Are your sellers using a sales methodology to guide them, step-by-step, in their daily prospecting and closing sales activities? Most sales training companies and sales teams subscribe to a sales method but generally, it covers from “hello to close”. That’s the phase from the moment you say hello, begin building rapport and trust, all the way to learning how to effectively negotiate a contract and close.
However, most sales methodologies and most sales teams do not subscribe to a sales method that covers prospecting.
As a sales leader, you must have a playbook and a sales methodology that every rep on your team can follow during the “pre-hello” to hello phase, also known as the prospecting phase. The result will be more prospects entering your sales pipeline combined with more sales deals closing.
What is a Sales Methodology?
While the sales plan includes various stages and activities with defined outcomes, an outbound sales methodology generally focuses on a particular part of the sales cycle. Most, however, do not cover the prospecting phase. In other words, how to get more hellos or create more sales conversations. That is why we created THE sales methodology that will explode your team’s sales pipeline if followed each time your sellers try to create engagement with their buyers.
There are many popular sales methodologies out there, focusing on different stages of the sales process. These include:
- Inbound sales methodology
- The Challenger Sale
- Sandler Sales Methodology
- SPIN Selling
- Solution Selling
- Miller Heiman’s Conceptual Selling
- Miller Heiman’s Strategic Selling
- Miller Heiman’s LAMP (Large Account Management Practices)
- Consultative Selling
- SNAP Selling
- Customer Centric Selling
- Agile Sales Methodology
- Strategic Selling
- GAP Selling
- NEAT Selling
As you can see, there is no shortage of sales methodologies out there. Still, you have to find one that works for your organization’s needs, industry, and product or service, and that matches your buyer ‘s journey and sales funnel. While I have personally not gone through each one of them, few of them provide a structure for sales outreach or prospecting.
If a sales rep is having a hard time connecting with prospects or you are not hitting your sales goals, that’s probably a good indicator that it’s time to focus on leveraging a new sales methodology to drive more sales conversations or sales meetings.
What Sales Methodology is Best?
How do you choose from all the different sales methodologies available? Think about the current weaknesses in your selling process and choose a methodology that will make a positive impact on your sales organization.
In October 2021, with 1,295 professional B2B sellers from around the world, Vengreso performed a research and it showed 69% of sellers reported prospecting to be the hardest part of the sales cycle.
That is why at Vengreso we have developed a simple, but powerful, 3-step formula called The PVC Sales Methodology, which focuses squarely on prospecting, or as we like to say, from the “pre-hello” to the “hello.”
PVC stands for:
In fact, all of our training programs are focused on helping sellers find, engage, and connect with prospects, so they can create more sales conversations. Ultimately helping sellers convert more online discussions to offline conversations.
Keep in mind that what you’ll learn in this article will work no matter what product or service you’re selling. Whether it’s SAAS, a tangible product, or something else you’re selling – the PVC methodology is backed by the best market research out there.
By the way, in 2021, Vengreso was presented with a Gold Stevie® Award in the Award for Innovation in Sales for the PVC Sales Methodology.#SalesLeaders check out @GoVengreso's simple, but powerful, 3-step formula! The PVC #Sales Methodology will make everyone on your team a rockstar prospector and quota crusher. 🏆 Click To Tweet
Before Implementing the PVC Method
Leveraging the PVC Methodology requires a few mindset shifts. Doing so will make everyone on your team a rockstar prospector and salesperson.
Before we dive into the details of The PVC Sales Methodology, there are a few other things we need to cover to set the stage for your success.
1. Don’t be pushy
A novice sales rep usually makes the mistake of coming on too strong with their prospects, and they don’t even realize it.
But no one likes unprepared, pushy, and overly eager salespeople.
Teach sellers to treat a sales engagement (especially online) like they would any other type of in-person interaction, whether it’s at a conference, a local business meeting, or a cocktail party.
If a sales person is at an event, he wouldn’t just waltz right up to someone, tell them how awesome they are, and then ask if they are free to meet for 30 minutes within the next week. They need to get to know their buyer… and take it slow in building rapport and a relationship.
