COO & Co-Founder, DemandFarm
The success of sales is intrinsic to the long-term health of any organization. One way to establish a roadmap for the sales team is to select and follow the right sales methodologies. Serving as a foundation for sales guidelines, they help sales reps understand their roles and perform well as a team. There is no one-plan-that-fits-all and the methodology you select must align with your organization’s mission, targets and needs. Let’s look at the seven most common sales methodologies, their essential elements and scenarios where they can be used.
MEDDIC is a B2B sales methodology that was developed by Jack Napoli and Dick Dunkel in the 1990s. What distinguishes MEDDIC from other sales methodologies is its emphasis on better customer qualification and implying that you are likely to get higher closing rate and increased sales success by pitching to better-qualified customers.
Let’s briefly look at the six elements of MEDDIC:
- Metrics: The process begins with understanding customer motivation and goals that are measurable. By getting a grasp of the KPIs important to your client, you can pitch your solution as the right fit.
- Economic Buyer: This is the person in charge of the financial decisions and make or break the deal. Information about the goals, KPIs and purchase criteria of the economic buyer is crucial information to close the deal and the sales team must strive to gain it.
- Decision Criteria: By understanding the criteria that impact’s your prospect’s decision, you can create a more persuasive pitch to get ahead of competition. Some factors that could impact this element are cost, ease of implementation, compatibility with existing systems and return on investment.
- Decision Process: After understanding the factors that influence the decision criteria, you must figure out the steps to make the actual buying decision. It’s crucial to understand who the decision maker is, if there are any approval procedures and time frame for the prospect to arrive at the purchase decision.
- Identify Pain: To offer a viable solution to customers, first understand what their pain points are and how you can improve their situation. By specifically serving their needs and easing their pain, you have a better chance of winning over customers.
- Champion: It’s crucial to discover a champion who will recognize the value of your solution and support your case. This person should be an influential person on the customer’s side who can swing the sale in your favor.
When to use MEDDIC?
The MEDDIC methodology provides a simple yet effective checklist for your sales team. It lays stress on attaining knowledge in place of using sales gimmicks or tricks and can be implemented by any sales rep. This methodology can be particularly useful in cracking complex B2B deals that require more resources and take longer to materialize. By following this framework, your sales team can focus on qualified leads that are likely to convert, thereby saving your time and resources and improving your ROI.
2. SPIN Selling
Based on Neil Rackham’s book released in 1988, SPIN Selling gives salespeople a solid research-backed framework to strategize extended sales processes and close complex deals. The foundation of the SPIN sales methodology is four types of questions that give SPIN its name. Each type of question is asked at a different stage of the sales process and fulfills a crucial function. Let’s look at what these four types of questions entail:
- Situation questions: They start the selling process and as the name suggests, they help you understand the customer’s situation. Based on the answers to these questions, salespeople can get an idea about the customer and where the conversation is heading and tweak the rest of the questions.
- Problem questions: They are part of the discovery phase of the sales process and uncover the client’s problems and illustrate how your product can offer the best solutions. The purpose of these questions is to unearth opportunities by anticipating obstacles they the client may not have even imagined.
- Implication questions: There could be instances where the client may look at the hurdles identified by your questions as minor problems that don’t necessarily need attention. That’s why implication questions are important to help the client understand the wider implications of these problems and why they need to be solved.
- Need-Payoff questions: They make buyers see the benefits of solving the problem and the payoff for taking prompt action. At the same time, the quality of these questions depends on how the earlier questions established the problem/solution relationship between your customer and your product.
When to use SPIN Selling?
SPIN Selling takes on a whole new dimension in the realm of Key Account Management where it enables sales teams to drive revenue through time-tested methodologies. Nowadays, many big enterprises have their own data tools that provide answers to their own questions. In this case, SPIN Selling needs to be linked with technology to hold relevance.
