It’s relatively easy to make the odd sale here and there. However, winning sales consistently is challenging, especially if your business operates in a crowded niche. Implementing appropriate sales methodologies in your organization or company can increase your revenue sustainably.
Sales methodologies have a long history, starting with the barter trade. And some of these methodologies even apply today. However, if a sales methodology works for successful businesses in your industry, it doesn’t mean that it might work for you too. Before choosing a sales methodology in your workplace, you need to know more about its characteristics, as well as pros and cons.
Before we dive deeper, let’s make something clear: sales methodologies are not the same as sales processes. It’s easy to confuse both terms and use them interchangeably, but there are some key differences:
- A sales process is a set of steps that your sales reps use to bring leads to the point of sale gradually. On the other hand, a sales methodology focuses on a specific area of the sales process. You don’t see the methodology on your scheduling app, but it guides you as you fill in your calendar with sales meetings.
- Your sales process should be unique and rooted in your specific industry, products, market, and customers. With regards to sales methodology, you may have the same one as other businesses or even your competitors.
- Sales process focuses on the “what” and “when”, what to do next and when to do it. A sales methodology, on the other hand, emphasizes the “who,” “why,” and “how”, shortly put, who you are as an organization, why you do the things you do, and how you do specific tasks. In addition, this influences the future sales process improvements.
Before we discuss methodologies in more detail, let’s talk about the importance of implementing one in your organization.
Why you should consider implementing a sales methodology in your workplace
Many sales reps raise their eyebrows when they hear "sales methodology." But results don't lie: most industry leaders implement some sales methodology in their workplace. Let’s walk through some reasons for implementing it:
A sales methodology bridges the gap between theory and practice. A process is a set of selling guidelines, but in real life, different kinds of clients require different types of treatment. Sales methodologies allow your sales team to assess each client's current location in the customer journey, then create an action plan to push them closer to making a purchase.
A sales methodology clarifies your business processes. When you define why your business does specific tasks within the sales process, it becomes possible to experiment with different steps. Testing and measuring the effectiveness of these changes also becomes a lot easier.
A sales methodology improves hiring and training: Implementing a sales methodology will help you attract candidates with the right mindset and philosophy. It will also help your new employees learn how to navigate through your processes and help them understand why specific strategies work and others don't.
If you’d like to implement a sales methodology you increase your revenue, keep reading.
7 best sales methodologies
You can apply certain methodologies to the sales process's specific steps, such as discovery calls or lead qualification. However, it would help if you remembered that sales methodologies are not processes in themselves but serve as guidelines for dealing with potential and current customers.
The methodology you choose will determine the sales process you follow. Even though your sales process should be unique, nothing stops you from taking your cue from the most successful businesses' methodologies.
The Challenger Sale
The sales methodology described in a book “The Challenger Sales” written by Matthew Dixon — the management expert, has become one of the world's popular sales methodologies. The book divides sales reps into five profiles, each profiles having traits that make them successful. High-performing sales reps, however, tend to be Challengers. These sales agents perceive the world differently and they love to debate. They also possess in-depth knowledge of their customers' needs.
Challengers go out of their way to raise customers' awareness of new challenges and opportunities, then offer solutions to allow their clients to take on these opportunities successfully.
📚Recommended reading: 11 Sales tips that separate successful sales people from the rest
The Conceptual Selling model says that salespeople should control customer interactions by preparing them for meetings and focusing on the outcomes. This can be divided into five different sets of questions:
Confirmation questions: Questions that seek to validate the information that was previously given by the lead or discovered through other sources. "You’re in the pharma industry and would like to deploy an inventory tracking system. Is that correct?"
New information questions: Intended to clarify what the prospect knows about their desired solution while discovering the intended result. "What do you believe an inventory tracking system will do for your business? How will it positively impact your company?"
Attitude questions: This is where you seek to relate to the prospect on a more personal level by figuring out how they relate to the project. "How do you track your inventory today? Why haven't you looked into deploying an inventory tracking system before?"
Commitment questions: Ask how much the prospect is willing to invest (not just in terms of money but also in terms of learning) in a solution. "How important is this project for your company?"
Basic issue questions: These questions help you raise and discuss potential problems before they appear. "Here are the annual and one-off onboarding costs for our solution. Is this something your organization feels comfortable investing in?"
These conceptual questions help you paint a more accurate picture of the client's needs and what they're looking for in a solution. The answers to these questions should guide your sales processes and influence the expected outputs.
The rising popularity of omnichannel marketing platforms has created a sales environment where you can convert an onlooker into a prospect by posting an ad on social media or updating your blog.
The Inbound Selling methodology consists of four phases:
Let's think of inbound sales as a funnel. Your online assets, (such as your blog, social media, or guest posts) attract strangers who don’t know anything about your product. They can be converted into site visitors who might fill out a form or subscribe to your email list.
These visitors become potential leads, and through hyper-personalized email marketing, lead scoring, and CRM integrations, you find out their level of need and interest in your solution. You create marketing content that will convince them to click on the "Buy Now” button.
In the Inbound Selling methodology, however, the customer experience never ends with the purchase. Experts have recently added another phase where excellent post-sales service and useful content help transform customers into brand advocates, thus drawing leads into the funnel.
📚Recommended reading: Inbound reimagined: selling through messengers
MEDDIC methodology is a tool that B2B organizations in various industries have used since the late 80s to help them qualify customers.
The acronym "MEDDIC" stands for:
Metrics: What the customer hopes to gain if they choose your solution and how they will measure success. These gains should be quantifiable. For example, the company might want to reduce inventory losses by 25% within one year.
