Most IT staffing firms have no idea how to replicate their sales success. If pressed, even the most successful sales reps would have trouble pinpointing exactly what makes them so successful. It just comes instinctively.
For the hundreds of small IT staffing firms across the country stuck below their revenue goals and trying to scale, this is a problem.
It’s one thing to take a deal from opportunity to close. It’s another thing entirely to identify the steps you went through and the techniques and tools you used along the way, so that other people can replicate your success. This is what sales strategists, sales trainers, and sales effectiveness consultants like me talk about when we talk about a sales methodology.
If 80 percent of your firm’s revenue is coming from 20 percent of your reps, clearly the winning tactics your top reps use are not making their way to the rest of the team.
Take a closer look at how your top few reps have performed over the last six or eight months. Pay attention to the following metrics.
Now look at your entire team in each of these areas. How do your core performers compare to your top performers? Are the results all over the map? If so then your numbers are telling you it is time to implement a sales methodology.
Imagine how your revenue would grow and your business would scale if you could improve the overall effectiveness of your entire team.
Does this sound familiar? Your headquarters in Boston is growing revenue at a steady clip while your Dallas branch bounces up and down — and your D.C. branch can’t seem to get off the ground at all.
Why is there such a discrepancy between locations? It’s not because there’s less demand for IT staffing services in those areas. All indications are that IT staffing is a healthy industry, expected by most experts to continue to grow.
The problem here is that every rep, at every location, is doing their own thing. Some reps are more effective than others, but none of them have a consistent methodology guiding their actions. Without consistency, IT staffing firms can’t scale. Lack of a sales methodology is one of the primary reasons so many firms have plateaued, despite the huge opportunity in the industry.
How is it possible that a sales rep selling the same services for the same company to virtually the same customers is averaging 22 percent gross profit margins and your other sales rep is averaging 27 or even 30 percent gross profit margins? Lack of a sales methodology.
Just imagine the impact on your bottom line if all of your reps averaged 27 percent margins!
The concept of a sales methodology can be confusing. It’s especially confusing when sales experts like me throw around similar-sounding terms like “sales process.”
Here, we’ll delve into some of the details, answering some of the most common questions IT staffing professionals like you have about sales methodologies.
In one of my recent ebooks, “5 Ways to Drastically Overhaul Your Sales Training Program and Boost ROI,” I noted that one of the first things you should do to improve your IT staffing firm’s sales program is to map out your sales process. If you read that ebook, you’re probably thinking, “I’ve done that, so I’m all set. Right?”
Wrong. The concepts are related, but having a sales process does not mean you have a sales methodology — or vice versa.
Think of your sales process like a map. A map will show you the route from point A to point B, but if you encounter an obstacle along the way, your map won’t help you get past it. Simply knowing your destination lies over a tall mountain isn’t enough. To get over that mountain, you need climbing equipment and the skills to use them. That’s your sales methodology.
My partner here at Menemsha Group, Gerry Gadoury, explains that a sales methodology is “externally focussed,” that is, “It expresses how you engage your prospects and your customers.” Because of this, your sales methodology emerges naturally from your sales philosophy and values.
For example, at Menemsha Group, we firmly believe that IT staffing prospects expect the time they spend with a salesperson to be a valuable use of their time. So when you look at our call plans, how we execute a call, or how we conduct a sales meeting, you’ll see our emphasis is always on providing value.
On any map, there are a million different ways to get from point A to point B. It’s the individual steps along the way that make all the difference. In the IT staffing business, customers judge you on how you present yourself and how you engage them; your methodology is how you differentiate from the competition.
Here are three other ways having a sales methodology will help your IT staffing firm achieve sustainable, repeatable growth:
Most IT staffing 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. Instead of waiting for your reps to figure it out you can accelerate new hire time to productivity by providing them with a proven set of best practices and approaches that you already know works.
Train new reps on your sales methodology and reinforce the training by giving them a sales playbook that supports your methodology on day one. Armed with a sales methodology, your new reps will “figure it out” much quicker.
This approach is also scalable; you can put as many reps through methodology training at the same time as you need. With shadow training, how many new hires can feasibly shadow your top performer at the same time?
Finally, training your new hires on a proven methodology will deliver predictable results. Without a sales methodology you can’t determine what is working and what is not working across your sales team.
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 close more deals more often and increase your deal size without having to increase your sales activity output.
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.
