February 27, 2021

What Are Sales Methodologies? Guides And Examples

People.ai
What Are Sales Methodologies? Guides And Examples

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Organization and proper guidelines are two of the most significant elements of business success. While this is true regardless of industry, sales teams, in particular, benefit from having a set of standards to guide their work and unlock maximum productivity.

How do you set and implement these standards? That’s where sales methodologies come in. Keep reading to learn more about what a sales methodology is and how to implement it in your organization properly.

What Is A Sales Methodology?

A sales methodology is a framework that salespeople can use to inform their decision-making process throughout the sales cycle. It helps the individual sales professional by providing the specific steps to take for each stage, ranging from the types of questions to ask a potential buyer to effective sales techniques.

In short, it provides a sales model’s how and why while acting as a roadmap for the selling process.

Implementing a formalized methodology with sales teams can be a challenging task. The discipline introduced by popular methods must be consistent, which means the language and processes used should be uniform throughout a sales organization.

This supports scalability for key decision-makers in an organization. After all, a well-implemented sales methodology can provide the average salesperson with the tools they need to excel at their jobs, so application across all levels is essential.

Do I Need A Sales Methodology?

While a framework is not a requirement in a sales organization, it can help your entire sales team fulfill their tasks effectively. Methodologies address one basic issue in organizations: a lack of structure and discipline.

What’s more, methodologies aren’t exclusive to sales teams. They can be applied to the entire organization, from your executive sales strategist to your board of directors. A complete sales methodology helps your team get on the same page, which is essential when meeting the organization’s larger goals.

In short, you don’t need one, but you’d be missing out on one of the most significant factors for numerous companies’ success.

Importance Of Having A Sales Methodology

Business marketing and sales strategy practices tend to change at breakneck speed, so your team needs a proven and practical approach to rack up wins. That’s where the importance of popular sales methodologies lies.

A complete sales methodology acts as the anchor for your entire sales team. It provides scalable, repeatable, and predictable methods that regular sales training may lack. Here are a few other reasons why the right framework is essential for your organization:

  • Provides strategies for navigating the ever-changing landscape of transaction selling and customer-centric selling
  • Gives tools to evaluate a business opportunity or situation properly
  • Establishes a common language for your entire sales team that details the decision-making process around sales
  • Identifies best practices in the selling process
  • Sets a foundation for replication, allowing the average sales representative to emulate top performers
  • Allows for a scalable sales methodology training

How To Implement A Sales Methodology

1. Map Your Entire Sales Process

A sales methodology aims to improve an active buyer’s experience with a company. As a result, these frameworks need to be designed around the buying decision. But before anything can be applied to the buying process, it needs to be mapped out first.

Here’s how to break the process down:

  1. Define each stage in the buying process: The first thing you need to do is establish the goals of sales teams and who manages specific tasks. Are your inbound sellers aware of your decision criteria? Do your sales experts know who to report to? We also recommend getting reacquainted with everyone’s roles and sales capabilities.
  2. Build a visual representation of the process: Once you’ve mapped out all the tasks carried out in your organization, you need to build a process chart, whether on paper or by using sophisticated software.
  3. Map your existing methods: The next and final step of mapping out the sales process is interviewing your sales experts, analytical sales leaders, and department heads to identify their daily tasks and goals. This will give you unique insight into your existing processes.

2. Establish Buyer Personas And Needs

Once you’ve gathered the necessary knowledge about the inner workings of your organization, you’ll need to address a significant business challenge. Specifically, building a bridge between your goals of sales and the potential customer.

To do this, you can employ quantitative research methods like questionnaires to peer into the minds of your active buyers. Alternatively, your workforce can ask qualitative questions at the end of their sales calls. The end goal of this research is to identify your buyer’s needs.

These needs can be separated into two categories:

  • Financial needs: Financial needs refer to the value provided by your service or product. For example, B2B buyers using your service may cut down on time spent completing menial tasks. This results in more time spent on more critical parts of their jobs, increasing both productivity and revenue.
  • Personal needs: A customer’s personal needs refer to the reason behind their buying decision. Did they purchase your product or service because of the economic impact on their income? Or did they use your product to further their career?

