Over the last few years, I’ve been taking note of all the global sales methodologies in the world, whether value-driven, customer-centric driven, or challenge-driven, and we’ve integrated them all inside our Social Selling Mastery program.

However, in my observations, I noticed an alarming—but also incredible—opportunity. Virtually all major sales methodologies created since the 1960s have started their process with a few flawed assumptions.

Assumption #1: The methodology assumes that you have already selected an account, already know the contact info, and you have made contact.

Assumption #2: The methodology assumes that you already have had engagement, and have in fact had meetings.

In a nutshell, the purpose of all these sales methodologies has been to help people move a lead into closing and winning. They focus on strategies such as account planning, value positioning, and negotiation tactics. But here’s the glaring problem – that’s not how prospecting works.

Whether it’s a named account, an existing account, or net new account – the reality is prospecting typically starts long before that.

Find your TAM
It starts at identifying your Total Addressable Market (TAM) – whether a geographic, vertical, or industry focus. This involves answering several questions:

• How many accounts do you have in a particular target market?
• How many accounts have been engaged?
• Which accounts do you have mapped in your CRM which you don’t even know exist?

A new way of thinking about prospecting
Next, you need to start thinking differently about prospecting. The biggest challenge with most customers’ self-developed prospecting methodologies is they’re completely linear in focus – which means you’re going to linearly drive a customer from account identification to contact engagement, to meeting booked. This is not reality!

The other problem with a linear focus is it also has sellers thinking in a linear prospecting cadence. They’re given the autonomy to select which accounts to target, and who to speak to next, based on very binary pieces of information such as calendar dates and number of touches.

That’s not dynamic to the customers. Customers leave digital breadcrumbs based on triggers, referrals, and competitive intelligence that send dynamic signals so you can see where you have an asymmetrical competitive advantage at a moment in time.

This means you need to shift your thinking away from this linear approach, and move to thinking of prospecting as relationship-based selling. Thinking of relationship-based selling is so much better than linear prospecting, yet none of these sales methodologies touch this.

Relationship-based selling allows you to start much earlier in the process – to not only map the TAM but use frameworks like the sphere of influence to reverse-engineer and use your relationship competitive advantage as cues to who you should talk to first, to identify which advocates in your existing customer base have now moved on to other companies, and which advocates are in your named accounts that could re-order the cadence at which you’re going to speak to key accounts. It also allows you to consider
which key accounts have compelling events that have happened in the last week or last 90 days, that dramatically affect your ability to activate that account. It’s a dynamic prospecting effort!

In summary, your existing sales methodology isn’t tackling these fundamentals. And this is why we are called in to help SDRs, BDRs, ISRs, ADs, CSMs, and channel partners.

Each of these sellers is responsible for closing the gap between leads and opportunities already in motion from marketing and channel partners, and the gap in what’s remaining in their sales quota. Our job is to give each of these sellers prospecting skills, so they can be autonomous in market and be self-generating prospectors.

Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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