A sales representative first needs to become interested, before he can become interesting. It’s that simple!
2. Fine Tune Your Message
If you want your sales team to create engagement with your buyers, you must get super-clear on who you help and how you help.
Unless your reps clearly communicate the business problem that your company solves, they will never be able to build value.
Once you take the time to get that clarity for your team, it’s a beautiful thing. Now your sellers can begin to empathize with their buyers and put themselves in their shoes. This will make any of their approaches 100% more effective.
It will also help them stop wasting time, reaching out to people who don’t have a business problem that matches what your company can solve for them. Instead, they can focus on those buyers who truly have a problem right now that they can help them solve.
Once you nail down your value proposition, you can move into implementing The PVC Sales Methodology. But, you must be clear on your value proposition, especially before you approach enterprise sales prospects who will have even less time and patience to be sold.
How to Implement the PVC Sales Methodology
Some sales methodologies are hard to remember and follow because the training takes 3-months to learn and that much time or longer to change actual selling behavior. But we like to keep it simple, so your team will learn how to approach the sales engagement process well in less than 15 minutes. And while we absolutely go into depth in both of our sales training courses, with this blog your sellers can learn the method and start implementing it now.
Vengreso PVC Sales Methodology only has three steps.
PVC is an acronym that stands for:
P – Personalization
V – Value
C – Call-to-Action
Watch the video below taken directly from one of our live customer training programs to our selling community for an in-depth explanation of each of the three steps.
It ought to be totally obvious that before you plan any approach to a potential customer, you need to personalize it – the P in PVC.
Personalization goes way beyond just addressing people by their first name.
We’re constantly amazed at how lazy sellers avoid doing even moderate research to find a real human connection before reaching out to someone. We’ve seen this far too many times when someone is reaching out through a connection request on LinkedIn, a cold prospecting email, an InMail, a text, or a video they are sharing.#SalesLeaders learn here how to personalize your sales methodology with your #prospects from the very effective @GoVengreso's PVC method 🔥 Click To Tweet
There are two main ways your sellers can use a personalized approach with any of their prospects.
Personalized Approach No. 1: To the Individual
This could be the hardest approach, but often it’s not when you take a little time to focus on the individual. A lot also depends on how much someone or their company shares online. And how motivated your sellers are to dig in.
In this approach, your team must take the time to research the prospect, and look for interesting and relevant connection points they can use when reaching out. We call it finding the big fish on the wall.
They can look for:
- Mutual connections on LinkedIn
- Shared experiences they may have with the person. For instance, they went to the same school, support the same non-profit, or belong to the same professional organization
- Important recent “trigger” events that impacted them, including key company hires, mergers and acquisitions, trade shows and conferences attended, related industry news, etc.
- Recent items they shared socially that sellers can react to, such as third-party news, blog posts, awards or certifications they earned, or press that mentioned them by name or their company
- Insights that you may glean from using an artificial intelligence tool, like Crystal Knows which provides a glimpse into the best ways to write or speak to the buyer, based on their personality
- Company events. This may include mergers, new hires, regulatory changes, key movements in revenue, new rounds of funding, advances in technology, etc.
The point is to find something highly personal that the individual will instantly relate to.
An Example of Personalization
Sometimes you don’t even need to look online. The personal information may present itself in a conversation.
Recently, I was speaking with a prospect who admitted early in the call that he wasn’t quite ready to talk about what we had to offer. However, as we chatted, he mentioned that his daughter had recently given birth to a child, making him a grandfather.
While everyone was thrilled, his daughter and son-in-law were exhausted and at their wits’ end. As most new parents can relate to, they were neglecting each other in the harried chaos of trying to care for their newborn.
That night, I asked my wife if she knew of any articles or books that had helped her through when we were new parents (and wanted to strangle each other). Sure enough, she came up with a list of resources.
