Sales Culture vs. Sales Methodology

sales methodology

People often confuse the sales culture and the sales methodology used within a given culture.

Sales culture is a set of habits and behaviors of a sales team in a consistent way. That’s both internally and externally. Internally the culture is defined through the relationship among sales people, as well as those between sellers and their VPs. Externally the culture is defined through the relationship between sales people and the customers, sometimes through the way terms and conditions are applied in the field. Usually a company with a great sales culture is known as such in the industry, by the clients and by the competitors. That’s how the reputation of a company’s sales team is built. People are rarely indifferent to companies with strong cultures. Some are attracted by them and some disliked them. Examples of companies with strong sales cultures are IBM, Xerox, PTC, Oracle, and many others.

A sales methodology, on the other hand is about strategies, techniques and tactics used during a sales campaign. It’s a way of doing business. A sales methodology is neutral in regards with culture, it’s focus is on business.

It’s a bit like Religions & Diets. A sales methodology to a sales culture is a bit like a diet to a religion.

Eating fish once a week, which is a good diet, is called Friday Fast for Christians. Eating fish once a week, which is good for you, will not make you a Christian. Fasting for a month, with no food from sunrise to sunset, which is a good healthy diet, is the Ramadan for Muslims. Fasting will not make you a Muslim.

A good healthy diet is not just good for you, but it’s necessary for your health, just like a good sales methodology. It can be adapted inside a sales culture, usually together with a sales process, but it’s not mandatory. And the way a given methodology, such as MEDDIC is adapted to sales process A at company A with their culture A is not the same as it’s adapted in company B who has the culture B and has figured the winning sales process is B. The only common point is the discipline. The only habit common in all these sales cultures that you need for a good sales methodology is discipline. The same way you need a discipline for a diet to lead to a healthy life style, you need discipline in the execution of your winning sales methodology.

At PTC, where MEDDIC was invented, there was also a strong sales culture, but the way I teach MEDDIC, is not related to that culture. And I actually didn’t approve everything in the PTC culture. For instance I was the first manager to successfully promote a sales engineer to a sales rep. It was not in the culture of the company, I had to literally fight for it and do it, right after we signed a $8M contract with a customer and appoint the SE to account manager on the account he knew, so that the risk was zero. In another example, I hired the first female sales rep in Europe, while there were already about one hundred sales rep in Europe. 100 hundred male guys, no girl. But I absolutely loved the go getter culture. I immensely loved the culture of discipline, hard working, positive attitude, entrepreneurship, startup, stock options.

Sometimes during our MEDDIC workshops, I am asked: “How do you ask this?” “How exactly do you tell them this hard thing?”. I reply, this is how I ask it, but if based on your culture and your personality you feel more comfortable asking it in another way, then go for it. But you need to ask that question. That’s not negotiable. The sales culture has also a geographic dimension. We don’t build rapport with the clients, after hours, the same way in Asia, vs. Europe, vs. US. This comes from someone who has lived in Asia, in Europe and in the US. The fundamental reasons for decision makers are the same in different cultures, but the way you ask questions and present things are different. That’s why high end sales jobs are being compensated this well. That’s why with all the automation going on , sales jobs in high end , high value, competitive markets are the last to automate. You need the analytical and the rational mind to understand the client and the personal style and the right culture to ask questions and deliver the message.

If you are a sales leader I encourage you to keep your company’s culture, but apply the winning methodology. I encourage you as an individual contributor sales person, to keep your style, but understand how MEDDIC works, learn it, make it a habit and win with it. If you like what you read or watched, subscribe to our channel on YouTube , follow the MEDDIC Academy school page on LinkedIn and subscribe to the newsletter on the MEDDIC Academy website.

Posted on October 30, 2020 in Leadership, Management, MEDDIC, Sales, sales enablement, Sales Management, Sales Methodologies, Sales Training

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About the Author

Darius Lahoutifard, founder of MEDDIC Academy is a Serial Entrepreneur and a former Executive at PTC and Oracle among other software companies. His latest company was Business Hangouts, a Google G Suite live broadcasting app, with millions of users, acquired within 3 years. He is interested and writes about entrepreneurship, startups, technology, enterprise software, SaaS, Sales Leadership, Management, Sales & Leadership Education including specifically the MEDDIC methodology, Marketing, Market Research and more.
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