A sales methodology is the guiding principle for behaviour of sales professionals as they make their way through the sales process. A company’s sales methodology framework defines how that business wants their products or services to be sold. It connects a buyer’s needs to your process and prepares your sales team for initial outreach, analysing opportunities and eventually closing the sale.
The best sales methodologies support all sales efforts. It’s the backbone of your sales process, focusing on call preparation, improving sales effectiveness, finding high-quality leads, and managing customer relationships. Methodologies create an environment for the salesperson and buyer that facilitates the sales and decision-making process.
The Importance of a Sales Methodology
Sales is the beating heart of a company, without sales, growth stagnates and this can end the life of any organisation. By implementing the right sales methodology a company can build a scalable model based on measurable sales performance. This model when seamlessly connected to your sales process and laid out in your Sales Playbook will help sales teams build direct, authentic relationships with potential customers.
Once a successful methodology is in place sales teams will have a consistent selling approach and this repeatable model will significantly reduce ramp up time as your business expands and new sales reps are onboarded. Customers also need a consistent experience, which will allow them to develop confidence in the sales professional and in turn their solutions. A universal selling methodology uncovers the customer’s needs without wasting time and drives efficiency.
Every business needs a sales methodology that best represents it’s product or service, values, market and goals. Here are ten sales methodologies to consider as you embark on this path.
This methodology focuses on customer-centric conversations, building on the strategic analysis that are covered in the patented Miller Heiman’s Strategic Selling® with Perspective. As a result, sellers learn how to carefully assess buyer needs, avoiding misalignment between what customers want and what sellers are presenting.
The six core benefits of Conceptual Selling are:
- Prepare for Sales Conversations – Plan ahead and conduct thorough research, adding discipline to customer meetings that are client-focused and results-orientated
- Run the Meeting – Using Green Sheet to organise and develop a detailed meeting plan to engage customers and build win-win outcomes
- Differentiate Your Solution – Conclude meetings with a clear differentiation of your solution that will move the opportunity forward
- Align Buyer and Seller Objectives – Both you and your customers have goals. Align seller objectives with buyer needs to keep everyone on the same page
- Ensure Productive Use of Time – Move opportunities forward by asking the right questions and planning ahead to ensure productive use of time
- Backed by Technology – A new sales analytics platform that uses data and analytics to support the methodology of Conceptual Selling
For more information around Conceptual Selling visit the Miller-Heiman Group.
Customer Centric Selling
This methodology elevates the buyer and empathises with their needs at every stage of the sales process. The seller adapts to the specific circumstances of the buyer, adjusting to their timeline and serving as a problem solving ally. You consciously put the sale team in the shoes of the buyer and work to integrate the customer experience across pre and post sales. The heart of the Customer Centric Selling methodology is a structure that allows sales and marketing to agree on Targeted Conversion Lists that identify the titles that sellers must call on to sell, fund and implement offerings.
According to the authors this methodology gives the seller mastery of the crucial eight aspects of communicating with today’s clients to achieve optimal results:
- Having conversations instead of making presentations
- Asking relevant questions instead of offering opinions
- Focusing on solutions and not only relationships
- Targeting business people instead of gravitating toward users
- Relating product usage instead of relying on features
- Competing to win, not just to stay busy
- Closing on the buyer’s timeline, instead of yours
- Empowering the buyer instead of trying to sell to them
Customer Centric Selling also teaches and reinforces key tactics that will make the most of your organisation’s resources.
For more information around Customer Centric Selling visit CCS.
This is a sales methodology, applicable to any Enterprise sales process which are complex. The MEDDIC checklist results in an objective assessment of the level of qualification in the sales campaign and the degree of confidence for sales forecasting. Any unchecked elements in the checklist points the sales rep to the right actions which should ultimately lead to closing the deal. The MEDDIC Acronym Stands for:
- Metrics – Quantification of the potential gain and ultimately the economic benefit
- Economic Buyer – Interaction with the person who has the decision control on the funds for the PO
- Decision Criteria – Process defined by the company to reach the purchase decision
- Decision Process – Criteria used by the company to make the purchase decision and choose among options
- Identify Pain – Actual pains at the company which would require your product/service to be relieved
- Champion – Powerful & influential persons at the company, who are favorable to your solution
This methodology allows sales reps to monitor the level of qualification/progress of a deal, leads to the next sales activity during the sales campaign, improves accuracy of sales forecasts, increases revenue through sales efficiency by better qualifying leads and reduce costs by early disqualification of deals that are not winnable.
For more information around MEDDIC visit the MEDDIC Academy.
This methodology is based around leading masterful sales conversations from “hello” to “let’s go” through a core consultative selling program. The program introduces the strategies and tactics that are the foundation of successful selling, and the key selling skills your sales team needs to become top performers according to the RAIN Group.
The three keys are:
- Leading Masterful Sales Conversations: A lot happens between the first “hello” with a buyer and receiving a signed contract. RAIN selling teaches sales teams how to lead this process with the greatest success.