About a week after our meeting, I prepared a message for the prospect. I said, “Hey, I was just thinking about you. I told my wife about what your daughter and son-in-law are going through and asked her what had helped her in this particular scenario. I thought this might help your daughter and son-in-law.” Then, I shared links to the books on Amazon that my wife had recommended.
Do you know what happened? He got back to me less than 24 hours later and was beyond appreciative – and he asked to schedule a meeting three months out!
This positive result happened because I took the time to hyper-personalize, listen to him, and speak to something affecting him or specifically his family in a very personal way… And in this case, it had nothing to do with me trying to sell him something!
Personalized Approach No. 2: To The Buyer Persona
But what can you do about buyers who are elusive online?
We’ve all been there… trying to connect with individuals, such as high-level executives, who may share little or no personal details online.
When this happens, sellers should consider personalization, specific to their buyer persona.
With this approach, your sellers need to look for ways to speak to recognizable challenges that are similar to the customers they serve. In other words, what are the common business challenges that your product or service helps solve? Once sellers understand that information, they can then personalize their message to address those business problems.#Sellers should consider a personalized approach to their buyer persona. Learn how to with the @GoVengreso's PVC method and kill it with your #Sales #Strategy ⚡ Click To Tweet
For example, at Vengreso we sell to the following Buyer Personas:
- Sales Leaders
- Marketing Leaders
- Sales Enablement Leaders
- Individuals Responsible for Growing Revenue (e.g. Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, etc.)
- Individual Sales Professionals
When our sales team cannot find any information to personalize to the buyer, we will narrow down our message at the base minimum to the buyer persona. For instance, we might start a message (social or email) this way:
“Hi PROSPECTFIRSTNAME! The majority of Sales leaders we speak to have 2 common problems they are trying to solve:
1. How to help their team create more sales conversations with more qualified buyers AND
By starting an email this way, we are speaking to the problem that we solve, and we are hoping that they have this problem. Similarly, while ending an email, users might want to connect with you on social media channels. So, make sure you add an interactive email signature including links to your social profile.
Here is the beginning of the script, non-customized to Vengreso, for you to use:
Hi PROSPECTFIRSTNAME! The majority of INSERT YOUR BUYER’S FUNCTION (i.e. Sales) leaders we speak to have X common problems they are trying to solve:
1. INSERT PROBLEM 1
Other examples of information relevant to your Buyer’s Persona include:
- Specific news that impacts their company or industry
- Company milestones (anniversaries, expansions, annual planning and budgeting timeframes, etc.)
- News about their competitors
No doubt, you’ve heard this, hundreds of times: “Bring value, bring value, bring value!”
It sounds like such a cliché, right?
We get it. Value has definitely become a little overused.
What many sellers misunderstand is that giving value is really about addressing and alleviating one thing: pain. When you do this part right, especially at this stage of the sales cycle, then you can enter what I call “value selling”.
If someone comes to your website and fills out a contact form or gives you another signal that they have a problem that your product or service resolves, that’s awesome!
But we all know that is happening less and less. Buyers hold their cards close to the vest and do research on their own before they even reach out to sellers. And in some cases, they may not even be aware of the pain they are facing. This translates to an opportunity for alert and patient sellers.
Often, when salespeople are trying to connect with prospects who are either unaware of an issue they can help them with – or they are not giving any indication of considering the sales person in the first place, sales reps have to bring value to the table early and often!
The good news is that once your sellers offer credible value and solutions to address those specific problems of their ideal buyer persona, the prospects are going to listen.
How To Deliver Value
In our sales training course LinkedIn Sales Mastery, we teach sellers how and when to use content to address their buyers’ specific pains.