Not included in these two categories are responses to the types of questions about customers’ motivations, which are usually relevant to pricing; sentiment toward your brand; and business marketing. For example, you may discover that some buyers were tentative about making the jump due to your pricing, while others are more inclined to purchase because of a personal affinity.

In short, almost all buyer information is essential, but focused data collection will save you time and money. Ensure that you know what you’re looking for before starting this process.

3. Develop A Complete Sales Methodology For Every Part Of Selling Processes

While developing domain knowledge about your processes and gathering customer data is an excellent start, you won’t see the fruits of your efforts without a complete sales methodology.

Earlier, we recommended building a process map detailing the sales funnel and all the steps your team takes to guide a customer along their journey. This process map enables you to break down your organization’s workflow and apply the proper methodologies to each step.

That said, you don’t need to stick to one specific methodology and exclude other schools of thought. Instead, we recommend mixing and matching parts of different frameworks to suit your particular use case. You can even develop your own framework if necessary.

4. Create Sales Methodology Training Materials

The next and final step of implementing a framework is developing materials for sales methodology training. Your goal is to ensure every member of your organization understands the importance of your chosen methodology on top of implementing it during the sales process.

For the average sales representative to hone their skills over time, you need to offer hands-on training and regular refresher courses. You may also want to develop metrics for proper sales techniques and check in with your salesforce periodically.

Best Sales Methodologies

1. SPIN Selling

The SPIN sales methodology is one of the oldest frameworks currently being used, and its age is an indicator of how effective it is in sales calls. But how does it work?

SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff. This framework helps you reach your goals by directing customers with leading questions and giving them ownership over their own needs.

Let’s break down the SPIN methodology into parts:

  • Situation phase: During the situation phase, sales reps are mainly focused on assessing a potential client’s current circumstances. They’ll ask confirmation questions to clarify the situation and encourage the client to express their problems, leading to the next phase.
  • Problem phase: The problem phase is when inbound sellers get clients to describe their pain points (even subconscious ones) by asking the right questions. This allows the potential buyer to feel a sense of ownership over their troubles, which usually results in wanting to resolve them immediately.
  • Implication phase: Inbound sellers use implication questions during this phase, which usually leads buyers to understand the impact of their specific problem. However, sales reps should note that these implication questions should be motivated by a genuine desire to help – not to sell immediately.
  • Need-payoff phase: As with the previous phases of the sale, your sales team will have to use need-payoff questions to drive the point home. These questions need not be explicit – the ideal outcome is that clients realize the value of your specific product before any sales talk takes place.

2. Conceptual Selling

Conceptual selling is an unconventional yet effective framework used in many companies. This methodology focuses less on sales reps listing benefits and more on posing intelligent yet simple questions to understand the prospective client better.

Sales reps are required to listen intently to customers’ responses. This helps them better understand the client’s concept of a product or service, allowing them to relate it to their problems later.

How does conceptual selling work? The methodology breaks down the customer journey into three phases: getting information, giving information, and securing a commitment.

As prospective clients move from one step to the next, sales reps will ask a series of questions that may fall into any of the following categories:

  • New information questions: These are usually simple questions about the customer’s concept of a specific product as well as their goals and motivations.
  • Confirmation questions: Confirmation questions seek to reaffirm previously mentioned information.
  • Attitude questions: These simple questions are designed to help you get to know the client a little better. This can include personal motivations and their connections to your product or brand.
  • Basic issue questions: Once you’ve gotten to know the client, basic issue questions can bring up potential issues that a client has. This may prompt them to seek an immediate solution via your product.
  • Commitment questions: These are additional information-gathering questions after a commitment has been made.

3. MEDDIC

MEDDIC is a sales methodology geared toward B2B buyers and effectively spending resources. It focuses on qualifying customers based on specific criteria, so your sales force knows whether they should expend effort into converting a client or not. The rationale is that better-qualified buyers are more likely to purchase a service or goods, which means you get more profit for less effort.