Economic buyer: Who makes the buying decisions on the customer side? Identify that person or group, then discuss project expectations and decision-making processes with them. If you can't get the information directly from them, try to get it from your client contact and use it in sales material to make your solution more appealing.
Decision criteria: What makes the client choose one solution over others? These criteria often include budget constraints, ease of use and available integration, customer service, and ROI. They will help you propose a solution that meets all your prospects' requirements and prove that you deserve their business.
Decision process: The decision criteria tell you what makes the client decide on a solution, while the decision process tells you how they choose. A decision process will often include the timeline for the decision, the formal approval processes, and who is in charge of each approval step. This will help you identify who to approach if you have a pending business proposal or need to know what is required to close the deal.
Identify pain: Your solution should fill a need, and identifying your prospect's pain points will also help you identify a solution that will meet those needs. For example, if the client has an issue with missing or mistracked inventory, you might position your solution as something that tracks inventory in real-time with a high degree of accuracy.
Champion: Finally, you'll need someone at the prospective client company who has a stake in your project's success and will benefit most from your solution. Because they need your solution, they will try their best to influence the decision-makers to approve it. They don't need to be an executive or manager, but they need to have good credibility within the company. A high-performing individual contributor might make a good project champion.
The MEDDIC methodology will give you the information you need to get more information about your prospects, qualify your leads, and identify which ones are winnable. As you get to know more about the customer, you'll see whether you have a chance of getting the contract. This will help you determine the number of resources to allocate to specific bids and forecast your sales more accurately.
This methodology is relatively new and it’s intended to serve as a guide to getting customers to stop what they're doing and pay attention to your sales message. Your prospects are busy and distracted, so your sales material should meet the following criteria:
Simple: Your solution should be simple enough for your prospects to swap what they're currently using for your product without much adjustment.
Invaluable: You need to know the value of your product and the best way to showcase it so that you can show your prospect how it can help them.
Align: Customers are more likely to buy from you if your position aligns with their own needs and beliefs.
Priority: To win deals, you need to discover your customers' preferences and then address those preferences.
SNAP identifies three crucial decisions involved in the sales process. Each decision guides the sales process to deal closure.
- Allow access to you and your products
- Moving away from the status quo
- Changing resource management strategies
SPIN Selling has been around for over 30 years, but it's still relevant today. This methodology empowers sales reps to lead client conversations with the right questions at specific phases. These phases are:
Situation: Here, you or your sales reps look at your prospect's current processes. This is where you ask, "How do you currently track inventory?" or do a quick look at the process document and ask them if you understand it correctly.
Problem: Your goal here is to get your prospect to identify their problems and think long and hard about the trouble these issues bring them. Once these problems start coming up to the surface, you'll be in a better position to make the customer want to solve them.
Implication: Your customers' problems make an impact on the business, and your job at this stage is to make them see that impact. If the issue isn't resolved, what happens next? You must be careful not to hard-sell your solution at this point. Instead, you must approach it with a sincere desire to help the client.
Need/Payoff: If your prospect recognizes the value of your product and the benefits it will bring to their business before you even have the chance to tell them, you've done the three previous stages correctly. Otherwise, this stage is your chance to introduce your product, align it with their needs, and convince them that it is the best solution for their problems.
The beauty of the SPIN Selling methodology is that it leads the prospect on a journey of self-discovery, with the sale being the logical conclusion of that journey. It does so without provoking the customer or bombarding them with constant sales messaging.
The Sandler Selling method
The Sandler Selling Method is one of the oldest sales methodologies in existence, but it is still taught in many leading marketing programs. It is based on customer buying behaviors and results in the buyer believing that they're pursuing the deal, not you, which often leads to a smoother sales transaction.
The Sandler method has three key stages:
Build and grow the relationship: Before you can sell a product, you need to gain your prospect's trust. The conversation should focus on their challenges, their plans, and what they intend to do shortly. To achieve their trust, you need to keep an open mind about their needs and display a sincere desire to help them get to where they want to be.
Qualify the prospect: You need to find out if your prospect is worth pursuing. Your solution might not be what they need, or it might exceed their budget. Attempting to sell to these prospects will only waste your time, so you need to know when to keep trying and when to let go.
Close the deal: If your prospect is qualified, you need to keep the conversation on track by returning to the initial discussion - their needs, their plans, and their pain points. This is where you convince them that your solution meets (and exceeds) their demands and offers them the best value.
This sales methodology helps your sales reps eliminate time wasted chasing unqualified leads earlier in the cycle, freeing them to pursue other opportunities that have a better chance of converting into sales.
BONUS: Targeted Selling
Targeted Selling or Targeted Account Selling is a B2B sales process that consists of developing hyper customized nurturing, engaging, and long-term relationships with decision-makers within companies you’ve identified as highly qualified targets.
The main goal behind TAS is to drive “high-ticket” sales using a set of personalized touchpoints throughout the buying journey.
Targeted Selling method has a three-step approach:
- Build a list of the best-fit customers (aka the Target Account List).
- Invest time and energy in research.
- Personalized outreach.
All set for a better sales structure
There is no such thing as a single best sales methodology. Even most well-known sales methodologies might not work for your business. Instead of just riding on whatever methodology is in fashion at the moment, you'll need to keep testing until you find something that suits your business model.
Deciding which sales methodology to implement may take a lot of time and effort, but the benefits are worth all the effort you put into implementing a reliable sales methodology.
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