In order to provide the most value, sellers must understand their buyer persona. Then they can align their content to the specific pains their company can solve for them. Hopefully, the marketing team has done this: providing categorized content, based upon the buyer purchasing phase and the individual PAIN(S). But if not, well your sellers better get to know your company’s blog, YouTube channel, and/or resources (guides, webinars, and/or ebooks). They can then leverage those assets to create buyer engagement.#Sellers 👉🏽 learn how to provide the most value, understanding your buyer persona to align your company's content to the specific pains you can solve for them with @GoVengreo's sales methodology. Click To Tweet
In sales prospecting every salesperson has to bring value to build value – there are no shortcuts. When you can master the art of value selling, then you aren’t really doing any of the heavy lifting. At that point, your prospect sees what you offer and knows that it can provide value to help them overcome their pain point – so they will actively ask to move the conversation along, as opposed to you having to force a sale.
Continuing with the script discussed in the Personalized Approach No. 2 – To Their Buyer Persona , a cold outreach email or InMail might look something like this.
The majority of INSERT YOUR BUYER’S FUNCTION (i.e. Sales) leaders we speak to have X common problems they are trying to solve:
1. INSERT PROBLEM 1
Attached are two items that have helped your peers address these problems.
The first is a BLOG article that answers the question: INSERT QUESTION
The second is a X-minute VIDEO/WEBINAR, which addresses INSERT BUSINESS BUYER’S CHALLENGE.
With that template, sellers can show buyers that they understand their pain points, they have the resources to help, and even have content that directly addresses their needs!
What Good Content Looks Like
Content can take many forms. Your sales team has to think of – and use – a multi-content engagement approach.
That means the content they choose to share with a prospect could be a video, a webinar, a whitepaper, an e-book, a blog article, a speech, a third-party journal, an online course, or something else.
Each piece of content must reinforce your value proposition. Your team needs to know and speak directly to the buyers’ business pain/need and the KPI’s they may not be achieving. This is how you increase your sales effectiveness by showcasing how you can help your prospect.
Below you will find an infographic which highlights what format content for sales may come in:
Another word of caution: Content for content’s sake is meaningless! However, content that adds value – and helps buyers understand how you can help solve their specific problem(s) – is the content they will read, watch, or listen to!
Often we are asked by sales leaders what is not considered “content for sales”? Ask no further, we’ve come up with this infographic which showcases what is NOT considered content for sales.
As salespeople, we are trained (and often measured) on booking appointments. We get it!
But here’s where most ineffective sellers go wrong: they think the first call-to-action on a cold-outreach has to be asking for a 15-, 30- or 60-minute call or meeting with the prospect.
Do you like getting pitched like that? I don’t! No wonder most of those “Hey, I think you should drop what you’re doing and meet with me” approaches – before any real value or reason has been established – usually fail.#SalesLeaders 👉🏽 remember to include powerful CTAs in your #Strategy to generate more sales conversations. Learn great tips and tricks from @GoVengreso's PVC method. Click To Tweet
Note: Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to suggest a call or meeting early on. This is where you’ll want to spend some time analyzing who you are reaching out to. Through being intentional and practicing target account selling, then you can do your due diligence and get to know who you’re contacting, so you can tailor your outreach accordingly.
When might be a good occasion to suggest a meeting on the first outreach?
Here are four possible scenarios:
- The prospect asked for it (submitted a lead form on your website)
- The prospect connected with your seller on LinkedIn
- The seller met the prospect at a live event
- The seller has been referred by someone else to your seller
Otherwise, early CTAs that are more suitable include:
- Directing the buyer to a helpful resource (e.g., downloadable ebook or video)
- Soliciting their opinion by asking simple questions they can respond to
- Inviting to an event (webinar or live event)
- Ask a question to validate their business pain(s)
How to Use Low-Risk CTAs
We were talking to a company about the possibility of doing LinkedIn profile makeovers for their entire team of 100 salespeople. Speaking to the buyer’s persona (in this case the company’s CMO), we explained that in order for their people to be found on LinkedIn and provide the right type of sales messaging, their buyers should understand who they are, how they help, and what business problem they solve. This is essential, at this part of the sales stage, especially when sellers engage through social media platforms. The CMO flat out told us, “Thanks, but we don’t have a problem. It’s not really a priority for us.”
Our response was to ask for his opinion. You see, during our research prior to the meeting, we found that one of their sales reps had a skull and crossbones displayed in the banner at the top of their LinkedIn profile!
