The 15 Best Sales Methodologies to Drive Growth
William Shakespeare is often referred to as the greatest writer who ever lived. That's what happens when you churn out dramatic masterpieces like the rest of us buy shoes.
One of the bard's most famous works is a theatrical play called Hamlet. At one point in the play, a character named Lord Polonius says, "Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.” And that, my friends, is what we're going to talk about today.
It doesn't matter what you sell or who you sell it to. If there's no "method to your madness," AKA a proven plan to help you close deals at a consistent clip, you won't succeed.
So, in this article, we'll take a detailed look at 15 popular sales methodologies.
The goal? To help you decide which one is right for your sales team. Or, more accurately, which elements of each methodology are right. That way, you can combine the ones you like to create a proprietary system that your salespeople can use to close deals faster. Let's go!
Why Your Team Should Adopt a Sales Methodology
The best sales methodologies enable sales organizations to turn goals into actionable steps. Do you want to connect with more decision-makers? Or shorten sales cycles? Or drive more revenue? The right methodology will help you do it on a regular basis.
Now, don't get me wrong. The "perfect" sales methodology doesn't exist. What works for one business might not work for another. The key is to find the most effective sales methods for your specific company, sales team, and target customers. You might have to blend methodologies to make this happen. But the end result will be more than worth the effort.
Once your sales team adopts a customized sales methodology, you'll be able to easily qualify leads, boost close rates, and scale your entire sales process.
15 Sales Methodologies You Can Use to Close More Deals
So, what's your gig? Are you the sales manager at a fancy SaaS startup? The VP of Sales at a well-known enterprise? It doesn't matter. One of the 15 sales methodologies below will help you and your team close more deals, drive more revenue, and achieve more success.
1. Consultative Sales
First up, consultative selling.
This approach to sales was originally designed and pioneered by Mack Hanan in 1970. Since that time, it's been used to earn billions upon billions of dollars.
To succeed with this sales methodology, sales reps need to think of themselves as consultants. Rather than pushing specific products or services at all costs, reps need to ask leads the right questions, then recommend products/services based on their answers.
Ideally, consultative selling will manifest as a partnership between sales professionals and their prospects. The two parties should work together to find a viable solution. This often helps reps build trust, boost their close rates, and capitalize on upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
There are a few drawbacks to consultative sales that you should be aware of. First, it can be a tougher methodology for new reps to use. Also, when implemented correctly, reps may have to walk away from deals that they otherwise would have won to better serve the customer.
2. Solution Selling
Solution selling is the opposite of transactional selling.
Rather than focusing on one-time purchases with short sales cycles, the solution selling methodology encourages reps to really learn about their prospect's needs. That way, they can become true problem solvers and work with potential customers to find viable solutions.
When this happens, reps are able to build long-term relationships with prospects that often result in multiple deals. This makes it an ideal method for B2B sales.
To succeed with solution selling, focus on the benefits your solution provides rather than the solution itself. Then maintain flexibility and offer custom solutions when appropriate. Just know that doing so isn't always easy and may extend your sales cycle.
3. Customer-Centric Selling
Customer-centric selling is exactly what it sounds like: Sellers put potential customers in the middle of the entire sales process, making sure their needs are always met.
To do this, sales reps often take on an advisory role. Instead of pushing specific products or services—or even adhering to strict sales processes—reps modify their approach to suit the specific prospect they're currently talking to.
While this sales methodology is difficult to pull off, it can result in win-win scenarios. Customers feel valued and purchase products/services they truly need. And reps make more sales, because prioritizing customer's needs often leads to multiple transactions.
4. MEDDIC, NEAT, and BANT Qualification Frameworks
These three sales methodologies will help you nail the qualification process.
How do you know which leads are worth talking to? Try using the MEDDIC, NEAT, or BANT approaches. Each framework empowers reps to pinpoint red-hot leads for their sales teams.
The MEDDIC sales methodology is perfect for enterprise organizations—or any organization, really—that sells complex products and/or services.
The MEDDIC acronym stands for Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, and Champion. Each letter represents a different stage in the qualification process. It was developed by Parametric Technology Corporation in the 1990s.
To qualify leads with the MEDDIC approach, ask them a series of questions:
- Metrics: What do you want to accomplish?
- Economic buyer: Who has the power to make buying decisions?
- Decision criteria: How does your company evaluate potential purchases?
- Decision process: What internal approval process is required to make a purchase?
- Identify pain: What problem do you want to solve with this product/service?
- Champion: Who will be my champion for this sale?
MEDDIC gives reps a straightforward process they can follow to qualify leads. That doesn't mean it's easy. In fact, this sales methodology takes a lot of work and requires premium organizational skills. But reps will never have to wonder, "What should I do next?"
