Increasing sales and increasing profits is the goal of any business. The sales methodology that you choose is a critical building block of that success.
A sales methodology dictates how each salesperson in your company interacts with customers. Instead of having 20 different sales approaches, you can create a sales methodology that will ensure that every customer receives the same service from every salesperson.
However, not all sales methodologies are equal. Depending on your business model, the number of customers you serve, and your goals, you’ll need to see which methodology works best for you.
What is a Sales Methodology?
Sometimes people confuse the sales process and the sales methodology, but there are several important distinctions that set them apart.
A sales process applies to the entire sales cycle and is unique to your business. It usually consists of five to seven steps, from preparation to follow-up. You’ll have to develop your own sales process to reflect the priorities of your business.
A sales methodology is an overall framework that dictates how your salespeople approach each step of the sales process. Unlike a sales process, you don’t need to develop your own methodology. Whichever one you choose can be implemented to a broad spectrum of businesses and sales processes.
Many of the sales methodologies available are marketed by so-called “experts.” When you’re researching, be sure to look for any hidden sales pitches to ensure you’re choosing the best option for you, not just the best-marketed option.
9 Sales Methodologies You Should Know
Here’s a look at nine sales methodologies and what type of sale processes they are most suited for.
1. The Challenger Sales Methodology
Pioneered by CEB’s Matthew Dixon in a 2011 book, the Challenger Sales Methodology is focused on educating the customer. It has three parts:
- Educating the customer about the product
- Creating a unique solution for the customer
- Controlling the conversation
Often, customers come in with extensive knowledge about your products. Therefore, your reps must know the products down to the smallest detail.
In addition, sales reps should be knowledgeable about the history of your company and industry. They can then make recommendations or fix any false preconceptions the customer may have.
The Challenger Sales Methodology works best for B2B sales, particularly when you want to build long-lasting, meaningful connections with your customers. In a crowded market, this method will help you stand out from your competitors by highlighting details.
2. SPIN Selling
SPIN Selling is one of the most well-known sales methodologies, partially because it’s been around for a long time. Neil Rackham proposed the method in his 1988 book, Spin Selling. Although it’s more than 30 years old, the methodology remains relevant.
SPIN Selling focuses on questions and the idea that salespeople rarely ask questions they view as “unimportant.” Rackham’s methodology involves specific questions asked in a predetermined order.
SPIN is an acronym of the four stages of questioning.
- S: Situation questions gather information about the customer’s habits.
- P: Problem questions identify any potential problems with the customer’s current habits or products.
- I: Implication questions show the customer why they need to fix those problems.
- N: Need Payoff questions lead the customer into deciding for themselves that they want to purchase your product.
You’ll want to sit down with your sales reps and make a list of questions for each stage. Keep in mind that in the Need Payoff stage, subtlety is the name of the game. Don’t push; let your customers decide they need your product.
Once you’ve set the questions, you can plan the structure of the sale. According to the SPIN Methodology, there are four stages to every sale.
- The Opening: Use your situation questions to gain the customer’s trust and avoid starting off too intensely.
- The Investigation: This is the stage where you determine how you can help your buyer with your product. Ask problem questions to learn about the buyer’s unique issues.
- The Demonstration of Capability: Describe the features, advantages, and benefits of your product, including a connection between your product and the customer’s problem.
- The Obtainment of Commitment: In this stage, you’ll need to overcome any objections your customer has. Use Need Payoff questions to help them come to the conclusion that they should commit. Acknowledge any obstacles and refute them.
The SPIN Methodology can work in a single conversation or throughout several meetings.
In today’s social media-driven world, don’t forget to also include social selling in your tactics. Before speaking with your customer, be sure to research their company and learn what problems they might be facing. This can cut down on the first two question stages and will help create a sense of trust and comfort with your buyer.
This methodology works best when your buyer knows they have a problem but aren’t sure how best to solve it.
3. Value Selling
Instead of pushing the price or the product, use Value Selling to emphasize the value of your product to the consumer. By using this consistent methodology throughout the entire sales process, you will convince the buyer of your product’s value.
Often, buyers are overwhelmed with pressure to buy through ads and salespeople. Instead, build a relationship with your customer that’s centered on the value of your product.
The Value Selling Methodology has eight main points.
- Research your buyer: Tailor your pitch to each buyer’s needs.
- Hold off on your sales pitch: Ask questions, even if you already know the answer, to allow the buyer to express their own needs.
- Show the buyer the benefits and value of your product: Emphasize how your product can directly resolve their issues.
- Educate, don’t pitch: Since you know your customer’s problem, you must teach them how to fix it using your product.
- Guide, don’t push: Offer advice rather than instructions. If you can, use personalized stories as examples.
- Be personable: Use open-ended questions and keep the conversation casual.
- With every interaction, increase value: Never miss an opportunity to demonstrate even more about the value of your product.
Value Selling can be an excellent way to connect with your buyers and create long-term relationships.
4. Inbound Selling
The Inbound Selling Methodology is relatively new on the scene, having developed after the advent of the internet. Unlike outbound selling, the goal is to bring customers to you. Your marketing techniques need to be spot on.
Once your marketing strategy hooks your customers, they are more likely to contact you to complete their purchase. There are four steps to determine when and how you interact with your buyer.
- Identify: This is when you distinguish browsers from buyers. Your goal is to change them from “strangers” to “leads.”
- Connect: Connect to your leads and get them to consider purchasing your product.
- Explore: As the buyer explores your products and content, you can also learn more about them.
- Advise: Guide your buyer by answering questions and finding solutions to their problems. Ideally, this will lead to a purchase.
While Inbound Selling is a fantastic tool for companies, you do need to first spend some time making sure your marketing works. You might want to partner with a marketing company to increase the number of buyers you attract.
Inbound Selling builds on the idea that buyers are already educated on your product before they contact you. Don’t be condescending; acknowledge the buyer’s knowledge of your offerings.
5. N.E.A.T. Selling
Together, The Harris Consulting Group and Sales Hacker developed this methodology to replace the BANT methodology (budget, access/authority, need, timing). It’s all about qualifying the buyer’s needs and how your sales rep can meet those needs.
Use these four strategies when following the N.E.A.T. Selling Methodology.
- First, you should address the core Needs of the buyer. Instead of answering superficial questions, you want to understand and offer solutions to a buyer’s core issues.
- Next, you should discuss the Economic Impact your product can have. You’ll want to discuss the buyer’s current economic course and demonstrate how your product will positively affect it.
- Figure how to gain Access to Authority. If you’re not speaking to the CFO, find out if your contact can talk to that person for you. You want to be negotiating with someone who can make decisions for the company or who can influence the decision-maker.
- Set a Timeline for your buyer to encourage them to make a decision.
N.E.A.T. Selling is particularly appropriate for B2B businesses. Its emphasis on identifying the authority figure and the core needs of the buyer are fantastic when working with a large company.
6. SNAP Selling
Jill Konrath introduced the SNAP Selling Methodology in her 2012 book. This methodology focuses on understanding the modern buyer.
It includes four components.
- Keep It Simple: Modern life is full of distractions and things to do. A buyer doesn’t want a complicated pitch or product that takes valuable time to understand. Keep your product simple.
- Be iNvaluable: Take away the stress from your buyer by being as useful as possible.
- Always Align: Make sure you align yourself with your customer. Don’t share irrelevant stories. Show that your core beliefs match up with their needs.
- Raise Priorities: Your buyers are busy people. Quickly learn what their priorities are and focus on them.
Konrath also introduced a few key terms that help define her methodology.
- Buyer’s Matrix: The foundation of your sales strategies.
- D-Zone: Deletion Zone. Avoid it at all costs!
- Frazzled Customer Syndrome: Salespeople must work with busy, distracted buyers.
- Go Zone: When you receive a good response from a sales outreach.
- The Three Decisions: Three stages of a buyer’s decision: allowing access, switching from the status quo, and changing resources.
SNAP Selling is excellent for truly understanding and valuing your buyer. This methodology works for most companies, especially ones selling to busy and stressed buyers.
7. Customer-Centric Selling
Like some other methodologies in our list, customer-centric selling focuses on the buyer. Termed by the company of the same name (Customer Centric), this methodology involves five steps to learn what the buyer needs and develop a strong relationship with them in the process.
- Learn The Buyer’s Needs: Ask your customer questions. Why aren’t they buying your product? What could you improve? What do they see as the ideal product that would solve their current problem? Try to guide them to a different product of yours that will solve their issues.
- Consult: Rather than push your product and beliefs, act as a consultant. Sometimes, buyers are anxious about big purchases, particularly in the technology or auto industry. Don’t push your views; instead, guide them gently to decisions that will help them—and that don’t involve the most expensive options.
- Simplify Your Language: Don’t use technical jargon. Speak in terms the average buyer can understand. For example, instead of mentioning terabytes, talk in terms of how many movies that means. You don’t want to overwhelm your customer with jargon and have them walk away confused, even if they buy your product.
- Address Their Concerns: Answer any questions your customer has—and be sure to address any fears they have. If they are buying a car for their teenager, suggest a vehicle with a high safety rating. It they are shopping for a computer, recommend an antivirus bundle to protect their identity.
- Be Honest: Don’t lie. Don’t exaggerate what your product is capable of. Your customer can Google everything you say, and if they learn that you lied to sell them a product, they will probably return it and will likely badmouth you on reviews.
Customer-Centric Selling is particularly useful for companies that sell expensive items. Often, customers have anxiety about buying cars, large appliances, or expensive tech. Instead of overwhelming them with a pitch, make them feel comfortable and guide them to the best product for their lifestyle and needs.
MEDDIC, a methodology developed in the 90s for B2B companies, uses tech and metrics to create a numbers-driven methodology. It’s focused on qualifying customers, meaning you should only pitch to customers your methodology deems acceptable.
The acronym is the core of the methodology.
- Metrics: Determine the potential gain and the economic benefit
- Economic Buyer: Find the person in charge. Only work with someone who has the authority to complete a purchase.
- Decision Process: Learn about your client’s decision process, and then influence it.
- Decision Criteria: Learn about your client’s criteria for decision making, and then influence it.
- Identify Pain: Find problems or “pain points” at your client’s company that your product can relieve.
- Champion: Find influential people at your client’s company who can “champion” your product and push for a purchase.
This list is also known as the MEDDIC checklist. By following this checklist, your salespeople can determine if it’s worth pitching a sale. If there are some steps unchecked, that means you should find a different person within the organization to work with—or perhaps you should find a new potential client.
Instead of wasting time pitching your product to clients who will never buy, the MEDDIC Methodology ensures you only work with interested and receptive buyers.
9. The Sandler Selling System
Developed in 1967 by sales guru David Sandler, this methodology is well-known by many B2B companies. It reimagines salespeople as trusted advisors who are invested in the sale as much as the client. There are seven steps to follow in the Sandler Selling System.
- Bonding and Rapport: Good rapport helps promote business relationships. If your clients feel they can trust and rely on you, they are more likely to buy from you.
- Up-Front Contract: Set upfront rules for your meetings. Include a time and place, a purpose, the client’s agenda and your agendas, and a definition of success.
- Pain: Identify your client’s pain, which Sandler defines as their current issues or problems. Also, identify how your product can fix their issues.
- Budget: Learn your clients’ budget in terms of money, time, and energy. Do they want to fix their problem?
- Decision-Making Process: Learn everything you can about the buyer’s decision-making process. Discuss the who, what, when, where, and how with them. In particular, learn if you are working with someone from the company who has the power to make purchases.
- Fulfillment: Make a proposal. Be sure to stay within your client’s budget and acknowledge their decision-making process.
- Post-Sell: Seal the deal! Discuss your next steps and ensure that you don’t lose the sale due to buyer’s remorse or your competition. Set up a contract.
Sandler chose to represent his system with a submarine image. WWII movies showing sailors in submarines inspired him. When a submarine fills with water, sailors move through the compartments one by one, shutting each off as they fill with water. To avoid disaster on a sales call, follow each step, shutting the door behind you as you go.
This methodology is fantastic for B2B companies. It’s particularly useful for large companies that want their salespeople to follow a strict, well-laid-out methodology.
Choosing a Sales Methodology
There are dozens more sales methodologies to choose from, and there isn’t one correct answer. The best choice will depend on your business model, what types of products you sell, who your buyers are, and your core business beliefs.
You might start with one sales methodology and realize it isn’t bringing in customers. That’s ok—just try another one. Read reviews of the various methodologies, and ensure that you train your salespeople well in whichever one you choose.