If you have the right sales methodologies in place, you can skyrocket your close rate.
Neat. But what the heck is a sales methodology? And how do I choose the right one for my business?
Read on to learn!
Table of Contents
- What Is a Sales Methodology?
- The Best Sales Methodologies
- 1. SPIN selling.
- 2. SNAP selling.
- 3. Value selling.
- 4. Solution selling.
- 5. Conceptual selling.
- 6. Target account selling.
- 7. Challenger selling.
- 8. Relationship selling.
- 9. Social selling.
- 10. The “Command of the Sale” approach.
- 11. The MEDDIC methodology.
- 12. The NEAT approach.
- 13. Sandler selling.
- 14. Consultative selling.
- 15. Inbound selling.
- How to Choose the Right Sales Methodology
What Is a Sales Methodology?
“Methodology” sounds like we’re either about to take a chemistry class or plunge into a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare.
A sales methodology is just a set of values, principles, or philosophies, combined with sales processes and strategic directives, which are cumulatively responsible for making your sales strategy work.
In other words, a sales methodology is the high-level game plan you’re going to lay out for your sales reps.
It’s what’s going to lead them to success or failure.
So yeah. There’s a lot riding on your choice when it comes to sales methodologies.
The Best Sales Methodologies
You’re starting a new character in your favorite role-playing game. Do you want the warrior, who hits hard and tanks damage, but can’t cast any magic? Or the cleric, who can heal your party and break spells, but who goes down easily and doesn’t deal much damage?
Okay, so maybe you’re not a nerd like I am. 😉
You’re building a fantasy football team. Do you want the promising rookie, who has a lot of talent but no experience and limited reliability? Or the well-rounded vet, who won’t be making crazy game-changing plays, but will always be on the field to help the team?
My point? Every methodology is going to have strengths and weaknesses. You need to choose the best fit for your organization if you’re going to succeed.
These are the best sales methodologies.
1. SPIN selling.
Situation, problem, implication, need/payoff.
Let’s start with SPIN selling, a strategy that stems from a Neil Rackham book from 1988. It’s one of the oldest sales methodologies that’s still in practice today – and it’s fairly reliable in the B2B world, though it’s not always the best fit.
SPIN stands for: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need/Payoff.
Essentially, the idea is to walk a prospect through these various stages. It’s your job to understand the entire situation – the landscape that exists for your prospect. From there, you’ll work to understand the main problem – the thing standing between them and their goal.
What’s the implication of that problem? How does it affect the client? What can you do about it? Once you understand this, you can jump to the need or payoff – how is your product/service going to help?
2. SNAP selling.
Simple, invaluable, aligned, priority.
Oh, cool, it’s another acronym. With SNAP selling, the letters don’t stand for a series of steps to follow in your sales process. Instead, they stand for the characteristics you should embody when selling.
First, you need to be “S” for simple. Your sales prospects are busy people. They don’t have time to listen to long pitches or go to countless meetings. So keep your interactions short, easy to understand, and to the point.
Next, you need to be “N” for invaluable. Yeah, that’s a bit of a stretch. But the point is to be seen as an expert – a valuable consultant or partner to your prospect, and not just a salesperson.
After that, you need to be “A” for aligned. You and your prospect are a team, working together to solve a problem.
And of course, you need to be “P” for priority. You need to make sure solving this problem is your prospect’s main objective, so they’ll stop procrastinating and close the sale.
3. Value selling.
Value of product, not the product itself. Price-benefit, subjective. Let’s look at value selling.
As the name implies, the point here is to convince your prospect that you have a valuable solution for them to buy. You’re selling the value of your product, rather than the product itself.
What is value? It’s the sum total of the benefits minus the price of a given product and service. Depending on the product, that might be time savings, cost savings, or other subjective benefits. Your job is to make these benefits clear, proving them when possible.
You’ll also need to convince the prospect that the product is worth paying for. Sure, it saves an hour a week. But is the $50 per month fee justified?
4. Solution selling.
Many salespeople already take a “solution selling” approach naturally.
The idea here is that instead of selling a product, you’re selling the solution to a problem. Your prospect is dealing with something difficult – a pain point that you’ll need to discover. Your product is simply a way to make that problem go away.
With this methodology, you’ll need to work hard to discover the true problems your customers face and demonstrate how your products can eliminate them.
5. Conceptual selling.
Conceptual selling is similar to solution selling, with one key difference: you’re selling the idea of your product, and the idea of working with you.
The best approach here is to try and establish the sale as a win-win for both your company and your prospect.
Why is this a mutually beneficial arrangement? Why is your prospect going to be in a better position once they buy your product?
6. Target account selling.
Many modern businesses use a target account selling approach, with both inside and outside sales reps.