This qualification methodology teaches reps to ask the same types of questions as mentioned above. The acronym stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline.
- Budget: How much is my prospect willing to spend on this solution?
- Authority: Who is able to pull the trigger and make buying decisions?
- Need: Does my prospect's pain create a true need for the solution(s) I sell?
- Timeline: How long will it realistically take to close a deal with this prospect?
BANT helps reps qualify prospects in a jiff. It's pretty easy to use, but it focuses on the rep's needs more than the prospect's needs, which isn't always ideal.
N.E.A.T selling, sometimes referred to as just NEAT, is another qualification system. The acronym stands for Need, Economic impact, Access to authority, and Timeline.
To qualify leads with the NEAT approach, ask yourself these four questions:
- Need: What is the main thing my prospect needs?
- Economic impact: How does this need affect their bottom line?
- Access to authority: Who leads the decision-making process, and can I reach them?
- Timeline: How long will it realistically take to get this deal done?
NEAT was designed to flip the BANT methodology around. Instead of focusing on what the salesperson needs, NEAT helps reps concentrate on what their prospects need.
5. SPIN Selling
Popularized by Neil Rackham in his book, SPIN Selling, this sales methodology helps sales reps diagnose their prospect's problems and develop viable solutions to solve them.
It's based on another acronym: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff.
(Side note: if you ever develop your own sales methodology and decide to write a book about it, give it a nifty acronym. That seems to be the key to publishing success. Just sayin'...)
To use the SPIN method, ask prospects a series of questions that pertain to each letter in the acronym. Here are a few examples of questions I might ask when pitching Close:
- Situation: How do you currently track your sales pipeline? How do you monitor your reps to make sure they're completing the daily tasks you've assigned them?
- Problem: What's the biggest problem you face right now when attempting to track your sales pipeline? What about when you try to track your sales reps?
- Implication: What will happen if you continue to have these tracking problems? Will leads slip through the cracks? Will your sales reps underperform? Will revenue drop?
- Need-payoff: If you could evaluate the health of your sales pipeline at a glance, would it help you achieve your goals? What if you could easily assess rep performance?
These types of questions, AKA relationship builders, will help you get to know your prospects, identify their pain points, and ultimately, sell more products and/or services.
If you have any doubt as to whether SPIN selling works in real-world scenarios, check out the glowing review from Andrew Cussens, Owner of FilmFolk and dedicated SPIN seller:
"SPIN selling has been my most effective sales strategy… Without it, my business would not have survived the COVID pandemic. Thanks to this strategy, my average conversion rate is now two-three times higher than it was at the start of 2020."
6. Hunter-Farmer Sales Model
The hunter-farmer sales model requires sales leaders to split their sales teams into two distinct groups: hunters and farmers. Hunters work to bring in and convert new leads. Farmers build strong relationships with current customers to cultivate higher-value deals.
Hunters generally spend their days researching their target markets, cold calling and emailing quality prospects, running product demos, and negotiating prices. The farmer's job includes onboarding new customers, running account reviews, teaching customers about new features/products, and looking for upsell opportunities.
If you decide to use the hunter-farmer methodology to boost your selling process, make sure you match reps to the jobs they're best suited to. This will allow each team member to shine.
7. The Challenger Sale
Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson wrote a book called "The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation." It was a hit, and a new sales method was born.
To use the challenger sales methodology, your reps will need to deliver valuable information to prospects—valuable information that challenges their status quo. The idea is to get prospects to think outside the boxes they've built around themselves.
Modern consumers conduct a ton of research before buying. As such, they often know the ins and outs of a product or service before they talk to sales reps.
Challenger sales can work because it enables reps to earn the respect and trust of their target markets via previously unknown details. Unfortunately, this method can also propel reps to become overly aggressive and scare potential sales away. Use it with caution.
8. Inbound Selling
The inbound sales methodology is all about bringing quality prospects to you.
By creating SEO-optimized blog posts, downloadable ebooks and white papers, must-see webinars, and other forms of content, companies can attract potential consumers to them. They can then engage them in sales conversations and attempt to close deals.
One of the best things about inbound sales is that it eliminates the "sleazy salesman" vibe. Prospects engage with companies because they want to, not because they're forced to. This automatically builds trust between companies and the target markets they want to reach.
The downside to inbound sales is all the work that goes into creating content. In most situations, sales has to work closely with marketing to achieve success with this methodology.
Generally speaking, successful companies use inbound and outbound sales strategies.
9. Outbound Sales
Outbound sales is the opposite of inside sales.
Instead of drawing potential customers in with valuable content, sales reps build outreach campaigns to meet their target markets where they already are.
There are a bunch of tactics sales teams can use to implement an outbound sales strategy. Some of the more popular ones include sales calls and cold emails.
