Breaking Down the Top 11 Sales Methodologies
Anyone can make a sale, provided they have enough persistence. But friends, if we’re talking about reeling in those sales on the regular, you’ve got to arm yourself with a powerful sales methodology. It’s not just about making the sale. It’s about doing it consistently and in style.
As a professional salesperson, this isn’t news to you. The problem is, with so many methodologies out there, it can be hard to decide which one works best for your needs. Each methodology is its own unique beast, with a few surprising overlaps.
Ask ten different salespeople which methodology they prefer, and you’ll get ten different answers. After extensive research (and lots of caffeine), I have compiled a list of the top eleven sales methodologies, carefully comparing and contrasting them one by one.
The Life-or-Death Importance of Handpicking a Kickass Sales Methodology
Morris Chang, the founder of the legendary T.S.M.C. Corporation, once said: “Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.” The same can be said of sales strategies—without a sound methodology to back it up, your skillful sales technique means nothing.
You can put a great deal of thought into creating a flawless sales technique, adopt the latest sales hacks, and learn every sales pitch in the book. But if you don’t couple that with a powerful methodology, all that effort could be going to waste.
How Sales Methodologies Impact Conversion Rates and Sales Success
Channelling your energy in a specific direction can significantly bolster your sales performance. For instance, let’s consider the method of social selling. Here, sales representatives harness the power of social media to forge relationships with prospective customers.
Compared to sales folks not practising this method, 78% of representatives employing the social selling technique have been found to outsell their peers.
Here are a few other ways that sales methodologies impact your success:
- Understand Your Leads: A good sales methodology can help you better understand your leads. With an understanding of the customer’s pain points, challenges, and motivations, you’ll be better positioned to tailor your pitch and close the sale.
- Generate Quality Leads: Sales methodologies can also help you create a steady supply of quality leads. By mastering the science of generating quality leads, you can avoid wasting time and energy running after people who won’t be interested in your product or service.
- Streamline Your Processes: With a strong sales methodology, you can create well-defined processes that will help streamline the sales cycle and accelerate lead conversion. You’ll also eliminate any hiccups or roadblocks preventing you from closing the sale.
- Build Lasting Relationships: A powerful sales methodology can help build lasting customer relationships. By assisting them to find real and tangible value in your product, you’ll be better placed to foster trust and cultivate loyalty that will stand the test of time.
- Easier Scaling Up: As your success grows, so will your customer base. A robust sales methodology can help you scale up operations with more remarkable finesse and efficiency while ensuring excellent customer service along the way.
- Enhance Your Performance Metrics: Each esteemed sales methodology incorporates measurable success indicators. These metrics provide valuable feedback and contribute significantly to refining your sales strategies and bolstering your performance.
Ranking the Top 11 Sales Methodologies
Fear not, whether you’re a grizzled sales veteran or a fresh-faced novice looking to make your mark. We’ve got your back! Each of the methodologies listed below offers a well-trodden path, almost like a G.P.S. route, leading you straight to your sales targets.
#1. Consultative Selling
The very essence of Consultative Selling lies in making your customer’s needs the nucleus of your sales journey. In this methodology, sales reps transform into trusted advisors, weaving enduring relationships with clients while steering leads toward a solution that aligns seamlessly with their needs.
Hatched in the groovy era of the 1970s by the eminent sales guru Mack Hanan, the Consultative Selling methodology has elegantly pirouetted through the disco ball of time. It truly struts its stuff when sales teams can pour their hours like a fine ’70s fondue into high-value prospects and when they’ve got the wiggle room to tailor solutions as deftly as a bell-bottom fit.
Consultative selling truly boogied its way into the spotlight during the neon-soaked era of the 1980s, when the tech titan I.B.M. took it for a spin on the sales dance floor. Given their role as a purveyor of intricate I.T. solutions, it’s no surprise that this methodology fits I.B.M. like a striking pair of leg warmers.
