miller heiman sales process

An introduction to the Miller Heiman sales process

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Posted by: Lucid Content Team

A sales methodology is the process or framework utilized by your salespeople, enabling them to effectively begin and engage in each phase of the sales process.

While similar to a sales process, a sales methodology differs in that it’s a disciplined set of principles and best practices that translate into salesperson actions, as opposed to only mapping out a series of steps that lead to sales success. A great sales methodology will describe the “how,” “what,” and “why” of your sales process, from gathering intel on a client to analyzing their business needs.

Ultimately, the value of a sales methodology is 1) repeatability and 2) scalability. Once implemented, it can make the work of recruiters, trainers, and sales managers much more efficient, as it offers a systematic approach to a seemingly un-systematic element: human behavior.

Obvious as it may seem, humans are not, in fact, widgets. Your clients, both real and imagined, have thoughts, perceptions, and unpredictability within their biological makeup. The benefit of research is that, despite the lack of predictability in human behavior, it can close gaps and increase your likelihood of predicting particular reactions based on calculated interventions or disruptions. Excellent salespeople are also excellent disruptors.

The Miller Heiman sales process is a modern approach to selling and a proven methodology for managing complex sales processes. Let’s break it down.

Getting familiar with the Miller Heiman sales process

Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman developed a methodology called Conceptual Selling® as a way to manage the various stakeholders and relationships that exist when a B2B transaction is large and complex. This methodology is best suited for selling between large businesses or when dealing with large sums of money that require many people to sign off or give approval in order to close the deal.

Conceptual Selling® earned its name because it requires salespeople to convince a customer to buy the concept of a solution, rather than a specific product or service. Because you are not only making a sale but also building a long-term relationship and adding to your referral network, the approach acknowledges the different phases of relationship building.

It requires you to investigate and set a single sales objective before the first call even takes place:

  1. What you will sell
  2. How much you will sell
  3. By which day you will have the approval

The Miller Heiman sales process is a proven framework to ensure that salespeople are thoroughly covering a given account. It is a methodology that goes through the sales process by creating opportunities, managing opportunities, and managing relationships.

The core of the Miller Heiman approach involves three steps:

  1. Categorizing the different contacts/roles by their influence on the given sales cycle
  2. Determining a potential client’s level of support for your proposition by flagging those who would support as well as those most likely to oppose the proposal
  3. Influencing that chosen crowd to help them reach a consensus for their buying decision

Lucidchart can help sales teams with this approach—reps can import Salesforce contacts to quickly build account maps that help identify decision-makers and the best path to sale.

basic account map example
Basic Account Map Example (Click on image to modify online)

The choice for today’s forward-thinking company

A true salesperson understands that an approach that is based solely on “closing the deal” can sever long-term potential.

As introduced by Xerox in the 1970s, the Professional Selling Skills® (PSS) approach was among the first sales frameworks that seriously considered the needs of the client. Satisfying client needs may be intuitive for some, but in the world of sales, there can be an unsavory and lingering reputation that persists—one characterized by a greedy disregard for actual client needs, both short and long-term.

The Miller Heiman Sales Process aims to dismantle that short-sighted perspective and replace it with an authentic, mutually beneficial and long-term relationship.

Is this sales methodology right for you?

As a sales model, the Miller Heiman methodology has a few key benefits for the salespeople who drive your company.

1. Get outside of your comfort zone

We all know that the definition of “insanity” is continuing to do the same thing expecting a different result. The Miller Heiman model allows lines of communication to extend beyond the low-hanging fruit and encourages salespeople to do their complete homework on accounts and not get stuck on the single contact with whom they feel the most comfortable speaking. In the world of sales, this is a common occurrence, even among the most experienced and influential leaders.

2. Move beyond one-size-fits-all

The Miller Heiman sales process provides a constant reminder that you need to offer a tailored value proposition to the different roles and individuals on the account. This means that salespeople can’t just deliver a one-size-fits-all sales pitch to everyone in the target account.

Gone are the days of salespeople refusing to also be researchers. Technology has given us access to so much information that there are no more excuses for reps not doing their homework prior to approaching a sales prospect. Reading is fundamental, and customization is the future.

3. Build trust

While there is certainly additional work required on the front-end, back-end benefits include long-term sustainability, deeply rooted relationship-building, and increased likelihood of repeat sales. Trust has always been a priceless and rare ingredient in every relationship. The companies who learn how to build the trust required for 21st-century sales success are the companies who will pull ahead in a quickly evolving global economy.

Innovation over time: past to present

The Miller Heiman methodology is, in a way, taking us back to the basics: relationship building, authenticity, and mutual benefit. It embraces the inherent complexity of organizations by including as many decision-makers as possible in the pre-pitch analysis. It provides the 21st-century salesperson a heightened level of critical thought required to reel in the “big fish” and manage complex sales processes.

Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman created their signature sales process as the result of decades of progressively innovative sales strategies. The duo began with the PSS and SPIN® Selling processes. As Miller Heiman Group’s core sales methodology, Strategic Selling®, has consistently been the go-to framework for globally recognized companies. Today, the original methodology is called Strategic Selling® with Perspective, and is often coupled with Conceptual Selling®, Large Account Management℠, SPIN Selling® and Professional Selling Skills®, depending on client needs.

Taking this sales methodology a step further

Have you decided to implement the Miller Heiman sales process in your sales org? Lucidchart is a perfect compliment to this groundbreaking methodology. Our visual workspace will help your team:

  • Identify key relationships and find the most efficient path to closed-won.
  • Track and monitor the health of all deals.
  • Conduct more effective deal reviews.
  • Ensure that account knowledge stays within the organization.

By helping teams to more effectively coordinate, communicate, and execute account-based strategies, Lucidchart leads to shorter sales cycles, bigger deal sizes, and more opportunities closed.

global account map example
Global Account Map Example (Click on image to modify online)

With a well-researched plan, thoughtful and thorough execution backed by the best tools available, your company’s success is all but guaranteed. A proven methodology for high-level sales, supported by Lucidchart, is the best way to ensure your major sales goals are not only achieved but managed and surpassed, quarter over quarter, year over year.

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Lucidchart is the intelligent diagramming application that empowers teams to clarify complexity, align their insights, and build the future—faster. With this intuitive, cloud-based solution, everyone can work visually and collaborate in real time while building flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, and more.

The most popular online Visio alternative, Lucidchart is utilized in over 180 countries by millions of users, from sales managers mapping out target organizations to IT directors visualizing their network infrastructure.

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