The idea here is to assign various clients to each sales rep in your team. This allows them to get to know each client in their portfolio much better, building a stronger relationship.
This is a great methodology not just for acquiring new accounts and new customers, but also keeping your existing relationships healthier.
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7. Challenger selling.
The “Challenger” selling approach gets its name from a salesperson archetype outlined in the book The Challenger Sale from 2013.
Other archetypes are hard workers, lone wolves, relationship builders, and reactive problem solvers – all of which can be effective. However, “Challengers,” the fifth archetype, tend to be the most successful.
Challengers push constantly. They’re aggressive and proactive, and they love debating. They often work hard to not just meet expectations but exceed them.
8. Relationship selling.
As you might suspect, relationship selling is all about building and sustaining better customer relationships.
Here, the sale stems from trust and respect. When you work together with a prospect and teach them new things, help them identify their problems, and work with them consistently, they grow to trust you.
They become much more likely to buy what you’re selling.
Then, once the sale is complete, maintaining and nurturing that relationship can lead to more sales and a better working relationship well into the future.
9. Social selling.
Social selling takes elements of relationship selling and puts them in a social media-driven world.
With social selling, your sales reps will spend a good chunk of their time networking, meeting new people, getting referrals, and working their way into various important groups.
It’s ideal if your business favors word-of-mouth growth or if you want to expand along the lines offered to you by social channels.
10. The “Command of the Sale” approach.
In the “Command of the Sale” approach, your primary goal will be building sales rep empowerment. In other words, you want your sales reps to be well-trained, well-educated, and have access to the best possible sales tools to do their job well.
That means equipping your salespeople with the right devices and productivity software, providing them with adequate resources, and helping them learn as much as possible about your leads.
Hire good people, give them what they need, and the rest will take care of itself – so says this methodology.
11. The MEDDIC methodology.
More acronyms! The MEDDIC methodology stands for: Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, and Champion.
You’ll start by analyzing the situation, studying the competitive landscape and better understanding your customers. You’ll identify the best possible candidates from a broad pool. You’ll figure out what this prospect needs to make a decision.
You’ll guide them through the decision making process. You’ll note and overcome their main pain points. And you’ll designate a rep within your team to be a “champion” assigned to this client.
12. The NEAT approach.
There’s also the NEAT approach, covering Need, Economic impact, Access to authority, and Timeline.
You’ll start by figuring out what each prospect needs (whether they realize it or not). You’ll study the economic impact of your product or service (in other words, how is this going to help their bottom line?).
Then, you’ll figure out who’s in charge of making the decision and get in contact with them and begin setting a timeline.
13. Sandler selling.
In the Sandler selling method, the idea is to make the customer want your product/service naturally.
Generally, you’ll follow a three-step process of building relationships, qualifying customers, and eventually closing. Like in relationship selling, you’ll try to build lots of trust and strong bonds before you move to a strong sale.
You’ll only move in on qualified customers who might actually buy from you – and that makes closing much easier.
14. Consultative selling.
In consultative selling, your sales reps aren’t just sales reps. They should consider themselves to be consultants working on your prospects’ behalves.
This sales methodology is strong because it builds trust naturally. When you’re literally helping your clients accomplish more, they’ll be much more willing to listen to you – and more likely to buy what you’re selling.
15. Inbound selling.
Finally, there’s inbound selling.
The concept here is to limit the amount of outreach conducted by your sales reps. Instead of going out to find and meet with prospects, you’ll be inviting them to your website naturally.
You’ll use a combination of marketing strategies to bring more people in, provide them with educational resources, and make them interested in buying from you – all before they have their first conversation with sales reps.
In this sales methodology, your sales reps will almost exclusively talk to people who have already discovered and expressed interest in your products.
How to Choose the Right Sales Methodology
Any of these sound like a good fit to you?
Here are some tips to help you find the right sales methodology and use it effectively in your business:
- Complement your business. There isn’t one sales methodology that’s strictly better than the others. Look for one that’s a good fit for your sales team, your product, and your target clients.
- Mix and match. You can mix and match sales methodologies a bit. Voltron together your own unique methodology, combining your favorite parts of existing frameworks.
- Let individual sales reps use what works best for them. Don’t lock your salespeople into a single sales methodology or approach, even if it’s working for other reps. Your individual sales reps are going to have unique strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits that can empower them in a sales environment no matter what other processes you have in place. Give them the freedom to find their own style.
- Experiment and adapt. Finally, take the time to experiment with different sales methodologies and adapt accordingly.
If you want to be successful with any of these sales methodologies, you need some way to track, measure, and analyze your progress. Which of your techniques and experiments are working? Which ones are falling on deaf ears?
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Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.