MEDDIC is an acronym for Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, and Champion. The MEDDIC approach is particularly attractive to sellers who are averse to sales talk. That’s because it hinges on data collection and providing concrete solutions to a problem.

Here’s how the MEDDIC methodology interfaces with the sales process.

Metrics

The first thing your sales rep needs to achieve is to identify the potential client’s desired gains and goals. These outcomes must be quantifiable, like increasing sales by 20% or getting new products out on the market 40% faster.

These metrics will allow you to better describe how your product can help a client achieve their goals. Once the hard figures are out there, clients are more likely to be interested in your service.

Economic Buyer

The key to closing a sale is finding the person who can actually make financial decisions for their company, like an economic buyer. Even if your initial point of contact isn’t a higher-up in the organization, it’s still worth gathering information about the economic buyer. This way, you’ll be able to establish a connection while learning how to make the sale more attractive to the person in charge.

Decision Criteria

One of the biggest factors to winning over a client is understanding their decision criteria. If you’re dealing with a bigger prospective client, chances are that many companies like yours are offering solutions to their problem.

Understanding their thought process makes it more likely that you’ll win the account. Some of the factors that companies favor are simplicity of use, price, and return on investment.

Decision Process

While the decision criteria lets you know how your client decides on a solution, the decision process gives you the specifics of buying. In discovering a company’s decision process, you’ll learn who makes the decisions, which departments are involved, and a rough timeline on how long the transaction will take. Understanding these factors will help your salesforce meet the client in the middle and stop the trade from stagnating due to internal factors.

Identify Pain

Every buyer seeks a solution to their problem, and it’s your job to find out what that problem is so you can solve it with your product. Unearthing vague issues like “we want to cut down on production time” isn’t enough. Instead, aim for concrete explanations of the problem so you know how to frame your pitch.

Champion

Sometimes, the best sales are made from the inside – that’s where your champion can help. A champion is a well-respected employee who works for your client and is deeply affected by the problem. As a result, they will feel more motivated to push for a solution.

This champion doesn’t necessarily have to be an executive or a manager, but they have to be well-liked enough to make a difference.

4. Solution Selling

Selling a product is straightforward – all you need to do is find a problem and offer to fix it with your service. That said, selling a solution can be tricky, which is what the solution selling methodology focuses on. Sales reps have to essentially “diagnose” a prospect’s issue and suggest a range of products and services that can help them.

sales reps need to have a certain level of knowledge to use the solution selling methodology. Clients usually don’t know what’s causing their issue – only ITS effects and symptoms. Implementation is generally the same as the MEDICC methodology, with the main difference being how reps approach recommending products.

5. Target Account Selling

Like other methodologies on this list, target account selling is largely based on gathering information beforehand during the lead qualification phase. That said, this specific framework can be highly research-heavy, which usually leads to companies using sales or marketing automation software to lessen the workload on their employees.

In short, target account selling focuses on quality over quantity, specifically when pre-qualifying leads before reaching out.

6. Command Of The Sale

A sales representative has to be commanding if they attempt this sales methodology. This approach is staunchly customer-centric and focuses on tailoring a solution to a prospect rather than listing the benefits of a product or service. This framework can be challenging since sales reps will need extensive product knowledge and unmatched situational awareness.

7. Gap Selling

Gap selling is all about identifying the gap in a client’s current business structure and where they could be. Like many other methodologies on this list, gap selling focuses more on developing a deep and fundamental understanding of a prospect’s issues before pitching.

This happens by making an initial connection with someone in the company. Through this connection, a sales rep can build a profile of the organization’s needs and wants.

However, the discovery process doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve uncovered the inner workings of your prospect, you can start to connect the dots and figure out the underlying causes for some of their recurring issues.

8. SNAP Selling

The SNAP selling methodology establishes personal connections with buyers and levels the playing field. This allows for quicker, more efficient pitches to busy clients, which results in more sales overall.

