THE PROBLEM WITH THE TRADITIONAL VIEW OF THE SALES FUNNEL
Does this sound familiar to you?…………. “It’s month end, please will you all update all your opportunities in the CRM system, it is important.”
If the CRM system is supposed to be the key tool to helping the sales team close more business, why is it so often considered by sales professionals as an admin chore to keep it up to date?
Fundamentally for me, this is because most CRM implementations take an inward-looking view of the sales journey and have a fixation on the sales funnel and its various stages. Let me explain and in order to do this we need to go back in time. IBM were one of the first companies to develop a sales qualification metric; BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe).
- Budget: – Does the prospect have a budget and if so, how much?
- Authority: – Do we have access to the decision-maker?
- Need: – Does the prospect have a clearly articulated business need?
- Timeframe: – When does the prospect intend to implement a solution?
It’s still in quite wide use today, across a wide variety of sales organisations. But in today’s complex B2B sales environment relying on BANT as your primary qualification metric has some serious flaws. BANT assumes there is only one buyer in the process, but the likes of Gartner and Hinge suggest that in today’s world between 5 & 7 people will be involved in the buying decision, which means your qualification metrics need to be more sophisticated. A literal implementation of BANT encourages salespeople to focus on only fully funded and defined projects, meaning someone else must have helped shape the buyer’s thinking.
Over time, other sales methodologies have been developed which have tried to address some of the short comings of BANT. There is CHAMP which stands for Challenges, Authority, Money and Prioritisation and the Rain Group introduced us to FAINT; Funds, Authority, Interest, Needs and Timing. In the 1990’s Jack Napoli and Richard Dunkel launched their methodology; MEDDIC. In case you are unsure, here is what it means;
- Metrics – are there specific measurable business outcomes your customer requires the project to deliver?
- Economic Buyer – is there person or group with final decision authority over whether and how the project goes ahead?
- Decision Criteria – are there criteria that the customer will use to decide between their potential solution options?
- Decision Process – is there a process and timetable the customer will follow when deciding which option to choose, and who will be involved?
- Identify Pain – is the customer’s current or anticipated pain that will cause them to take urgent action
- Champion – is about whether you have a powerful and enthusiastic champion within the organisation
In my mind it was a significant step forward in looking at the sales process. Many of the preceding methodologies focused on handling objections and closing the deal, whilst MEDDIC attempted to look at making sure you were selling to the right people at the right time.
Let me say straight away I’m a fan of MEDDIC. Over the years it has been adapted and added to, attempting to make it more relevant to the complexities of B2B selling. Which brings me back to my opening question, if we have a relevant sales methodology like MEDDIC, why do so many salespeople view their CRM system and the updating of it as simply an admin activity that must be done at month end and not a tool that can help them be more successful?
Over the years I have used and implemented multiple CRM systems, Siebel, Oracle, SAP, HubSpot, Dynamics, Salesforce, etc. Most, not all have taken an inward-looking view of the qualification gates. And this is where it has gone wrong. In today’s complex world, which over the last 10 months has become even more complex(!!!), sales professionals need to spend much more time understanding the buying journey, not the sales journey. As the various research companies have suggested there are multiple buyers in any buying decision, each pursuing their own journey, at their own pace and very likely to be at different points of the journey at any one time. That’s why for me it’s imperative we take the time to understand the buying journey and focus our attention on it.
And a final thought – If you agree with me that understanding the buying journey is critical to success, then let’s make sure it is reflected in your CRM system. It really doesn’t matter which version you use, be it simple or complex. Stop being focused on some internal facing qualification process and be outward looking. Build your CRM with the buying journey front and centre and you’ll transform its perception from admin chore to value adding sales tool.
Stay safe and well
About Chris Smith – Chris has considerable experience of leading complex projects involving multiple stakeholders and third parties across public and commercial sectors. He is passionate about sales and business development and has the good fortune to have worked for, and with many of, the world’s leading technology companies. Chris has over 30 years of experience of wining and delivering innovative technology solutions into a variety of different industry sectors, ranging from £100k to £20m+.
At JA Consulting we help businesses and individuals take the theory of selling and put it into practice. We’re here to help you learn how to spot and grow business opportunities, how to develop strong and transferable selling skills and how to generate robust account management.
If you have any questions, our team can assist you as usual via phone or email.
Look out for more hints and tips coming soon.