Research Paper: Why ‘Agile’ Salespeople Outperform Challengers

There’s an interesting trend afoot in today’s sales organizations. For the past several years, leaders of the sales function have been told that they must implement a standardized sales methodology to drive sales force effectiveness. Of course, standardized sales methodologies come with promises of increased revenues, faster customer-conversion rates, and better onboarding of salespeople. The potential benefits of a sales methodology are real, but sales leaders have learned to take dramatic performance improvement claims with a grain of salt. After all, a substantial amount of these claims come from the very companies that market off-the-shelf methodologies that are guaranteed to improve rep performance.

The reality of implementing standardized sales methodologies is that the devil is in the details. Results of a recent benchmarking study by the Florida State University Sales Institute show mixed results for standard sales methodologies. The survey asked over 800 sales leaders if they had implemented a standardized methodology in the last three years and if so, what was the outcome of the implementation relative to expectations. Over 50 percent of the respondents who had implemented a new sales methodology felt that the initiative had NOT delivered its expected results.

This is a major issue given the time and resources that are typically allocated to such a project. The costs of these initiatives can easily reach seven figures for large sales organizations. And these monetary expenditures don’t account for lost revenue due to disruptions in selling time as the methodology is rolled out to the field. Finally, what if the methodology doesn’t work? The potential losses can be devastating to a sales organization. With the risk involved with selecting a sales methodology, it’s no wonder that the question, “Which sales methodology is right for our company?” can cause major stress for senior sales leaders.

But what if that’s the wrong question for sales leaders to be asking? In the following sections of this paper, we highlight some research findings that show that this might just be the case.

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