Sales consulting is a lot of things to different people. Sales consulting to consultants means an opportunity to work with clients and help them achieve their sales goals. For sales managers, consulting firms offer the chance to grow strategic skills that will contribute to success in other parts of their business. And for sales leaders, top sales consulting firms provide a valuable tool for building high-performing teams and ensuring the company meets its sales targets.
So then, what exactly is a sales consulting firm? It's difficult to define because there are so many types of sales consulting firms and services offered by these consulting firms: everything from sales process improvement to sales talent assessment. From running sales effectiveness workshops to fostering a customer-centric approach utilizing customer relationship management techniques. Even increasing market share via new business development through identifying, qualifying, and targeting sales prospects. Consulting firms can even train salespeople on how to use new technologies.
This is just a brief overview of the many different sales transformation services offered through the sales consulting industry. For sales teams at all levels — from entry-level sales staff up to senior executives — there are several benefits and actionable insights that can be derived by working with top sales consulting firms.
But the primary benefit is having an experienced sales consultant who can leapfrog the years it would normally take you to develop the sales strategy, sales process, and sales transformation in-house.
At a minimum, sales consulting firms (or a sales consultant) should be able to lead you through the following exercises to create revenue growth:
Exercise 1: Determine Your Sales Types
A company will experience many types of sales, including new sales, expansion sales, retention/renewal sales, and account management. Top sales consulting firms and sales consulting services will help you determine how to maximize sellers and sales performance for each of your highest priority customer segments:
New Business Sales / New Logo Sales
It may be called by many names, but the process of securing revenue growth is the lifeblood of any software business. Without new customers, sales performance and profitability are nearly impossible for most businesses.
Once you've acquired a customer the selling doesn't stop. It is easier to sell an existing customer more products or services than it is to sell new customers.
Retention / Renewal Sales
It's important for companies not only to retain existing customers but also attract repeat business from them too. When you have a loyal customer base your software company can experience significant growth in sales and profitability.
Account Management / Client Sales
You may think that the process of selling to your current customers is a simple one, but in many cases, this couldn't be further from the truth. This type of sales requires careful planning and execution for success. Consulting firms can help you develop a best-in-class account management sales process to ensure customers stick with your software and grow the relationship even further.
Exercise 2: Figure Out Your Sales Channels
A company has many different sales channels to go to market with, but they can be broken into two broad categories: direct sales and indirect sales. Sales consultants, well versed in the consulting industry, should be able to guide your sales organization on which strategy to choose:
A direct sales strategy is when all sales talent are employees of the software company. The company handles all inbound and outbound activities using your marketing strategies and sales process.
An indirect sales strategy is where most sales talent are third-party agents or contractors who work on a commission basis from their own offices and within their own sales organization. They sell your products using their own marketing strategies and sales process.
Exercise 3: Select a Sales Methodology
Sales consulting services experts should be well versed in all the leading sales methodologies in the market today. Selecting the right framework will help emphasize your value propositions, and put your entire organization in the right mindset to improve sales performance.
It is most common for a company to adopt a custom sales training approach, picking from the best of the sales training services in the market.
A few of the sales training methodologies include:
In consultative selling, clients will take a more active role in the sales process. The goal is to help customers find a solution that meets their needs rather than just simply selling them something.
Relationship selling is all about building long-term relationships with key stakeholders that will result in repeat business and referrals. The sales process is more focused on needs assessment rather than a simple product sale.
Social selling is all about using social media and other online tools to research a target market, identify the right people who need your services or products, build relationships with them.
With Solution Selling, you will work closely with your customer by understanding what they are trying to accomplish and helping them identify when, where, why and how they should purchase software or other solutions.
Strategic Account Selling
In strategic account selling, a company determines the set of accounts that are most critical to their business, and then adopts a different approach for working with these accounts. It's all about creating customized sales plans for each key account that will increase the value of the relationship.
Value selling is all about helping customers identify how much value they will receive from the software company. The sales process prioritizes customer needs and matches them with business outcomes to find a solution that provides maximum ROI for both parties.
The Challenger Sale
Rather than being a generic sales enablement solution, The Challenger Sale is about changing how your sales team challenges and engages with prospects. It’s a mindset shift in how you approach selling, where you enable sales skills to teach, tailor, and take control of the entire process.
Miller Heiman Group Sales Process
The Miller Heiman Group Sales Process is an approach that focuses on customer relationship management. It's all about building long-term relationships through trust, integrity, and respect for your customers.