#2. Spin Selling
One of the rulers of the sales roost, Neil Rackham’s spin-selling methodology is a classic that continues to stay in vogue. The methodology combines insights from field research with classical psychology principles, offering a practical roadmap for sales reps looking to navigate complex selling environments.
Spin Selling focuses on understanding customer needs and tailoring solutions accordingly. It revolves around four types of questions that you can pose to potential customers:
- Situation Questions: The questioner focuses on understanding the customer’s current situation. They look to uncover the customer’s needs and challenges.
- Problem Questions: The questioner validates the customer’s problems while exploring potential solutions.
- Implication Questions: The questionnaire helps customers understand how their problems have implications across various aspects of their business. That helps drive a greater sense of urgency for resolving any issues.
- Need-Payoff Questions: The questioner strengthens the likelihood of closing a deal by helping customers project into the future and imagine the positive implications of any proposed solutions.
The brilliance of Spin Selling is that it helps sales reps get to the root cause of customer needs more effectively, which in turn leads to improved consultative outcomes. That’s why when you hear wise words about sales from your mentor, there’s a good chance they’re quoting from the Spin Selling playbook.
#3. Challenger Sale
The Challenger Sales methodology, a fairly fresh player in the sales field, might initially come across as just another trendy self-help slogan. Despite these seemingly superficial trappings, substantial real-world testimonies indicate that the essence of this methodology is indeed actionable and practical.
As per the insights of Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, the brains behind this methodology, five species of sales professionals are roaming the business landscape. These include the solitary predator known as the Lone Wolf and the diligent species labelled the Hard Worker.
However, sitting atop this sales food chain is the Challenger, a unique breed that boldly takes the reins of sales dialogues and dares challenge potential clients’ existing assumptions.
For example, the Challenger Sale approach focuses on demonstrating value in opposition to a customer’s status quo. It emphasizes that sales reps must frame their solutions within a larger context of organizational transformation for customers. In other words, this methodology suggests that salespeople should get out of their comfort zones and proactively challenge customers rather than just passively listening to them.
And yes, challengers get results: according to Datanyze, 40% of the top-performing sales teams use this approach. So, if you’ve got a bit of the daredevil in you and want to add some oomph to your selling style, you might just want to give the Challenger Sale methodology a try. Who knows: maybe it will take your sales performance and revenue bonus to new heights.
#4. Conceptual Selling
Ahh, the enigmatic Conceptual Selling.
While a lot of sales models encourage us to empathize with potential customers by addressing their problems, conceptual selling takes it up a notch. It propels us to step into buyers’ shoes and truly perceive the world from their vantage point.
From this viewpoint, salespeople can tailor their product or service pitch to harmonize with the customer’s ambitions. The ultimate goal is to hit the sweet spot of mutual benefit, where both the customer and the seller find their demands met and objectives achieved.
Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman introduced this revolutionary approach in their transformational sales tome. With Microsoft being one of the early birds to hop on board, conceptual selling has since been embraced by many businesses, especially those launching something fresh and unprecedented on the market.
The minor hiccup with this sales approach is that it might be a bit of a clock-eater. But hey, if you’ve got some spare moments, it could be the magic bean that grows your business to the sky.
#5. Solution Selling
Compared to other sales models, solution selling is quite a straightforward concept. It entails understanding the core problem of a customer and then tailoring your product or service to solve that issue.
Here’s how the process works:
- First, you determine your lead’s pain points
- You then frame your products and services as the ideal solution to those issues
- Next, you demonstrate how your offerings can provide value to the customer (as a solution to the pain points)
- Finally, you build your business case
Solution selling is common in B2B, where you must convince multiple stakeholders and build a case for your product or service.
The model is pretty detailed and even guides you on how to manage long sales cycles. That could be your best bet if that’s the case with your business.
At the same time, you should also remember that solution selling requires a thorough understanding of customer needs and demands — a skill not all salespeople possess.
The medic sales model has nothing to do with bandages or syringes. Quite the opposite, it’s a sales acronym for Metrics, Economics, Decision Process, Decision Criteria, Identify Pain & Gain, and Champions.