So our first question was, “Is this what you want representing your company’s brand?“.
By the way, the rep had been there for two years.
We also pointed out the LinkedIn profile of another rep who had been with their company for over a year. This person still had their previous job at Google – and position providing search engine optimization – under most recent experience. He was not working at Google, nor was he selling SEO tech.
We asked, “Isn’t this rep selling a different technology? Or is your rep selling search engine optimization?”
Based on these two observations alone, we said, “We understand you said you don’t have a problem. But we did notice these two challenges.”
After doing a little more digging, we pulled the profiles of their last 25 hires. We noticed that at least 80% of them had no messaging whatsoever related to the company’s ideal customer profile (ICP).
Finally, we asked the CMO, “Do you believe what LinkedIn stated in 2018 is true? That 62% of buyers look at a salesperson’s LinkedIn profile before they engage with them? What is it saying about your company or your seller’s brand when your buyer sees irrelevant services, old companies, or a skull and crossbones?”
The CMO agreed that they had a problem that we could solve. Until then, he had not realized the significance of all these factors that were negatively impacting their sales potential on LinkedIn. It took us probing and asking simple questions ( one type of CTA ) to acknowledge a problem that we could solve. That’s what led to us making the sale.
Once again: you have to be patient and keep digging until you hit the core pain your products or services address. Patience is key in the buying process. Rush it too much and you will turn off the prospect from listening. Go too slow and you could lose the urgency for them to buy. As we’ve discussed, many times, you have to help them see the problem, and assess if they believe that pain is big enough to warrant your solution.
How to Use the PVC Sales Methodology
Typically, we recommend using a 2-message method, when implementing the PVC Sales Methodology vs. the 1-message method.
This 2-message method applies to reaching out to a cold-prospect. Of course, any leader who knows me knows that I would always encourage your reps to leverage the sales referral first to get into someone’s office. In fact, here is a great resource that will teach your reps how to ask for sales referrals.
The Two-Message Method
Step One. This involves connecting to the individual or their buyer persona and providing value – but not instantly asking for a meeting. This is an important step of the sales strategy. With truly “cold” connections, this option is preferred before going for the “ask”. But, at this sales stage, you can find more subtle ways to ask by leveraging a simpler CTA as mentioned above.
In step one, the main focus is to bring the “P” for Personalize and the “V” for Value with a light CTA (using one that solicits their opinions, confirmation of the problem, etc.)
Step Two. This comes two to five days later. It’s after the seller has had a chance to ” warm-up ” the connection with a personalized, value-based message in a casual, non-threatening, and not an annoying way. In this message, they will still bring the “P” for Personalization and repeat the “V” for Value, but now they go for the CTA, which asks for the meeting.
To use the 2-step process with The PVC Sales Methodology for cold sales outreach, sellers will need to develop a cadence that looks possibly like this:
- Day 1 – Send an email/InMail, use the 2-step process and leverage the “P” and the “V” from PVC with a light CTA
- Day 2 – Look at the buyer’s LinkedIn profile
- Day 3 – Follow the buyer on LinkedIn
- Day 4 – Engage with the buyer’s social posts
- Day 5 – Send an email/InMail, but this time bring the PVC all in one message with the CTA being a meeting request
- Day 6 – Send a LinkedIn Connection Request
- Day 7 – Send a personalized sales video message
- Day 8 – Pick up the phone and call the buyer
The One-Message Method
Some of our students like to use the 1-step approach with the PVC Sales Methodology. That is, they want to personalize, give value, and use a CTA which asks for the meeting all in the initial message.
Is this wrong? No. We have many successful reps who are leveraging the 1-step method with the PVC Sales Methodology AND are scheduling meetings.