The SNAP acronym stands for:

  • S – Keep it simple
  • N – Be i(N)valuable
  • A – Always align
  • P – Priorities

The resulting sales cycle is simple (and therefore easily palatable for most clients); invaluable; and aligned with their pain points, goals, and priorities in the organization.

Sales Methodology Examples

1. Challenger Sales Methodology

The Challenger sales methodology focuses on taking control of a sale and teaching a prospect how to solve their problem. This is in direct conflict with other schools of thought that focus on creating personal connections with clients. So, how does a Challenger operate within the context of a sale?

As the name suggests, they challenge by combining a deep understanding of the customer’s business with an out-of-the-box solution, essentially pushing clients out of their comfort zone. This can result in some tension and debate, but that’s the whole point of taking on the Challenger demeanor.

During this debate, a sales rep can essentially teach a prospect about a better solution than what they had in mind, which works because of the increasingly complex needs of organizations.

2. Inbound Sales Methodology

Inbound sales methodologies place personal connections and empathy as the driving forces behind a client’s choice to purchase. This framework splits a customer’s journey into three distinct phases.

Here’s how each stage plays out, plus what salespeople should be doing to help them along:

Awareness

During the awareness phase, sales reps start to understand what the client is struggling with. This includes their feelings about it, how it affects them in day-to-day life, and what they’d like to do to solve this issue.

An important thing to note is that the buyer persona plays a significant role in this phase, so prior research needs to be done before reaching out.

Consideration

The second phase of the customer journey is when they’re almost ready to purchase but are still considering different options. A prospect may be weighing out the pros and cons of specific solutions while making comparisons. During this phase, sales reps must show clients why their product is better than the competition.

Decision

At this phase, a customer is ready to make a purchase. If they’ve decided to use your product or service, you’ve succeeded in creating a connection and showing them how valuable your company or solution is.

3. Sandler Sales Methodology

The Sandler Sales Methodology, or Sandler Selling System, is another framework that focuses on qualification rather than closing. That means your team will act less like in-your-face salespeople and more like consultants, encouraging potential customers to be more open to transacting.

How does the Sandler Sales Methodology work? Here are the seven steps to success:

  1. Bonding and rapport building: The first step is to establish an open and communicative bond with your prospective client. This breaks the ice and sets the tone for the sale.
  2. Up-front contracts: Next, sales reps will have to establish ground rules, establish roles, and create a comfortable environment for the transaction.
  3. Pain: Once the initial qualification phase has concluded, your workforce needs to discover the prospective client’s pain points. This includes how they’ve tried to solve the problem in the past, how it’s currently affecting them, and what they’re willing to do to fix it.
  4. Budget: Front-loading all sales talk with a budget saves time and energy for all parties involved. If it turns out your product is too expensive for the client, then it’s best to establish that early and move on.
  5. Decision: Once your buyer is set on making a decision, you’ll want to find out everything you can, from who will make the decision to how long it will take.
  6. Fulfillment: This is when a salesperson proposes their product or solution to the buyer. All the information gathered until this point will inform the pitch, making the overall case more compelling.
  7. Post-sell: This is necessary for mitigating buyer’s remorse and solidifying the feeling of satisfaction among your clients. Even a short course on implementing your product could be enough for after-sales support.

Final Thoughts On Sales Methodologies

Methodologies are the backbone of sophisticated sales operations, but proper implementation can be challenging. Your organization will have to break down its current functions and processes as well as apply different facets of various methodologies as needed. The upside is that there are plenty of examples of properly used frameworks, which removes a bit of the guesswork from the equation.

Regardless of how the methodologies fit into your business, it’s essential to stay up to date with business trends and best practices. Keep reading our blog to stay informed!

Sales Methodologies FAQs

Do I need a sales methodology?

No, but you’d greatly benefit from having one. There are no hard and fast rules to business and sales, but having a sales methodology can lead to more revenue and better structure in your organization.

What is the difference between a sales methodology and a sales process?

Sales processes are specific tasks, while a sales methodology refers to the broader systems in place.

What is the SPIN sales methodology?

SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff, which describes the process of identifying a customer’s needs and offering your product to fulfill them.

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