3. SNAP Selling
SNAP selling was developed by reputed sales strategist Jill Konrath and it’s built around serving prospects who are highly distracted and anxious and suffering from what is known as “frazzled customer syndrome”. This sales methodology guides your sales reps to bring value to these frazzled and overwhelmed buyers and is based on four rules:
- Keep it Simple: Stressed and frazzled prospects find it difficult to manage their priorities and often feel overwhelmed. Your sales pitch must be tailored to suit their exact needs and your solution must simplify matters for them.
- Be Invaluable: At this stage, sales reps must turn into trusted and invaluable resources for their prospects. Your sales pitch must convey to them the value of your product or service in addressing their pain points.
- Always align: Alignment is at the core of any sales process and matches your efforts with the prospect’s needs. Your sales team must know the buyer’s goals in order to align your sales pitch with them.
- Raise Priorities: Frazzled buyers are often juggling multiple tasks and find it tough to prioritize them. You can earn their trust and respect by helping them organize their goals and aligning your products or services with their priorities.
When to use SNAP Selling
SNAP selling is useful for sales reps dealing with distracted and overwhelmed buyers. As they demand for time, attention and help, this methodology helps you understand, convince and finally win over these customers. SNAP selling can specifically work if you are selling complex solutions in the B2B space, as it allows you to explain your unique proposition and convince your prospect to consider and adopt your offering.
4. The Challenger Sale
It is a seminal sales practice compiled in the book ‘The Challenger Sale’ by Brent Adamson and Mathew Dixon. This methodology encourages sales reps to emulate the behavior and habits of high-performing “challengers” by aiming to be problem solvers. Unlike other sales models, the Challenger Sale is not focused on cultivating relations with potential customers. It encourages your sales team to take charge of the sale and guide their prospects to solutions.
Based on the research into the behavior and attitude of sales reps, the authors have divided them into five main categories:
- The hard worker: As the name suggests, this sales rep is self-motivated, eager to learn and help and believes in going the extra mile. He is known for tenacity and is not likely to give up on a deal easily.
- The relationship builder: This kind of salesperson is focused on nurturing a relationship with the prospect and establishing an emotional connect. He will go out of their way to help and forge strong bonds with the lead.
- The lone wolf: This sales rep likes flying solo and is self-driven during the sales process. Highly independent, he prefers following his own instincts than function as part of a team.
- The problem solver: Such a salesperson is motivated by taking on challenges and finding solutions. He closely observes the customer’s pain points to find the right fix.
- The challenger: He looks at problems differently and offers unique solutions to prospects. Such sales reps have an in-depth understanding of the lead’s business and are up for any kind of discussions or challenges. They take control of the conversation, disrupt the client’s thinking convince them to try something new.
When to use The Challenger Sale
The Challenger Sale is a highly collaborative approach that leads to customer confidence and less skepticism. With this approach, sales reps come across as innovators who are invested in finding path-breaking solutions. This approach works in several B2B deals, as challenger reps are perceived as thought leaders that help prospects grow and evolve.
5. The Sandler Selling System
Developed in 1967 by David Sandler, the Sandler Selling System is focused on grooming sales reps as consultants and advisors instead of pushy salespeople. The strategy involves building trust between prospects and sales reps with the latter asking the right questions during the qualifying process. The Sandler Selling System follows seven stages or steps:
- Bonding and rapport building: The first step is to forge a strong bond with your prospect by encouraging honesty and open communication.
- Up-front contracts: This stage involves setting roles, establishing clear expectations and creating a comfortable environment to conduct business.
- Pain: This third step begins the qualification phase where open communication with the prospect will lead you to understand their pain points and how your product can act as a solution.
- Budget: The Sandler Selling System emphasizes on the need to discuss the budget early on to find out if the prospect can afford your product or not.
- Decision: The qualification phase ends with the decision-making process and involves finding out how, where and why the prospect wants to buy your product or service.
- Fulfillment: At this stage, you will focus on fulfilling your prospects requests about the budget and other aspects leading to the closing of the deal.