Sandler Sales Methodology
The Sandler Sales method is a consultative sales process that focuses on the needs of customers. It's all about asking questions, uncovering their problems and pain points, then creating solutions for them.
SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-payoff. This is a tactical sales approach that uses four questions to work through the sale with your customers:
Situation — What's going on?
Problem — Why should this concern you?
Implications — So what does this mean? Are there any other problems?
Need-Payoff — What's in it for you and your organization if we solve this problem right now?
The TAS methodology is an approach used to increase the success rate of customer acquisition. The goal of using the Sales Training Approach is to identify, qualify and set up qualified appointments with buyers or decision-makers.
Exercise 4: Implement a Business Development Approach
In an ideal situation, to maximize marketing spend, business development is handled as a partnership between product, marketing, sales teams, and a tight alignment with executive leadership.
However, there are elements that sales consulting services can guide you on:
Sales Prospecting and Cold Calling
You need to determine very early the standards of sales performance as it relates to prospecting for sales leads. You should engage in regular sales training to help sales reps generate and qualify their own sales leads.
Lead Qualification Criteria
To do that, your sales organization must know what a qualified lead looks like. Sales operations professionals — and sales consulting services — have come up with some insights and industry-standard qualification practices:
BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing)
To be considered a qualified lead under the BANT business model, a prospect must possess the budget, authority, need, and timing to purchase the product.
CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization)
CHAMP is a modified version of BANT and focuses on challenges faced by the prospect, their authority to buy your product, their budget, and how much they prioritize the need.
MEDDIC (Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion)
MEDDIC is a well-known sales qualification method used by marketing and sales teams to qualify leads. It incorporates the economic buyer, their decision criteria, processes for making decisions, how they are currently dealing with pain points or issues that your product can solve, as well as who the champion of this project would be.
TAR (Time Allowed, Budget, Authority)
The TAR business model is similar to BANT because it uses time allocated for buying decisions as a qualifying factor. However, the budgetary restriction also comes into play with this approach. Additionally all three elements - budget authority and need - must be present for a lead to be qualified.
Opportunity Management Processes
Having a defined process here will help your sales team manage their pipeline effectively. You can also determine how many opportunities must be open for a representative to realistically hit their quota.
Exercise 5: Create and Map Out Your Sales Process
To predictably speed up your sales transformation, the sales consulting services you engage should be able to provide guidance on how your sales organization should operate.
Specifically, top sales consulting firms should provide guidance around:
Your pricing strategy must support the company's objectives, while also being competitive in the market. It should be jointly developed by the product, marketing, and sales organizations.
Sales Performance Strategies
Your sales organization should be held accountable for executing the day-to-day tactical selling activities. But just because sales services happen daily doesn't mean that sales services are not strategic and should be planned.
Having a defined process here will help your sales team manage their pipeline effectively. You can also determine how many opportunities must be generated for targeted quota attainment at the end of each month, quarter, or year period. These are all things that your sales consulting firms should be able to map out with you during an engagement.
Sales Compensation and Incentive Plans
Top sales consulting firms with help ensure your sales compensation and incentive plans align with your company’s objectives. They should also incentivize reps to generate new opportunities, as well as close deals.
Exercise 6: Select Your Technology Stack
With a modern sales stack, your reps will have the tools they need to perform at their best. Your company's choice in technology can be a major factor affecting the performance of individual members on the team as well as overall organizational effectiveness.
To make an informed decision about what is right for your business and how it should integrate with existing technologies, the following are some questions you should ask your professional services firm:
Is this software capable of managing my existing pipeline, as well as allowing me to continue building out new opportunities? If not, can I connect it with other solutions that will help manage my pipelines better? What type of reporting does it have available for my pipeline?
What types of forecasting options are available to me, and does this software tie into the rest of my technology stack seamlessly? What type of reporting capabilities are there for forecasts? Can I set up automated alerts when a forecast threshold is met or exceeded?
Is this software capable of managing both sales pipelines and account management activities? What type of reporting capabilities are there for account management?
Sales Performance Measurement
Are the key performance indicators (KPIs) baked into this software customizable enough to be relevant within my organization's context, and tied directly back to our company objectives?
If you need to increase your sales team's capabilities quickly, then an outside consultant may be the right solution. A professional can provide deep expertise that will help expedite your company’s development of marketing or sales skills faster than if they were developed internally. Let us know how we can get started!