- Uncover the full set of Buyer Needs: Problems. Pain. Needs. Most advice suggests you uncover buyer afflictions. But that’s only half the story. You must also uncover buyer wants, desires, and aspirations to provide maximum value.
- Craft Solutions that Win: People buy with their hearts and justify with their heads. Your solution must satisfy both and present a compelling impact case for why buyers should buy, and why they should buy from you.
At the heart of RAIN Selling is their acronym RAIN, which stands for:
- Rapport – Genuine rapport sets the table for the rest of the conversation and creates the foundation for trust
- Aspirations & Afflictions – Remember to ask future-seeking as well as problem-solving questions with themes like “Where do you want to go” and “What are the possibilities”
- Impact – Painting the “So what” picture and the foundation of how important it is for the decision maker to buy from you. The more impact, the more urgency to buy
- New Reality – Establish the new reality benchmark, quantify the impact and paint the before-and-after picture so prospects understand exactly what they will get when they work with you
For more information around RAIN Selling visit the Rain Group.
This sales methodology allows sellers to acquire a deeper understanding of their customers’ needs, build a persuasive case around specific problems and provide effective solutions. Huthwaite International say that this sales methodology isn’t based on trends or transient external forces. It’s grounded in observed, timeless human behaviour – behaviour that wins business.
SPIN selling proposes that there are four types of questions which form the SPIN acronym. The acronym stands for:
- Situation – Deal with the facts about the buyers existing situation
- Problem – Ask about the buyer’s pain and focus the buyer on this pain while clarifying the problem
- Implication – Discuss the effects of the problem, before talking about solutions, and develop the seriousness of the problem to increase the buyer’s motivation to change
- Need – Get the buyer to explain their explicit needs and the benefits your solution offers, rather than the seller explaining the benefits to the buyer
Neil Rackman author of SPIN Selling said “The Spin model is about understanding. I suppose the breakthrough with SPIN was it’s no longer about persuading customers, people persuade themselves. It’s about really understanding them and their needs, so they could do a good job of creating value.”
For more information around SPIN Selling visit the Huthwaite International.
This methodology aims at helping your sales team understand the decision making process of modern day buyers. Author Jill Konrath says “Your prospects will often make a SNAP decision that literally determines your fate, and if you don’t pass their test they will delete you into oblivion.”
The methodology consists of four components also referred to as “SNAP factors” which are:
- Simple – Make things easy and clear for your customers
- iNvaulable – Stand out by being the person your customers can’t live without
- Align – Make sure you’re in sync with your customers’ objectives, issues and needs
- Priorities – Keep the most important decisions at the forefront of their mind
Elements covered in the workshops are:
- Changing sales environment
- Overview of the four SNAP factors
- Key Buyer immersion
- Strong value propositions
- Leveraging sales intelligence
- Capitalising on trigger events
- Creating emails/voicemails that work
- Planning account entry campaigns
For more information around SNAP Selling visit Jill Konrath’s website.
Solution Selling (SPI)
This methodology puts the customer at the heart of both buying and selling processes. Understanding how buyers buy enables sellers to adapt their behaviour accordingly, leading to shorter sales cycles, higher customer satisfaction and improved win rates according to SPI (Sales Performance International).
This system sees developing the sales process and a process of continuous improving new knowledge, skills, abilities, and techniques that must be continually integrated into an organsation’s process. The structure for this ongoing cycle are:
- Project Initiation – Where new additions to the sales process are assessed
- Management Alignment – Where new additions are integrated into the sales process
- Management Review – Where new additions are deployed
- Management Debrief – Where new additions are sustained
Much of the Solutions Selling’s system is focused on not only the process but the execution. This is described through a four-step value cycle that builds up a sales position through the sales process. These steps are:
- Lead – Initial value proposition
- Verify – Refined value proposition
- Close – Value justification/analysis
- Measure – Success criteria
SPI’s research has determined that high-ranking buyers generally get involved in the sales decision at the beginning of a project to set the strategy and direction, and then at the end to evaluate success and make corrections The Solution Selling process therefore focuses a large part on salespeople developing strong relationships with executives and helping them initiate projects and achieve their strategic objectives.
For more information around Solution Selling visit Richardson Sales Performance
The Sandler Selling System
This system focuses on three key stages: building and sustaining the relationship, qualifying the opportunity and closing the sale.
- Building and sustaining the relationship: You learn how to take the lead in the buyer/seller dance, set clear expectations, and establish guidelines for the ultimate decision, all while establishing an open, honest relationship.
- Qualifying the opportunity: You’ll learn how you, the salesperson, will determine if there is a good fit with the prospects needs, budget, and decision-making process and timeline.
- Closing the sale: Should the prospect qualify for your solution, then you will learn how to make a no-pressure presentation, confirm the agreement, and set expectations for delivery and referrals.
The three key stages are implemented using the Sandler Submarine, which outlines the seven compartments for successful selling. This is a low-pressure, consultative selling approach that puts you, the salesperson in control of the discovery process.