- Post-sell: The final stage involves extending support to the prospect and cross-selling or upselling other products that they might find useful.
When to use Sandler Sales Method
With a long qualification process, this method may result in fewer sales closing but it certainly helps you pick the right customers and create a loyal customer base. High-pressure tactics and pushy strategies find no place in this methodology that instead focuses on always consulting and building relationships. However, this method requires your sales reps to have in-depth knowledge about the industry, understand issues and be aware of potential solutions.
6. Conceptual Selling
Concept selling is based on the premise that customers find the concept of a solution more attractive than the solution itself. Formulated by Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman, this sales methodology is particularly effective in securing intricate and high-value deals in enterprise sales. It teaches sales reps to focus on understanding the buyer and position their product or service in a way that they find appealing.
Let’s give you a snapshot of the key elements of conceptual selling:
- Focus on the concept: Conceptual selling is built on the hypothesis that the prospect buy for the solution and not necessarily the product or service. It’s imperative to get a firm grasp of the prospect’s issues and then decide how your concept will resolve these problems.
- Offer personalized sales demos: To sell a concept, you must first demonstrate how it will work and help the prospect. In this kind of selling, personalized demos are crucial for the prospect to understand the unique features of your offering.
- Build a win-win scenario: With conceptual selling, you must create a scenario that helps both you and the customer align their needs. This will allow both parties to win and accomplish their objectives.
- A generic pitch won’t work: Your sales team must understand that every customer is different with diverse needs and issues. A one-size-fits-all pitch is unlikely to work and it must be tailored to fit the solutions that are likely to get accepted by the prospect.
When to use Conceptual Selling
While this methodology is not likely to work in every sales process, it’s suitable for certain scenarios. If you are offering sales-based solutions, conceptual selling is apt as it’s easier to sell the concept to prospects than abstract features or benefits. Even in the case of subscription models or continuous buying cycles, this methodology is a good choice because it focuses on nurturing a long-term relationship with the customer.
7. Solution Selling
Solution selling is a sales methodology that is based on the idea that salespeople will understand the needs of their prospects and recommend products or services that can best accommodate their needs or solve their problems. Instead of promoting a type of product or service, this methodology promotes the idea of researching and diagnosing the prospect’s needs and customizing the solution to align with their journey.
Let’s look at the six steps that make up the solution-selling sales journey:
- Prospect: If you have a product or service to sell, you must find a prospect with a problem that your product is able to resolve. You must fully understand your product in order to offer it as the right fit to your prospect.
- Qualify: There is no point pitching your product to everyone, so focus on leads that are most likely to convert. Once you find the leads best suited for your solutions, you must identify the decision-making unit to take the deal ahead.
- Discover: Every client has different needs and it’s important that you discover them before proposing your solutions. Look closely at your buyer persona and then focus on specific areas where your product will work.
- Add value: By asking specific questions, help the customer understand the specific value of your product. At this stage, seek access to key decision-makers who can champion your cause.
- Present: It’s time to pitch your product or service that’s been customized to suit the buyer’s requirements. To improve your chances, also demonstrate its specific benefits and return on investment.
- Close: At this final stage, you must overcome any sales objections that the prospect may have and come to an agreement that’s mutually beneficial to both parties.
When to use Solution Selling
Solution selling can be an effective methodology for any prospect, but it’s most effective when you’re dealing with customers who need unique solutions and/or support. The salesperson must have a variety of products or packages to offer and should be able to customize them to suit the specific needs of the prospect.
Get Set for Win Large Deals with the Right Sales Methodologies
Each sales methodology is designed to help and empower sales reps and develop effective approaches to resolve common customer issues and achieve maximum conversions. Your organization may use one methodology or a combination of two or more for best results. For these guidelines to actually work, they must be adopted across the sales team with the right training for reps and team leaders. The right sales methodologies can set your sales team on the path to success and growth.