A sales methodology puts structure around the process a salesperson uses to do their job. It’s a set of rules for how to approach customers and sell products or services to them. The methodology needs to be defined before anything else – including the actual sales process – to avoid each salesperson working the process differently.
Selecting the right sales methodology is important, as it needs to be tailored to your customers and your market.
You may already have come across some or many trademarked methodologies like The Challenger Sale, SNAP Selling, SPIN Selling, Conceptual Selling, Consultative Selling and Strategic Selling… the list is endless, but it’s important to choose the right approach for your business.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SALES METHODOLOGY AND A SALES PROCESS
Whilst a sales process is essentially the steps a salesperson uses to take a prospect on the journey to a sale, a sales methodology is a framework that defines how a business approaches each of those stages to win the deal.
FEATURES OF A SALES METHODOLOGY
There are dozens of sales methodologies in the market, each claiming to create and manage opportunities, and assist with relationship management. So how do you know which one will best suit your business and sales approach? Here are some sales methodology features to consider:
The assumption - Each sales methodology begins with an overarching theory or assumption that puts reason behind the methodology format. An example of this is The Challenger Sale methodology which assumes that sales professionals are broken down into five “classes”, and those who fall into the challenger-type category are the most successful sales group – especially in B2B sales. Challenger then introduces the “teach-tailor-take” tactic as the sales methodology.
The acronym - You’ll find that many of the methodologies are named with easy to remember acronyms like NEAT Selling, SPIN Selling, MEDDIC and SNAP Selling. For example, SPIN is an acronym for the four types of questions a salesperson should ask their client: Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff. The use of an acronym makes the steps within the methodology easy to remember and, in theory, simple to follow.
Psychology - Some of the trademarked sales methodologies are enacted with the use of simple psychology. Miller Heiman’s Conceptual Selling is a great example of this. Using the power of persuasion as its basis, the desired outcome is for the buyer to purchase a concept, not a product. This is achieved through empathy, active listening, and asking questions in a bid to reveal the buyer’s ideal end-state. The conceptual seller can tie their solution to the end goal.
Focus on the customer - Another common thread is customer centricity. Essentially these sales methodologies focus on securing a customer through building a trusting relationship with them. You can see these in action in the Consultative Selling, NEAT Selling and Customer-Centric Selling methodologies.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SALES METHODOLOGY
Your sales methodology should match your product, customer, and market. Any mismatch will feel unnatural to both the sales rep and the customer.
Regardless of all the branded and trademarked sales methodologies on offer, in B2B sales is really only governed by give methodologies.
DIY Self Service: an end-to-end online experience where clients research themselves and complete the purchase online.
Transactional selling: helping customers buy the solution they have decided to buy based on their own research, often online. These customers often are ready to buy.
Solution selling: customers understand they have a problem and seek a salesperson to solve specific issues with products and services. These customers are also generally ready to buy in days to weeks.
Consultative selling: the customer does not fully understand the problem. Sales need to diagnose the customer’s situation to determine the right solution. This process can take 6-18 months.
Provocative selling: sales experts can identify clients who have a problem or will face into a problem that they are not aware of. The sales expert provokes the client into action. This B2B sales methodology can take 6 to 9 months.
Too many people choose a sales methodology based on what sounds new, convincing, or flashy. That’s the wrong way to go about it.
Choose a sales methodology that is too simple for your solution, and you lose deals when your customer expects a little more help through their shopping process.
Choose a methodology that’s too complex, and you increase the cost of acquisition, spending too much on lower-value customers. Say goodbye to profits!
It can be tricky to strike the balance between too simple or too complex, but you can start by taking note of your average deal size, sales cycle, and number of deals per rep each month.
Calculate your average cost of acquiring a customer and choose a methodology that protects your margins while maintaining healthy close rates.