How to Refine Your Sales Process
SuperOffice defines a sales process as: “a set of repeatable steps that a salesperson takes to take a prospective buyer from the early stage of awareness to a closed sale.”
In our blog, What a Sales Process is & How to Create One in Your Insurance Agency, we took that definition further to define a sales process as: “the steps you take or the “map” you follow for the journey to adding a new client.”
Today, we’re going to discuss another term, sales methodology, and how it fits with the sales process, how it differs, and how you can (and should!) use both to build your health and life insurance agency's sales team.
Sales Process vs. Sales Methodology
As we said, a sales process is the steps you follow to go from Point A to Point B. In terms of life and health insurance agencies, it could be taking someone from a lead (Point A) to a client (Point B). It includes an entire process with detailed and documented steps of what comes next, what’s happened previously, and so on.
HubSpot defines sales methodology as: “the framework for how your sales process is to be carried out and how it will help your business grow.”
To help you better understand this, check out the diagram HubSpot created:
The main difference is this: the sales process is your map, the sales methodology is the why.
You should build out your methodology first to determine your approach. Then, insert the steps that make sense for that approach.
Without a methodology, your team will just sell to sell. Each agent will approach it differently; each conversation will have a different ring. Without a methodology, you cannot expect or maintain a consistent experience because each agent will go about it in their own unique way.
This is harmful because the experience your client has with you from day one is everything. Your brand, who your audience sees you as, is built around the experience your clients have. As Marty Neumeier says: “Your brand isn't what you say it is. It's what they say it is.”
Working without a sales methodology might be possible, yes, but it won’t be as powerful. Why go halfway into it when you could go the whole nine yards and create consistency throughout your sales team?
The first step? Determine and define your sales methodology.
Types of Sales Methodology
HubSpot shares the top 5 types of sales methodologies teams can choose from as the foundation of their sales process approach.
Challenger Sales Methodology.
“The Challenger Sales method is an approach to sales that says the seller, or Challenger, must teach the prospect.” The main points of the Challenger Methodology are to inform, educate, tailor, and challenge. You work with prospects who may not understand fully who you are or what you provide, and you work with those that may come in with preconceived notions for you to challenge.
This methodology “requires reps to focus solely on the customer's pain points instead of the products or services they're selling.” Sales agents focus on the lead or customer’s pain points and how they could be relieved by said products. Instead of product-first, it is solution-first.
Sandler Sales Methodology.
“The Sandler Sales methodology says the buyer and seller are equally invested in the sales process.” Agents work to quickly overcome the buyer's objections and preconceptions to save time and push the sale further along.
“Consultative selling places emphasis on the salesperson becoming a trusted advisor to the customer, gaining authority and trust over time.” This methodology focuses on building the relationship between the agent and the lead/customer. It will likely be a longer process than the Sandler Sales Methodology, but it takes the customer’s needs into full consideration to build and align the experience for a successful partnership.
“The inbound sales approach is characterized by attracting buyers with tailored and relevant content rather than advertising irrelevant messages and hoping they'll buy.” Create sales and marketing content to engage with your audience to create initial interest and intrigue them to learn more and potentially buy. Then, create content for the next steps so your content can escort them throughout the journey from interested to invested.
When it comes to your sales methodology, there is no right or wrong answer. What works for your health and life insurance agency may or may not work for another agency. Choose the style that works for you. It may be one of 5 above; it may be something different.
As long as it works for you and is successful, then that’s all that matters.
After you’ve determined your methodology, you can start to build your agency's sales process. Choose steps in your process that complement the methodology you chose and let your methodology help guide you along. Use our blog, What a Sales Process is & How to Create One in Your Insurance Agency to help you define and determine your health and life insurance agency's sales process steps.
If you’re working backward, then create a methodology based on the steps you’ve already determined. A shorter, less relationship-focused sales process would likely not lend itself well to the Consultative Methodology. Likewise, a longer, relationship-based process wouldn’t fit the Sandler Sales Methodology.
Look at your process, consider what works well and what doesn’t, and then build out your methodology. Let what you’re currently doing inform you of how you want to proceed in the future.
To learn more, check out these resources about building a successful sales team: