Expert selling doesn’t just happen. There’s a method to the madness and it comes in the form of a carefully crafted sales methodology strategy.
Sales methodologies provide structure and strategy to customer interactions. They help sales reps navigate the thousands of scenarios and situations that present themselves throughout the sales process. With them, you can improve the quality of your conversion funnel, build better relationships, and close more deals.
Before we get into seven of the best sales methodologies to use today, let’s quickly discuss exactly what a sales methodology is:
What is Sales Methodology?
Often informed by customer psychology, a sales methodology is a set of rules, principles, or philosophies that guide how sales reps interact with and sell to customers. They turn goals into actionable, measurable steps that empower reps to engage customers and close deals.
Where your sales process maps the steps you should take to make a sale, sales methodologies dictate the approach you should use at each step. More specifically, they focus on fine-tuning interactions for specific stages within and between the sales pipeline.
The secrets to a good sales strategy are adaptability and innovation. Whether you use one generalized methodology or five, utilizing these frameworks is less about mastering the intricacies of the methodology and more about implementing the right methodology at the right time.
7 tried and tested sales methodology strategies
There are dozens of different sales methodologies, all with unique strengths and weaknesses. Here are seven of the most popular.
1. SPIN selling
Developed by Neil Rackham, SPIN is a traditional framework that focuses on discovering customer pain points to tailor solutions and build rapport. In this model, a sales rep’s main task is to quickly diagnose the prospect’s pain point during the discovery and qualification stages.
SPIN is an acronym for the four types of questions that sales reps should ask prospects:
- Situation: What is the prospect’s current situation in relation to your product? What resources do they have? What processes do they follow?
- Problem: Delve deeper into customer pain points to determine the root problem/s your customer is dealing with and exactly where they exist within the business.
- Implication: What consequences will the prospect face should they fail to fix the problem?
- Need-Payoff: What will the prospect’s situation look like with a robust solution? How will the investment pay off?
2. The challenger sale
“The Challenger” is one of five B2B sales rep personality types created by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. Challengers thrive on debate and education, acknowledging that the modern customer has already done their research. Their unique view of the world and studied understanding of the customer’s business enables them to challenge views and deliver new, exciting insights.
The Challenger is the highest performing sales personality type. According to Gartner, about 40% of star performers are Challengers.
Image sourced from Gartner.com
Challengers use this teach-tailor-take tactic to close deals:
- Teach with insight, educating the prospect on unknown challenges and undervalued opportunities
- Tailor the solution to the customer’s pain points with an intimate understanding of the customer’s business
- Take control by effectively handling sales objections with a strong focus on value as opposed to forming a friendly relationship.
3. NEAT selling
NEAT prioritizes understanding the prospect’s core needs, both individually and on a financial, business-wide scale. It was designed as a modern alternative to the BANT (budget, access/authority, need, timing) and ANUM (authority, need, urgency, and money) methodologies.
Instead of qualifying for purchase, NEAT qualifies based on whether the solution can help the customer. It stands for:
- Need: What are the prospect’s core needs and pressing pain points?
- Economic impact: What current and future financial implications will the prospect face if they fail to take action? What financial benefits does your solution provide in terms of ROI?
- Access to Authority: Who is responsible for finalizing the deal? If you can’t get direct access to the decision-maker, is there a champion who can appeal on your behalf?
- Timeline: When is your closing deadline? Creating a sense of urgency can speed up your prospect’s decision-making process. With proposal automation software, you can even keep track of when a prospect opens, comments on, or completes your proposal.
Meddic is a sales methodology that focuses on lead qualification in relation to the success of making a sale. Developed by the Parametric Technology Corporation, this rigid, tech-driven methodology is designed for complex and enterprise-level B2B sales
Ready for another acronym? MEDDIC stands for:
- Metrics: What quantifiable result does the prospect wish to gain from the solution?
- Economic Buyer: Who has purchasing authority? Identify the decision maker and aim to appeal to that person specifically – it’s unlikely to be the first rep you contact. You’ll likely need a vanity number and an advocate within the prospect’s business in order to make this connection directly.
- Decision Criteria: What are the prospect’s formal evaluation criteria? How are these criteria weighted? For example, a company looking to improve their QoS analytics solution might be comparing and evaluating different solutions’ usability, integrations, onboarding time, price vs budget, etc. By understanding how these factors are weighted, you can tailor your sales conversation accordingly.
- Decision Process: How many steps are in the prospect’s internal decision-making process? What sign-offs and approvals need to be made? Who makes the final decision? This information enables you to keep track of your sale as it moves through their organization, meeting their requirements efficiently and eliminating buyer silence.
- Identify Pain: What are the pain points that the prospect is facing and what are the implications of failing to solve them?
- Champion: Who is your biggest advocate within the prospect’s company? This will be the person who is most affected by the pain points or has the most to benefit from your solution. Building a relationship with this individual is important as their advocacy has the potential to significantly influence the decision-making process.
5. SNAP selling
SNAP selling is a fresh, speedy approach to sales that targets the busy buyer. Jill Konrath, the developer of SNAP, recognized that the modern buyer doesn’t want to go through lengthy, complex sales processes – they just want simple, no-fuss solutions.
The four principles of SNAP are:
- Keep it simple
- Make your product and expertise invaluable
- Align your solution with your customer’s unique needs
- Prioritize your prospect’s most important goals
6. Inbound selling
Intricately entwined with your marketing strategy, inbound selling methodology meets prospects where they already are.
The inbound sales strategy acknowledges that traditional outbound lead generation and selling techniques (like cold-calling and email outreach) aren’t enough to get by in the digital age. Instead of approaching prospects with impersonal, sales-y scripts, inbound selling essentially motivates prospects to come to you.
By utilizing website and social media data and analytics, businesses can create hyper-targeted and personalized messaging and identify actively engaged leads. Using this method, potential customers are delicately encouraged to move towards the desired action, which is usually the initiation of contact.
Along with a contact form, email address, and social media messaging, make sure you get a business toll-free number so that potential customers can contact you for free.
7. Conceptual selling
Conceptual selling aligns with the belief that customers don’t buy products – they buy concepts. The aim of the seller is to uncover the prospect’s concept of their problems and tie their solution to meet the prospect’s end goal.
Through active listening and asking questions, sellers can guide buyers towards a win-win solution. The questions that sellers need to ask are detailed by the creators of the conceptual selling model, Stephen Heiman and Robert Miller. They are as follows:
- Confirmation questions: To reaffirm affirmations.
- New information questions: To clarify the prospect’s concept of the product and explore their desired end-goal.
- Attitude questions: To build a personal relationship and delve into the connection that a prospect has with the project or problem.
- Commitment questions: To determine the prospect’s level of commitment to the project
- Basic issue questions: To raise potential problems for the purposes of overcoming objections.
Despite active listening being ranked by 42% of customers as the number one skill that they expect from sales professionals, sales managers rated it as the seventh most important skill. This is potentially why conceptual selling is (wrongly) under-utilized by businesses.
Another reason why some businesses choose not to use conceptual selling is because it is one of the least pushy types of sales methodologies. Conceptual selling prioritizes problem resolution and customer satisfaction, so sellers are encouraged to walk away from sales that don’t benefit the customer.
In a climate where your business’ reputation matters more than ever, conceptual selling forges trusting, mutually-beneficial relationships that drive repeat sales and create loyal customers.
Sell smarter with a sales methodology
At the heart of it, modern sales methodologies are customer-centric. Just like you’d get an 800 number to allow prospects to call you for free, or implement live chat for the provision of omnichannel customer service, you’d implement a sales methodology to put your customer at the center of your sales initiatives.
The right sales methodology for you will be the one that best enables you to meet the needs of your prospect. Providing value to your customer should be at the forefront, with a focus on how they prefer to buy, what problem they’re trying to solve, and how your solution can help them. And, of course, they should also empower sales reps to connect with prospects on a deeper level, tapping into pain points and needs to build mutually-beneficial relationships.