Whether you’re new to sales and sales enablement, or you’re a seasoned veteran - sales methodologies will play a big role in dictating how your sales reps actually go about selling to prospective customers.
With economic uncertainty growing, ensuring that your sales teams are as effective and consistent as possible throughout the sales cycle needs to be a priority. Your chosen methodology can be a key part of this process.
In this article, we look at:
Let’s dive in.
What is a sales methodology?
To best explain what a sales methodology is, let’s first imagine a sales organization that isn’t training their reps to use a specific methodology.
In this scenario, every interaction between a prospect and sales rep will be different. There’ll be inconsistencies in the questions being asked, different terminology used in your CRM, and more.
In short - without a sales methodology, your selling process will be disorganized.
From call to call, from rep to rep, and as a sales team overall.
A sales methodology changes this. It provides a structured, repeatable framework that everyone in your sales team can follow during every interaction with a prospect.
It’s essentially a step-by-step guide which allows your sales team to understand how to prepare for a call, what types of questions to ask, when to ask them, and to whom (decision makers are key here).
The ultimate goal of a sales methodology is to create a successful, replicable framework that enables sales reps to bring a prospect from the top of the funnel, through the qualification and discovery phases, to the bottom of the funnel as closed deals.
Why is a sales methodology useful?
Once your sales reps have a solid understanding of your chosen sales methodology and why they should use it, they’ll find themselves more confident and consistent.
Why does a sales methodology imbue confidence? Because the sales rep doesn’t feel like they’ve been told to go and sell all on their own.
Providing a framework to follow offers structure and guidance. They can ask their peers (who will be selling in the same way) or their managers for assistance. They have the framework to fall back on.
All of these factors result in reps who are more confident in their own ability to sell.
How does a sales methodology provide consistency? It’s because your sales reps will be working as a team, rather than as a group of individuals.
Prospective customers are all being sold to in the same way, the sales stages in your CRM will be filled out similarly across the team, and most importantly, you have a repeatable structure in place.
There’s another factor to consider too. If all your reps are selling in the same way, you’ll be able to compare their performance far more effectively as the methodology framework establishes a baseline set of expectations for your reps.
With a sales methodology, you can more easily assess which reps are performing at which parts of the sales cycle.
What does that mean?
There’s more scope for effective sales coaching and training, so that you can help upskill your reps into their best selves.
Consultative selling (as well as conceptual selling) are more modern, effective ways of selling and many popular sales methodologies will abide by this concept.
With a consultative selling approach, a sales rep doesn’t try the old-school, in-your-face, immediate sell. Nowadays, that style often puts prospects off, as they don’t want to rush deals, especially high-value, complex B2B sales.
Instead, with a consultative approach, the sales rep acts as an advisor to the prospect. Through a series of discovery questions, the rep uncovers the prospect’s pain points and priorities and advises them on whether your organization’s product or service is the right fit for them.
The simple way of thinking about it is this:
Old-school selling is about putting your product or service in front of the prospect no matter what.
Consultative selling is about advising the prospect and solving the problems they’re having in their business, with your offerings as a potential solution - if it’s right.
Commonly used methodologies
Below, you’ll find links to SEC’s series examining some of the more popular sales models and methodologies in closer detail.
It’s important to research your options wisely before adopting a methodology for your sales team to use. Different methods can suit different organizations for better or worse, so make sure you know what you’re adopting.
Sandler selling system
The Sandler selling system was devised in 1967 by David Sandler, and its primary aim was to encourage sales professionals to adopt the aforementioned consultative selling approach.
The system includes seven steps, known as the ‘Sandler submarine’ stages, which should be conducted sequentially. These are:
- Establishing bonding and rapport through honest communication.
- Setting expectations through an up-front contract.
- Identifying the prospect’s pain points.
- Discovering the prospect’s budget.
- Learning about the decision-making process in the prospect’s organization.
- Proposing a solution that fulfills the prospect’s requirements.
- Establishing next steps for supporting the new customer after the sale.
By pairing the submarine stages with the Sandler ‘pain funnel’, your reps will be able to gain deep insights into a prospect’s pain points and overall situation.