Meddic is the brainchild of two French-born sales trainers — Gilles and Marc Mulder. It emphasizes understanding customer psychology, which is crucial to any successful sales pitch.
Here’s what the acronym stands for:
- Metrics: The hard data that quantifies the potential gains that a customer could get from your product or service.
- Economic Buyer: The key decision-maker who has the power to make or break the deal.
- Decision Process: How are decisions made within the customer’s organization?
- Decision Criteria: What criteria are used to evaluate potential solutions and decide which one to purchase?
- Identify Pain & Gain: Understanding the customer’s pain points and how you can offer a solution.
- Champions: Who are the internal advocates of your product/service, and how do they influence the decision-makers?
This sales model is comprehensive and detailed. It’s well-suited for B2B sales and complex sales processes, as it allows you to get a complete and comprehensive understanding of your customer’s needs. However, since it’s quite elaborate and requires a lot of information-gathering, implementing it may take longer than other models.
Oracle has had great success with its implementation of the Meddic model. They developed a comprehensive system based on the model to ensure their sales reps are always well-prepared for customer interactions. This system includes processes for prospect research, qualification, and opportunity management.
#7. Sandler Selling System
During the 1960s, a sales representative named David H. Sandler found himself growing progressively disenchanted with his profession. Following a streak of 87 successive sales calls that culminated in disappointment, he chose to initiate a change.
His resolution manifested in the form of the Sandler sales methodology, an all-encompassing framework that not only addresses your sales strategies but also touches upon certain facets of marketing. It stands on several foundational principles, including:
- Foster Connections: The Sandler System pioneered many other sales methodologies, emphasizing the crucial role of establishing robust business relationships.
- No Pressure: Sandler believed that pressuring a customer into making a purchase is morally wrong and detrimental to the sales process. He started advocating for a more collaborative approach, with the customer’s satisfaction as the end goal.
- Lead Qualification: The model encourages sales reps to identify leads that are most likely to convert. That saves precious resources and can help your sales reps focus on the opportunities with the highest potential.
- “Don’t Spill Your Candy”: This phrase is a cornerstone of the Sandler process. It urges sales reps to avoid divulging too much information too soon. It reinforces the importance of actively listening and responding to potential customers.
- “Up-front Contracts”: In this step of the sales process, reps set expectations with their prospects. That prevents misunderstandings from occurring in the future and lays out a blueprint for successful dealings.
The Sandler methodology is perhaps best known for its reverse negative selling, which flips the sales process on its head. The idea is to start by playing down the idea of a purchase and then build up the idea of one instead. It helps create a sense of urgency without applying any pressure.
For example, instead of hyping up the product, reps might start by explaining how the customer could be stuck without one. It helps create an atmosphere of collaboration and understanding between both sides, ultimately leading to successful sales.
The Sandler System may set itself apart from other methodologies, but it does share many fundamental principles with them. Ultimately, the goal is always to create a mutually beneficial relationship with customers and build trust to make successful sales. By following these guidelines, sales reps can increase their chances of success and achieve higher customer satisfaction.
#8. Value Selling
For organizations operating in a high-competition environment, the value-selling methodology can yield remarkable results. This approach focuses on pitching the outcomes or value that your product or service can deliver to a prospective client.
This selling approach still necessitates a deep comprehension of your potential clients. The model accentuates the enduring worth of your customers. Representatives are encouraged to form long-lasting relationships throughout the customer journey instead of merely attempting to seal deals through transaction-focused dialogues.
As a general rule, value sellers must demonstrate why the buyer should purchase from them over comparable products or services. That’s done by emphasizing their unique offering and how it creates value for the customer, as opposed to simply highlighting features or advantages of the product.
Value selling is most useful when selling to a client who is already looking for a solution to their problem but hasn’t decided on a particular vendor yet. It can also be effective when your product has a long sales cycle, as it allows the customer to understand the full value of their purchase over time.
