What is a Sales Methodology: definition, importance, and sales models examples

A sales methodology is a set of principles a sales team should follow to understand how to perform their roles no matter what situations they may face during the sales process.

Each sales organization needs a sales methodology to guide them on how to work together towards the same goal ― winning more customers and closing more deals. It answers the questions “What to do” and “How to do it” within a sales process, which makes it the backbone of successful selling. 

Importance of a sales methodology

Today’s business trends change with the speed of light. A sales methodology allows keeping pace with these changes by providing each sales team with:

  • Necessary tools for analyzing challenges and finding the best solutions.
  • Effective strategies on how to adjust to a new business environment and still achieve top results.
  • A possibility of finding best practices to guide a sales team to success.
  • A common language for sales reps to move together towards the same sales goals. 
  • Constant identification of top performers who can motivate other sales representatives to show better results. 
  • Effective ways of coaching sales reps, which may improve their performance on average by 20%.
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Sales models examples

The best sales methodology is the one that breaks the sales team’s goals into measurable steps. There are several sales methodology models. We will consider five examples you may start implementing in your organization right away:

Challenger sales methodology

The Challenger sales methodology boils down to:

  • Teaching the prospect
  • Tailoring the sales process to their needs, and 
  • Taking control of the conversation with them. 

Used by 40% of high-performing salespeople, this approach is not complicated for learning, provided a sales rep gets the right training.

Challenger selling behaviors
Challenger selling behaviors (Source: Gartner)

What businesses can use it: The Challenger sales methodology better suits companies that have enough experience in selling, not startups. To implement it, your sales team should have an incredible amount of domain knowledge and some support from marketers who will explain how the market works.

Inbound sales methodology

Being tightly connected with marketing strategies, the inbound sales methodology presupposes attracting customers with highly personalized messages that motivate them to engage with the seller’s company. Instead of direct pitching, inbound sellers analyze the prospects’ buyer persona and slightly lead them to the purchase.

This methodology consists of four steps:

  1. Identify: The sales rep identifies potential leads to start a deal with.
  2. Connect: The sales professional connects with prospects with a personalized message, which they prepare based on the information they’ve got about these prospects (their social media accounts, blog, and so on). 
  3. Explore:  The sales rep explores potential customers by asking about their goals and challenges to understand whether a sales offer is a good fit for them. 
  4. Advise: The salesperson helps potential buyers understand why a sales solution may be valuable for them and advises them to try it. 
Inbound sales methodology
Inbound sales methodology (Source: DMD)

What businesses can use it: This methodology is a good fit for sales organizations that have a good deal of inbound marketing resources to find prospects and are experienced in contacting decision-makers. For startups, using it wouldn’t be a wise solution. 

Sandler sales methodology

The Sandler sales methodology represents a low-pressure, consultative approach that puts a salesperson in the position of an adviser who is in control of the process.

The methodology presupposes seven stages:

  1. Bonding and rapport: The sales rep communicates with the prospect to build a relationship.
  2. Up-front contracts: After a successful communication with the prospect, the sales professional creates a roadmap of all further conversations.
  3. Pain: This is where lead qualification starts. The salesperson asks a lot of critical questions to identify the prospect’s pain points.
  4. Budget: The salesperson asks the prospect about a definite budget. If it fits the sales offer, the deal moves ahead.
  5. Decision: This is the last point of lead qualification. The sales rep looks through every conversation from top to bottom and cross-checks if the offered solution is suitable for the prospect.
  6. Fulfillment: At this stage, sales closing starts. The sales representative makes sure that every decision-maker is satisfied with the solution. Once the approval comes, both parties are ready to sign the contract.
  7. Post-sell: This is the final stage. The sales professional continues to provide support and help to the customer to ensure they have chosen the right product/service.

Due to the non-visible and low-pressure approach, the Sandler sales method is often illustrated as a seven-step submarine.

Sandler sales method
Sandler sales method (Source: Sandler)

However, with this methodology, salespeople have certain concerns, such as budget and time, which they need to solve proactively so that they won’t spend lots of resources on a prospect if the latter appears not to fit the ideal customer profile

What businesses can use it: This methodology is versatile as it can help solve most selling situations. This is why sales organizations often use it no matter how experienced they are. 

SNAP selling

This methodology is based on four principles a salesperson sticks to:

  • Keep it Simple: The sales rep is to make a proposal that is simple to understand and adopt.
  • Be iNvaluable:  The salesperson must be an expert who can solve all issues the prospect has at the moment. Potential customers should rely on the authoritative opinion.
  • Align: The sales rep should get prospects to purchase by linking the offer with their objectives, challenges, and needs.
  • Raise Priorities: The sales representative should concentrate on what prospects are focused on.
SNAP selling
SNAP selling (Source: Salesmate)

What businesses this methodology suits: It fits companies that sell inside a big competitive market and deal with transactional B2B selling. That’s because the SNAP sales model allows them to operate quickly, precisely, and efficiently, so they stand out from their competitors.

N.E.A.T selling

Designed as a sales methodology for SaaS, this new approach is a blending of BANT and ANUM methodologies. 

  • BANT is based on a prospect’s Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe. 
  • ANUM is based on a prospect’s Authority, Need, Urgency, and Money. 

N.E.A.T selling boils down to:

  • Need: The sales rep should determine the prospect’s needs by identifying their main challenges.
  • Economic Impact: The sales representative should explain the economic benefit and perks the prospect will get from purchasing the solution.
  • Access to Authority: The sales professional should engage prospects who can influence decision-makers when it’s not possible to contact them directly.
  • Timeline: The sales rep needs to set a timeline within which the prospect is to make a final decision of buying the product or service. 
N.E.A.T selling
N.E.A.T selling (Source: Lucidchart)

What businesses can use it: This methodology best fits fast-moving SaaS B2B companies with indefinite sales cycles

How to implement a sales methodology

No matter which sales methodology you’ll use, the first thing you should do is to articulate your needs and goals. Next, you are to study the options of each methodology ― e.g., of those mentioned above ― and choose the one suitable for your type of sales. 

Once you have selected the sales methodology:

  1. Create and make records of the tactics it involves. 
  2. Conduct sales methodology training for your team.
  3. Incorporate sales methodology training into the onboarding process for newly hired sales representatives.
  4. Continue periodic training for your salespeople to ensure a chosen methodology works and is used correctly.
  5. Be ready to implement another sales methodology if your sales process undergoes any changes with time. 

Wrapping up

All sales organizations need to be guided on how to improve their sales capabilities and achieve the set goals. A sales methodology represents such guidelines, so choosing the right approach for your sales ambitions should be one of your top priorities. 

And if you are a sales leader, be ready to take the responsibility for incorporating a working sales methodology into your company’s selling process and communicating it to the sales team.

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