A Look at Sales Methodologies With a Game-Changing Impact on Revenue Performance


Sales methodologies implemented and adopted effectively can have a game-changing impact on revenue performance. Jake Sorofman, president, MetaCX takes a look at understanding the relative performance of different methodologies, adoption and usage by different functions and teams, and how these methodologies are implemented and operationalized.

Solution Selling, Challenger, Miller Heiman – these are examples of specific types of sales methodologies that B2B companies often employ to help elevate the average level of quota attainment and overall sales performance across a team of sellers. The idea is simple: Apply best practices that outline how sellers approach each phase of the sales process, including the steps that are taken; the criteria for advancing a deal; and the process for identifying and validating customer pains, defining and proposing solutions, and measuring value realization.

But implementing and operationalizing these methodologies are anything but simple.

Over the course of my career, I’ve participated in probably half a dozen formal sales methodology implementations. While the scope of these efforts varied depending on the size and sophistication of the company, each was a substantial undertaking in its own right, including weeks or months of effort from cross-functional participants at every level of the business.

Each also involved a substantial change in business process and daily habits and behaviors — a change that doesn’t come easy for many individuals and organizations.

So why do companies volunteer to take on what are, in effect, major transformations and change management exercises? Because when these methodologies are implemented and adopted effectively, they can have a game-changing impact on revenue performance.

In the summer of 2020, MetaCX and Revenue Collective surveyed 400 customer and revenue leaders with North American B2B SaaS companies to understand the relative performance of different methodologies, adoption, and usage by different functions and teams, how these methodologies are implemented and operationalized, and the various roles and stakeholders associated with these initiatives.

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Respondents told us a lot of interesting things — some we expected, some we hadn’t, and several things that caused us to raise an eyebrow. Here are a few things we heard.

1. Executives Are More Bullish About the Performance and Impact of Their Company’s Sales Methodologies Than Less Senior Counterparts

Where you stand on sales methodology effectiveness depends on where you sit. More than half of executives feel their sales methodology is having a game-changing impact, which is different than those on the front lines. While they’re not wholly dissatisfied with the impact of these methodologies, they’re less bullish, with 52% of executives saying their methodologies are “highly effective,” compared to 39% of individual contributors. This difference is likely attributable to asymmetric benefits often found in sales tools and methodologies where the value accrues disproportionately to those managing the function rather than those performing the function. It’s worth keeping in mind the need to ensure that the value of these initiatives accrues to both managers and the frontline sellers who are forced to undertake the most significant behavioral changes.

2. Value Engineering Has Come of Age, With Formalized Functions Found in More Than Half of Companies

Value engineering is the systematic method of building and proving strong business cases for the purchase and renewal of software and digital products. While the discipline is by no means new, as a formalized function, it has typically been found in only the largest or most progressive organizations. According to this survey, that’s no longer the case. In fact, more than half of organizations reported having a formalized value engineering function, with roughly two-thirds or more reporting having this function in the presence of a strategic sales motion and/or in a very large sales organization. The survey also suggested that these teams have an outsized positive impact on sales methodology effectiveness, with a 13-point spread between companies that do and don’t have a value engineering function in their perception of game-changing impact.

3. Of All Customer-Facing Functions Outside of Sales, Customer Success Teams Are the Least Likely To Adopt These Sales Methodologies

As you would probably expect, sales teams reported near-constant engagement with their sales methodologies. But what about other customer-facing and revenue-generating functions like marketing, customer success, and professional services? Truthfully, we expected customer success, of all roles, to be the most aligned with the sales methodology, given the importance of this function in driving retention and lifetime value. Customer success teams were the least likely to engage with the sales methodology, with 39% of respondents reporting that customer success teams have “little or no engagement,” compared with 9% of marketing and 25% of professional services teams saying the same thing. Consider the implications of this for a moment. Every recurring revenue business depends on renewal and expansion. To achieve this, sales and CS need to be joined at the hip from the beginning to ensure what sellers promise aligns with what the company delivers and what CS proves to justify the renewal.

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4. How You Apply a Sales Methodology Is More Important Than Which One You Adopt

You might recall the classic recurring “News from Lake Wobegon” segment on NPR’s Prairie Home Companion, where every child was reported to be above average. The same can be said for the sales methodologies we asked about: With no material exception, they all performed admirably in the eyes of respondents. It’s actually not a huge surprise because when you inspect the details of various branded sales methodologies, you see that they have more in common than not. In fact, while some of the terminologies are different, the structure and principles are often pretty much the same. While we saw minor differences at the margins, very few respondents had a strong negative sentiment about any of the methodologies we asked about — which led us to conclude that how you put a sales methodology to practice matters much more than which one you use.

Ultimately, a standardized approach to how you sell can pay major dividends for a revenue organization. But the devil is in the details. Change of this magnitude doesn’t come without a price. And it isn’t something you buy off the shelf. It requires a thoughtful and diligent approach to driving adoption and managing change across your organization.