To do this most successfully, it does require the seller to ” warm-up ” the buyer. We suggest if they are going to use the 1-step message that they implement the following steps prior to sending the email, which asks for a meeting. The sales manager can teach sellers to follow this sales cadence:
- Day 1 – Look at the buyer’s LinkedIn profile
- Day 2 – Follow the buyer on LinkedIn
- Day 3 – Engage with the buyer’s social posts
- Day 4 – Send an email/InMail, use the 1-step process and leverage the PVC Sales Method
- Day 5 – Send a LinkedIn Connection Request
- Day 6 – Send a personalized sales video message
- Day 7 – Pick up the phone and call the buyer
To put this all together, on the next page we provided a couple of the call-to-action (asking for a meeting) templates we use at Vengreso. The first one shows you how to message a buyer hyper-personalized to them and the second is personalized to the bare minimum of the buyer persona only.
A word of caution: The “1-message” and “2-message” methods are advanced digital-selling skills and can backfire if you don’t get it right! To master this sales technique, I suggest you enroll your team in our LinkedIn Sales Mastery Program course where they’ll learn these techniques and more. They will also be able to mingle with our coaches and peers inside the forum and can ask any question (questions always get answered). Sales training is vital for even your highest performing sales professional because it gives them the opportunity to refresh their knowledge so they can master any selling methodology.
Sample Email or InMail Template
Below are two templates of the one-message method that we use at Vengreso.
Personalized to Your Specific Buyer
|Hey PROSPECT’S FIRSTNAME!
I recently saw your LinkedIn post where your company and your CTO were acknowledged for fostering a culture of innovation! It must feel great to be part of the team that has received such recognition (REPLACE WITH CUSTOMIZED RESEARCH OF YOUR SPECIFIC BUYER).
I’m reaching out because as a INSERT TITLE OF BUYER, I know you are trying to generate more leads, improve the quality of those leads, and decrease the time it takes to create MQL’s (REPLACE BUSINESS PAIN/GOAL OF YOUR BUYER PERSONA). That’s exactly how we helped Mastercard (REPLACE CLIENT NAME). In fact, they were able to increase MQL’s by over 300% and create a 200% increase in sales appointments within a 6-month period (REPLACE ACHIEVEMENT). In this video, INSERT NAME AND TITLE OF BUYER tells you how they did it – INSERT HYPERLINK.
I’d like to help you solve a similar set of problems. I am available to host a 30-minute discussion on:
Two Weeks Out @ 9 am or
Which date and time work best for you? I look forward to chatting.
Notice how we don’t say, “Are you free to (grab coffee/meet/jump on a call) tomorrow or later this week?”
Tell your reps to stop doing that! Of course, the busy executive is not available. Their schedules are generally booked up two weeks in advance. If they do it, they’re just asking to get deleted and ignored!
Personalized to the Buyer Persona
The majority of INSERT YOUR BUYER’S FUNCTION (i.e. Sales) leaders we speak to have X common problems they are trying to solve:
1. INSERT PROBLEM 1
Attached are two items that have helped other INSERT YOUR BUYER’S FUNCTION (i.e. Sales) leaders address these problems.
The first is a BLOG article that answers the question: INSERT QUESTION
May I suggest a 30-minute meeting, where I can share additional insights on how we’re helping other companies solve these problems?
I am available on:
. List a Date Two Weeks Out @ 9 am or
Alternatively, if none of those dates work and to avoid email scheduling volleyball, just click here (INSERT LINK) and feel free to find a time that matches your calendar.
Does that work for you? I look forward to speaking with you.
Again, the seller is asking the executive to choose a time over the next few weeks that work best for him or her. They’re not asking if they’re free tomorrow for a cup of coffee.
If you’d like to see this in action via one of our live training sessions well then you’re in luck! I’ve attached the video The Anatomy of the Perfect Sales Prospecting Message here. Take a look:
Why the PVC Sales Methodology Works
By now, you can see why we think the PVC Methodology works when it comes to making the best connections that ultimately lead to more conversations.
So what are you waiting for? Train your team to leverage the right sales model or sales methodology to engage today’s digitally connected, socially engaged, mobile attached, and video hungry buyer. Check out our Modern Sales Mastery training program!