You can construct a new hire onboarding and training program around the execution of your sales methodology. This will ensure that all your sales reps — no matter where they’re based geographically — get trained in the same, consistent manner and they get trained to follow and use the same sales techniques.
With a sales methodology, successful sales tactics become easier to replicate, allowing your firm to scale and grow. The reps that follow your sales methodology will know when they’ve successfully completed the steps in the sales process to move forward.
According to one Accenture study, sales reps who use a sales methodology 90 percent of the time achieve 70 percent of their targets. On top of that, the study found, 92 percent of reps who consistently used a sales methodology achieved their quota. We’ve found that, on average, only 50 percent of IT staffing sales reps are meeting quota. What percentage of your sales reps are meeting or exceeding quota?
The example below shows a sales methodology in action. On the left, a sales rep without a methodology struggles to get a follow-up meeting with a prospect. The rep on the right, on the other hand, is following a sales methodology that dictates she should always provide value in her interactions with prospects. Which rep do you think will move the deal forward?
With a sales methodology, win rates go up, sales cycles are shortened, sales reps meet their quotas, and the entire team feels confident no matter what situation they find themselves in with prospects. This is why one of the IT staffing firms we worked with, Selectek, was able to increase revenue by over $1 million and gross profits by 26 percent within a year after implementing our sales methodology.
So now you know what a sales methodology is, why your IT staffing firm needs one, and how it will help you achieve your revenue growth goals. But how, exactly, do you go about building your sales methodology?
Let’s assume you’re at the stage of the sales cycle in which your customer must schedule an interview with your candidate. Your sales methodology might detail any of the following:
As you can see, a well-defined sales methodology can get very specific for each step in the sales process. The more specific it is, the more repeatable — and therefore trainable — it is.
At Menemsha Group, we help IT staffing firms implement a sales methodology that includes four main “buckets,” with detailed steps for each area: new account development, opportunity management, key account development, and sales metrics.
It’s human nature to resist change — perhaps for sales reps most of all. But If no one follows your sales methodology, it won’t have much practical value for your IT staffing firm. How do you get your existing team of set-in-their-ways sales reps to follow your new methodology?
The most common mistake made by companies when they implement a new methodology — or a new anything, really — is overemphasizing the design and launch of the program and under-emphasizing what comes after. In other words, they are not prepared for the amount of effort it takes to sustain and reinforce the change so it permeates the entire organization.
Remember, change is a process, not an event. Sweeping edicts handed down from the corner office don’t usually get very far. As a leader, you need to map out what your sales team can expect from their managers, including how they’ll be supported, how they’ll be coached, and how they’ll be evaluated on what they’ve learned in their training on the new methodology.
For change to take hold, everyone, from the top on down, needs to be bought in and on board.
(For a more detailed discussion of the concept of change management and how it applies to IT staffing firms, read my recent article, “How to Train a Sales Team the Doesn’t Want to Change.”)
In question 5, I described a process for building your own sales methodology. Understandably, most IT staffing firms have neither the time, the resources, nor the expertise to complete this process on their own. Very few IT staffing firms have a sales methodology which is why it is so difficult for them to differentiate while the most successful IT staffing firms either built their own or use a third party sales methodology.
So which third-party methodology should you choose?
There are a number of well-known and widely-practiced “general purpose” sales methodologies on the market. You may have heard of some of them: SPIN Selling, Solution Selling, the Challenger Sale. These approaches all have their strengths and weaknesses, but here’s their biggest weakness: They’re designed for companies that are selling multi-million dollar solutions. Does that sound like your IT staffing firm?
At Menemsha group, we have designed a proven methodology exclusively for selling IT staffing services. I created our sales methodology after spending more than 15 years selling and leading sales teams in the IT staffing and consulting industry. It works for anyone selling IT staffing services in a customer facing role — rookie or veteran — who wants to demonstrate value to their customers.
Our sales methodology is designed to minimize customer objections, uncover customer needs, and build value for the customer while providing insights into how buying decisions are made. For your sales team, it will provide genuine skill development in a variety of areas, along with a platform for making permanent changes in sales behaviors.
To learn more about Menemsha Group’s sales and recruiter enablement solution including how we leverage innovative technology and modern learning methods to make winning behaviors repeatable and deliver predictable revenue growth, download our eBook, Menemsha Group’s Sales & Recruiter Enablement Roadmap for Scalable Growth. In the eBook you will discover the tools, technologies, techniques, methodologies, content and processes we employ to help staffing and recruiting firms attain scalable, repeatable success.