Closing a sale doesn't happen by chance. Though it involves some dynamic thinking, a good salesperson isn't winging it. There's generally a blueprint in place for most successful sales efforts and a philosophical framework that serves as a reference point for how those steps should be carried out.
The combination of that roadmap and ideology is known as a sales motion. This article provides some perspective on what that term means, the components that comprise one, and what one could actually look like.
A sales motion is the combination of the actionable steps and general sales philosophy an organization employs to sell a product or service to prospects and customers. Sales motions often vary depending on the nature of the company enacting them and the buyer persona that business is trying to appeal to.
A sales motion is the body and soul of a business's sales efforts. It dictates the particular steps a company's salespeople should take, referred to as a sales process, and the general sales philosophy that should guide those steps, known as a sales methodology.
Those components are combined and supplemented by goals and expectations to give salespeople a more definitive picture of how they should be carrying out their sales efforts and whether they're doing them right as they go.
Here, I've outlined what those two components are, offered some examples of what they could look like, and given some context about how they can come together to make an effective sales motion.
The term "sales process" refers to a repeatable set of steps a sales team takes to move a prospect from an early-stage lead to a closed customer. It's a framework of concrete actions reps can follow to consistently close deals — a high-level map, charting how a salesperson can take a prospect from point A to point B in terms of their buyer's journey.
Sales processes typically contain six steps: prospecting, connecting and qualifying, researching, presenting, handling objections, and closing. Every sales process has its own version of how each step should be carried out. For the sake of example, let's put together a sales process for a company selling a B2B cloud computing solution.
As with any business's sales process, this company's would start with prospecting. In this particular case, let's assume that means directly interfacing with customers at conventions and industry-specific events. At a convention, one of our reps connects with a representative from a midsize eCommerce business, looking to improve its cloud computing infrastructure.
Our rep would then have to connect with the company to gather information and qualify whether the lead is worth pursuing. In this case, they reach out to the prospect they met at the convention over the phone and ask thoughtful questions to gauge what they want from a cloud computing solution. Let's say our rep comes to believe the lead is viable, and they progress to the research phase.
In this hypothetical sales process, research means reaching out to employees at the prospect's company across a variety of departments to gain a holistic view of the company's operations. After completing their due diligence, our rep schedules a presentation with decision-makers at the prospect's company.
In our example, the rep brings in engineers from their company to demonstrate how to use the product. The rep will have prepared for any possible objections to the product — based on their previous experience, general sales skills, and understanding of the product itself.
The presentation goes well, and the rep progresses to the final step: closing. In this case, that means achieving the buy-in of decision-makers at the company. They manage to seal the deal, and our hypothetical rep at our hypothetical business is hypothetically ecstatic.
That's an example of a sales process. This one went like this — prospecting at the convention, connecting and qualifying over the phone, researching the company by touching base with other departments, presenting the product with an engineer, adeptly handling objections, and closing by achieving buy-in with decision-makers.
Those steps were specific to our hypothetical company. Every company is going to have its own sales process that suits its particular needs, strengths, vulnerabilities, and product or service.
That's the first component of a sales motion.
The next component of a sales motion is a sales methodology.
A sales methodology is the philosophical framework that sets the foundation for how your sales process should be carried out. It's an understanding of how your reps are meant to approach sales on behalf of your company.
There are several different sales methodologies — each with its own unique emphasis on certain aspects of a buyer's experience. This includes methodologies that focus on a buyer's economic situation, bringing attention to the bigger picture, honing in on specific pain points, or any other context that might influence how a buyer makes decisions.
For reference, let's explore a popular methodology known as The Challenger Sales method. With Challenger Sales, salespeople are encouraged to follow a teach-tailor-take control process. First, they teach their prospects by offering valuable context about larger business problems, new ideas, and astute insights that extend beyond the product or service in question.
Next, they tailor their communications to suit their prospect. They ensure they're speaking to their buyer's specific needs and interests. Their ability to do so often rests upon comprehensive and detailed research on their prospect or prospect's company.
Finally, they take control of the sale. They're not afraid to push back on their customer — focusing more on making the sale than being liked. Ultimately, the methodology is about imparting wisdom, establishing authority through assertiveness and thought leadership, and ultimately selling on those bases.
That's the premise of a sales methodology. It dictates the general behavior, attitude, and logic behind your sales efforts.
To learn more about sales methodologies, check out this article.
A sales motion is essentially the combination of the two components discussed above with specific activities and goals assigned to each stage. Both aspects shape the content, purpose, and actions associated with a sales motion in their own way.
Let's take the two examples we've been working with — the B2B cloud computing company's sales process and The Challenger Sales methodology. The sales process we defined has a series of specific steps, but the motion of how those steps are carried out is dictated by the methodology applied to them.
The Challenger methodology follows a teach-tailor-take control pattern. In the rep's prospecting phase and initial phone calls with the buyer, the motion would lay out specific lines of questioning and ways to offer astute insights. These would be relevant to their prospect's pain points and shed light on the big picture behind the deal.
Let's assume our rep is still talking to the eCommerce prospect. Here, they would be expected to ask thoughtful, relevant, open-ended questions like, "How have your on-premise servers been limiting your online sales?" They would also offer meaningful insights beyond the product, like comments or bold ideas about the future of eCommerce.
Then, by this sales motion, the rep would conduct thorough and comprehensive research about the prospect's business. Challenger Sales, as a methodology, revolves around tailoring your messaging to a customer's specific interests, needs, and pain points. So, the rep would have to call several different departments at the prospect's company, getting a picture of the business that's both holistic and detailed.
Then, the rep would present the product. This presentation would revolve, above all else, around educating the prospects and establishing authority. It would extend beyond just demonstrating how to use the product — it would address how leveraging it could guide the company's future. They could bring in an engineer to demonstrate the product, but the focus would revolve around the bigger picture.
After the presentation, the rep would be encouraged to push back on the prospects when handling objections. They would be more interested in being practical and conveying the necessary information than trying to appeal to everyone in the room.
Finally, they would close, and the motion would end.
In many cases, a motion like that might be specific to a single buyer persona. A company could apply a different process or employ another methodology or both.
Oftentimes, a company's sales efforts can only be as effective as the motion that guides them. It's important to understand the components that comprise a functional motion to get a feel for how to construct yours. Bear in mind, this article is a high-level overview. Constructing your motion or motions will be a nuanced process that requires a lot of thought and trial and error.
Still, once you hone in on the best sales motion for your business, your sales efforts should be more efficient, easier to track, and better constructed overall.
Originally published Mar 4, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated June 15 2021