Using the value selling methodology, you can establish yourself as a trusted and reliable partner in your customer’s eyes. The idea is to focus on helping them solve their issue or achieve their goal rather than simply pushing for a sale. That allows you to create a strong emotional connection with the customer, paving the way for long-term relationships and greater loyalty.
#9. N-E-A-T Selling
Again, NEAT selling has nothing to do with cleanliness.
N-E-A-T stands for Need, Economic Impact, Access to Decision Makers, and Timeline. This model provides a framework for sales reps to evaluate the prospects’ needs and determine how well they match up with their offerings.
The methodology is a flagship creation of the Harris Consulting Group and emphasizes a thorough analysis of the customer’s goals, budget, timeline, buying process, and competition.
It was developed to overcome the problems of popular sales methodologies like A.N.U.M. and BANT, which relied heavily on the sales reps’ estimation of customer needs. By taking a data-driven approach to understanding their prospects, sales teams can better identify opportunities and craft personalized solutions.
Here’s a quick overview of the four components:
- Need: What is the customer’s need or pain point? What are they dealing with?
- Economic Impact: What is the economic impact of this need for the customer? How much does it cost them regarding resources, time, and money?
- Access to Decision Makers: Who are the organization’s decision-makers, and how can you access them?
- Timeline: When does the customer need a solution, what’s their buying process, and how long does it take them to decide?
The N.E.A.T. methodology primarily hinges on a process of thorough investigation. This customer-focused approach aligns well with the B2B brands seeking to understand their prospects in greater depth. The better you know your customer, the better you can customize and tailor your offerings.
However, B2C brands prioritizing speed and efficiency may not find the same value as N.E.A.T., as it takes longer to analyse customer needs and build a comprehensive solution. In this case, sales teams can look to more streamlined approaches like Account-Based Selling (A.B.S.) or Inbound Selling.
#10. Inbound Selling
Similar to inbound marketing principles, the inbound selling model is fundamentally anchored on drawing customers to your solution. That is achieved by offering value from the outset in the form of free guidance, suggesting prospective resolutions to their challenges, or simply empathizing with their experiences and offering helpful words of advice.
The goal is to create a connection and an atmosphere of trust so prospects feel comfortable engaging further in the buying process. Inbound selling also involves educating customers on your products or services — by sharing relevant resources or providing 1-on-1 demos — so they have enough information to make informed decisions.
Introduced by HubSpot, the Inbound Selling technique outlines a four-phase guide:
- Identify: First, your sales team has to recognize when a potential client expresses interest in their product. That’s why we have the sales journey map — so sales teams can be aware of the common signs of interest and reach out proactively.
- Connect: Once identified, the sales team should connect with the customer and build a relationship. That means engaging in conversation to understand their motivations, goals, and pain points more thoroughly.
- Explore: Here’s where sales reps can explore solutions and suggest ways the product could help them meet their needs.
- Advise: It’s time to present a tailored solution, recommending the best course of action. This step involves advising the customer on the most suitable products and services and providing them with additional details.
The inbound selling technique is an effective way of building trust and credibility with potential customers. By guiding prospects throughout their journey, you can demonstrate that your company is genuinely interested in helping them solve their problems—not just looking to make a sale.
#11. SNAP Selling
SNAP Selling is a sales methodology created by Jill Konrath that helps sales reps accelerate the buying process. Unlike traditional selling, which can be slow and laborious, SNAP aims to simplify complex processes for both parties. It does so through three main steps:
- Simplify: The first step involves simplifying conversations with customers. Your offers must be straightforward, your communication concise, and your sales process streamlined.
- iNvaluable: The second step is to prove your value. You have to demonstrate your value and what makes your product better.
- Align: Your offers must align with the customer’s needs. That means understanding their priorities and finding ways to tailor your solutions accordingly.
- Priority: Finally, you have to prioritize. You only have limited time and resources, so it’s important to focus those efforts on the most valuable prospects.
SNAP Selling is an incredibly useful sales methodology for businesses that must move quickly to close deals. By cutting through the clutter and streamlining processes, reps can focus on the right opportunities and close more deals faster.