Miller Heiman sales methodology
The Miller Heiman Strategic Selling methodology is one of the most well-known names when it comes to sales methodologies.
It was created by Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman of the Miller Heiman group and its main aim is to guide sellers during large, complicated B2B deals.
It consists of three main steps:
- Categorizing, where you examine the people involved in the client’s buying process and analyze their influence on the purchasing decision.
- Determining, where you decide which of the involved people are most likely to support or push back against the decision to purchase your product or service.
- Influencing, where you work on maintaining relationships with the people who champion your product or service, while working on improving your relationship with those who are more skeptical.
Challenger sales methodology
Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson’s Challenger selling model focuses on encouraging and training your reps to emulate the behavior of high-performing “challengers”.
This differs from other methodologies, which key in on how to develop your relationship with prospects in the best way.
The Challenger sales model describes five types of sales reps: The hard worker, the relationship builder, the lone wolf, the problem solver, and the challenger.
Of these five, the challenger is the most effective as these reps are capable of controlling the conversation and helping push the prospect out of their comfort zone to explore new ideas and perspectives.
Challenger selling has five main phases, which are:
- The warm-up, where you investigate the prospect’s pain points.
- The reframe, where you reveal the pain point is actually a growth opportunity.
- Rational drowning and emotional impact, where you highlight the risks of not adopting a new solution through data and case studies.
- A new way, where the rep educates the prospect on life with this new solution, now that the prospect is ready to make the switch.
- Your solution, where the rep tells the prospect that the solution just described already exists, in the form of your product or service.
It can be daunting to try and turn non-challengers into Challenger-style reps, but if you do you might just reap the rewards - there’s a reason this methodology is increasing in popularity.
MEDDIC sales methodology
The MEDDIC (now often called MEDDICC or MEDDPICC) sales methodology is all about lead qualification.
Each letter in the acronym is a line of questioning that your sales reps should go down during a discovery call in order to truly understand the lead’s potential.
Summed up quickly, the letters of the full MEDDPICC acronym stand for:
- Metrics: what are the costs and numbers involved?
- Economic buyer: who’s responsible for purchasing?
- Decision criteria: is there anything that’ll affect the decision?
- Decision process: what steps does the lead’s organization take before buying?
- Paper process: what’s the paperwork timeline for the deal?
- Identifying pain: what is the lead struggling with and how can you help?
- Champion: who will sell your product internally?
- Competition: do you know your competitors and how you stack up?
Reading that, it’s clear to see why MEDDIC and its associated acronyms are so commonly used. They act as a simple, direct guide to keep sales reps old and new on track during their calls.
SPIN sales methodology
The SPIN selling methodology is all about asking four distinct types of questions. Like MEDDIC, SPIN is an easy-to-remember acronym that acts as a guiding light for your sales reps on their calls.
From Neil Rackham’s 1988 SPIN Selling bestseller, the methodology is geared towards guiding sellers from discovery all the way to close - by giving them the right types of questions to ask.
The question categories are:
- Situation questions aimed at helping reps understand the prospect’s current situation
- Problem questions aimed at discovering a prospect’s pain points
- Implication questions aimed at making a prospect realize the damage the unsolved problems are causing
- Need-payoff questions aimed at helping the prospect see the advantages of solving the problem (with your product or service)
These question categories mostly line up with the SPIN selling stages, which are as follows:
- Opening with your situation questions and building rapport
- Investigating with your problem questions and empathizing with the prospect’s pain with your implication questions
- Demonstrating capability through your need-payoff questions, showcasing the benefits of your product or service
- Obtaining commitment and finalizing details in order to make sure the deal actually goes through.
This is a popular method for many reasons, not least the fact that it consists of two easily-remembered parts - the questions and the stages.
Overall, sales methodologies form a crucial part of any sales team’s processes. The framework for consistency that they provide is an easy way to ensure that all of your reps are on the same page with how they sell.
If you put your sales methodology of choice at the heart of your new hire onboarding and continuous development programs, the adoption of the methodology’s terminology and behaviors should come naturally!
There are far more sales methodologies than just the ones we listed, so make sure to ask around and do your research in order to understand which is the best fit for elevating your sales team’s performance.
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