The seven compartments for developing an opportunity are:
- Bonding and Rapport – Develop equal business stature and encourage open, honest communication
- Up-Front Contract – Establish roles and ground rules to create a comfortable environment to do business
- Pain – Uncover the problems and their potential impact to identify reasons for doing business
- Budget – Discover if the prospect is willing and able to invest the time, money and resources needed to fix the problem
- Decision-Making Process – Discuss the who, when, what, where, why and how of the prospect’s desired buying process
- Fulfilment – Propose your solution to the problem, within the budget and consistent with the decision-making process
- Post-Sell – Establish next steps, discuss future business and prevent the loss of the sale to the competition or buyer remorse
For more information around The Sandler Selling System visit Sandler Training.
The Challenger Sale
This methodology states the traditional approach to selling doesn’t work today. Deals are increasingly complex, and customers have access to more information earlier in the sale.
Gartner revealed that due to this more complicated sales environment, it’s no longer just about what you sell, but rather how you sell. Research showed that 53% of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience – more so than by the brand, product, service and price combined. A customer’s interaction with a sales rep largely dictates this experience.
This methodology breaks sellers down into five profiles. These profiles are:
- Hard Worker – Goes the extra mile, doesn’t give up easily, is self-motivated, likes feedback and development
- Relationship Builder – Builds strong customer advocates, is generous with time to help others, gets along with everyone
- Lone Wolf – Follows own instincts, is self-assured, is independent
- Problem Solver – Responds reliably, ensures all problems are solved, is detail-oriented
- Challenger – Has different view of the world, understands the customer’s business, loves to debate, pushes the customer
The outcome of the research showed that Challenger sales reps were most likely to win. Their selling behaviours built constructive tension and fell into three key areas of teach, tailor and take control.
- Challengers teach, offering a unique perspective and maintaining two-way communication
- They tailor their approach according to customer value drivers and economic drivers
- And they take control of the money discussion with the customer
In essence The Challenger Sale is an approach that stresses how customers can better manage their business and features a message tailored to customers’ specific needs and objectives. This approach helps customers focus on the most essential information about their purchase to help them reach a decision faster and avoid indecision inertia, while leading customers back to the suppliers’ key strengths.
For more information around the The Challenger Sale visit Gartner.
This methodology is a simple process to manage the conversation with prospects and customers, and develop a mutual understanding regarding how you and your organisation can add value to the buyer and their business. The conversational framework helps sales teams compete confidently on value, not price, using a time-tested, easy-to-adopt methodology. The simple, repeatable steps fit into a company’s existing sales routine.
According to ValueSelling Associates the framework is the first and only methodology with a toolset integrated throughout the entire sales cycle. The toolset saves time, effort and resources in all selling situations.
The six key elements are:
- Increase revenue
- Eliminate discounting
- Grow deal sizes
- Access decision makers
- Close bigger deals faster
- Increase forecast accuracy
Arming your sales team with this framework can lead to:
- Rigorously qualify prospects and eliminate the “no decision” sales cycle
- Efficiently prepare for sales calls
- Ask the right question in the right order at the right time
- Properly differentiate the breadth of your products and services
- Build insightful prospect profiles that increase your credibility
For more information around the ValueSelling Framework visit ValueSelling Associates.
Choosing the Right Methodology for You
Making the decision over which sales methodology to implement for your business is not an easy one. The initial cost can be high and ongoing costs can be even higher, but the benefits can be limitless if the right methodology is introduced and the quality of it maintained. When deciding on the sales methodology that would best represent your company there is really only four types of sales that you need to consider your business to be aligned to. Identifying which category your business fits into will enable better conversations when contacting the service providers above.
The four categories are:
- Transactional Sales – Short sales cycle, quick decisions, one decision maker. Buyers know their solution and require help making the purchase
- Solution Sales – Short sales cycle, decision can be quick, one, possibly two decision makers. Buyers understand their problem but require sales to address specific issues
- Consultative Sales – Long sales cycle, high lifetime value, multiple decision makers. Buyers are aware of a problem, but do not fully understand the solution and require sales to determine the situation and supply the right solution
- Proactive Sales – Long sales cycle, high lifetime value, multiple decision makers. The buyer is unaware a problem exists and the sales professional identifies and evokes an action
The principle of sales methodologies are very similar in most cases, but the underlying concepts are often to listen more, talk less, respect the time of your buyer, run the process at their pace, and be helpful even if they don’t buy.
The methodology you choose will of course depend on your product or service, but should also be considered on how your customers would prefer to buy. When deciding on a methodology think about how this will serve both your sales team and your prospects to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. Think about asking how these methodologies will provide value and educate your buyers so that your sales team can establish trust and improve performance.
There will always be a number of sales methodologies available for businesses to consider and these will continue to evolve over time, but one thing is for sure: no matter which methodology you decide to implement, this will only be as effective as the implementation itself.
Make sure your chosen sales methodology is fully included into your company’s Sales Playbook as you build your complete sales structure.
My article A Brief History of Modern Sales Methodology is also an interesting read.
“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied”
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