‘What sales methodology do you train?’

It’s not unusual for me to be asked this in a networking scenario. I notice, for some reason, that the question really makes me bristle.

I understand where it’s coming from. People want proof or reassurance of some sort that my sales training will work – and for them a known methodology from a high-profile name gives that.

The thing is – and why it makes me bristle – is that the well-known methodologies are couched as formulas which, if applied perfectly, will get perfect results.

I know they will quote statistical proof gained from quantitative research to back this up. However, we’re dealing with people – beings who can pick up vibes, who can see beyond just words, who feel different on different days, whose circumstances are unique and who can sense inauthenticity.

I see it as being a bit like a virus. The highly trained, (by a methodology), salesperson has a run of success. Meanwhile, the buyers develop their vaccine – they learn how to combat the tactics that have been used – and they start to fend off the methodology. The salesperson has to adapt or change their methodology, (IE the virus), to overcome the vaccine! It’s not a pleasant analogy but I do think it reflects the sense of battle, of overcoming the prey that most sales methodologies describe.

Of course, it would be so much easier to say I train Spin Selling or the Miller Heiman method, (which always sounds like birth control to me!) What I really want to say is that I use the people method! The one where you create a connection, listen, understand, empathise, help solve their problem and deliver a great solution – often even better than they had imagined.

But that doesn’t fit so neatly onto the cover of a book!

What I tend to say is that I base my training on NLP techniques so that the people I train develop a naturally confident approach to the whole range of sales situations that they work with. Not a hint of a promise of birth control in there!

Those who have heard of NLP will get it and those who haven’t tend to be curious. It’s not a perfect description and it doesn’t deliver perfect results but then I don’t believe the well-known methodologies do either.

Am I alone in thinking this?

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