycle,
For example, top performing staffing firms have a methodology for how they present candidates to the hiring manager. I have a client that I’m currently working with where one of their sales reps has close to a 60 percent candidate submittal-to-interview ratio. Pretty damn good! But this same client has several other reps who only get interviews on 20 to 30 percent of their candidate submittals. Wouldn’t it be great if they could just clone the sales rep who gets interviews on 60 percent of his submittals? A sales methodology will do just that!
What is a Sales Methodology?
- A sales process defines the steps that a sales rep and a customer need to take to complete the purchasing process, from opportunity to close.
- A sales methodology describes how to execute each step within your sales process and move a prospect from one stage to the next in the sales cycle.
For your IT staffing firm to scale, you need both. While some firms have a fairly well-defined sales process (the steps they follow to make a sale), most lack user adoption, and even more lack a sales methodology (how to execute those steps). This is a shame because in the overcrowded IT staffing industry where buyers have all of the power, they judge you on how you present yourself and how you engage them; your sales methodology is how you differentiate from the competition.
Think about it, if you have no sales process or a generic sales process and no sales methodology for executing you are basically saying you can sell tractors and lawn mowing equipment the same way as you do to IT staffing, or airplanes, or chemicals, or mutual funds, or cupcakes for that matter! It makes no sense. Here are 3 reasons a good sales methodology will help your IT staffing firm scale.
1. A Sales Methodology Will Accelerate New Hire Training and Time to Productivity
Instead of waiting for your new sales reps-even the tenured salespeople-to figure it out, provide them with proven set of best practices and proven approaches that you already know work. Give them a sales methodology to follow from day one.
With a sales methodology to follow, your new reps will “figure it out” much quicker. They will be following a proven approach and you will accelerate your new hire training and time to productivity (ramp-up time).
2. A Sales Methodology Will Bring Consistency to How You Sell
One clear and common symptom of a lack of a sales methodology is wildly uneven performance from sales reps. One or two reps carry 80 percent or more of the revenue while the rest struggle to even pay for their seats.
When your firm follows a sales methodology based on best practices consistently from lead to lead and opportunity to opportunity, you will improve your sales effectiveness and efficiency. You will land more appointments with new prospects, get new job orders from new hiring managers, and close more deals more often and increase your deal size without having to increase your sales activity output.
Let’s take the initial qualifying connect call (cold call). When our clients go through our sales methodology training, we teach them exactly:
- How to prepare for the call.
- What specifically to say.
- How to say it.
- When to say it.
- What questions to ask (and when).
- What to say to set up the next step.
What this means is, when making a qualifying call, every rep is preparing the same way, saying the same thing at the same time. They know how to say it (tonality), what questions to ask, and when. The prevailing wisdom in the IT staffing industry is that the only way you can make more deals is to make more calls. A good sales methodology turns that idea on its head.
3. A Sales Methodology Enables Consistent, Predictable, and Scalable Training
I have written in the past about why shadow training is the worse kind of training. When a new hire learns primarily through one of your top producers, he or she will have a limited view into the ideal approaches and best practices for moving a prospect across each stage of the sales cycle. Again, all top performers have weaknesses and bad habits.
You should construct your sales training and sales onboarding program around the your sales methodology. This will ensure that all your sales reps — no matter where they’re based geographically or how much experience they have — get trained in the same, consistent manner and they get trained to follow and use the same sales techniques.
Just as importantly, this enables your sales training to be scalable. You can train thousands of reps concurrently, regardless of skill level, location or experience. And, the results and outcomes are predictable. You know exactly how each rep is moving each prospect from one stage of the sales cycle to the next. You know exactly what to expect from each sales rep when they complete sales methodology training.
Without a sales methodology, you can’t determine what is working and what is not working across your sales team. At best, you can only conclude that “X method works for Dan” and “Y method works for Jim.” You can’t scale a business with this model. And hiring superstars or "A players" is also not a scalable solution.
And what if you are like most IT staffing firms today trying to hire new sales reps by the handful? Shadow training, including “rep rides,” is not scalable.
How many new hires can feasibly shadow your top performer at a time? With a sales methodology, trends will emerge which will tell the sales leader where and how to tweak and pivot, if at all.
With a sales methodology, successful sales tactics become easier to replicate, allowing your firm to scale and grow. The salespeople who follow your sales methodology will know when they've successfully completed the steps in the sales process to move forward.
How to Get an Effective Sales Methodology for Your Firm
Are you convinced (or at least intrigued) that a good sales methodology will help you scale your IT staffing firm? Find out everything you need to know to find and deploy a sales methodology in our recent ebook, “Sales Methodology 101 for IT Staffing Firms: Your 6 Big Questions Answered.”