Done right, outbound sales can be incredibly effective. Why? Because it allows reps to target specific people, get immediate feedback on their sales strategy, and speed up the sales cycle. Unfortunately, it's a lot more expensive than inbound sales. It can also annoy potential customers who don't want to be contacted, and potentially ruin future sales opportunities.
10. SNAP Selling
Oh look, another acronym!
SNAP selling is a popular sales methodology that was outlined by Jill Konrath in her book, "SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business With Today's Frazzled Customers."
Here's the general idea: Your customers are super busy. They don't want to waste time on long sales cycles. When they talk to sales reps, they want to get to the point ASAP.
SNAP selling helps make this a reality. The acronym stands for Simple, Invaluable, Align, and Priority. Let's take a closer look at each of these core principles:
- Simple: Make the sales process easy by only offering essential information
- Invaluable: Prove your expertise and become a trusted advisor to your prospects
- Align: Ensure you are aligned with your prospects to encourage them to buy from you
- Priority: Understand what your prospect wants to focus on and concentrate on that
If your target market is often underwhelmed, just trying to keep their heads above the water, consider implementing the SNAP selling methodology to see if it helps you close more deals.
11. Target Account Selling (TAS)
Target account selling, sometimes referred to as account-based selling, is a B2B sales strategy that enables sales reps to easily identify quality prospects.
It doesn't matter if you're looking for specific deal values, need to match potential customers to your buyer personas, or something else. The TAS methodology will help you identify prospects who meet your predetermined criteria and deliver a personalized buying process.
This results in way higher close rates than other sales methodologies. Another bonus, sales teams can use the automation tech in their CRM of choice to pinpoint leads on autopilot.
Just know, your team will have to put in more effort upfront to make sure they only talk to potential buyers. And your sales training regimen will need to reflect this.
12. Value Selling
When sales reps use the value selling framework, they focus on the measurable value their prospects will achieve once they purchase the rep's products/services.
Would you rather buy something that will "save your company money," or something that will "save your company $10,000 a year?" That's the power of value selling. It helps prospects put a dollar value to their problems, which makes the proposed solutions much more appealing.
Value selling is especially popular in SaaS sales but can work in other industries, too. Those that use it just have to make sure their lead qualification game is up to snuff.
13. Insight Selling
Insight selling is another sales methodology you can use.
To succeed with this strategy, your reps must view themselves as educators, simplifying the vast amount of information that prospects find online into digestible pieces. When this happens, prospects are empowered to make buying decisions with confidence.
Where do these insights come from, you ask? Mostly from the hundreds, if not thousands of sales conversations that your reps have had in the past. Because of this, insight selling may be best for experienced sales teams, who know their industries inside and out.
If you manage a team of hard workers who truly understand the potential problems their ideal customers face—and can communicate solutions in simple terms—insight selling might work.
14. Sandler Selling System
Back in 1967, a man named David Sandler developed the Sandler Sales Methodology. Guess what—the system still works all these years later.
Like many of the other methodologies we've looked at today, the goal of the Sandler Selling approach is to meet the customer's needs, not make sales at any cost.
More than that, reps that use this method are asked to qualify prospects appropriately, then build legitimate relationships with them that naturally lead to sales.
To implement the Sandler system, guide prospects through a seven-step process:
- Build rapport
- Establish roles
- Understand needs
- Figure out the budget
- Learn the buying process
- Propose a potential solution
- Seal the deal
If your reps successfully guide prospects through these seven steps, they'll improve their sales performance and earn bigger commission checks from all the extra sales they make.
15. Conceptual Selling
Last, but certainly not least, there's the conceptual selling method.
This sales methodology was designed by Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman and explained in their books "Conceptual Selling" and "The New Conceptual Selling," respectively.
Here's the big idea: Customers don't buy products and services—they buy solutions. The sales rep's job is to help prospects conceptualize their product/service as a legit solution to whatever problem they're currently facing. Do that, and sales will start rolling in.
To make this happen, reps need to ask different types of questions:
- Confirmation questions, to ensure they understand the current information
- New information questions, to learn what their prospects think of their product/service
- Attitude questions, to learn about prospects on a personal level
- Commitment questions, to understand how invested the prospect is in the project they're working on
- Basic issue questions, to raise potential problems
At the end of the day, conceptual selling requires every sale to be a win-win scenario. Both sellers and prospects should be happy with the process. As such, this sales methodology often leads to high customer satisfaction scores and repeat sales.
How to Build Your Own Sales Methodology
As mentioned earlier, there isn't one "best" sales methodology. They all have their merits.
Instead of settling on one strategy and following it to the letter, I suggest blending them to create a unique selling approach that's customized to your team's specific needs.
These five tips will help you create an exclusive sales process that works like gangbusters!
Know Your Ideal Customer Profile
Do you know who your ideal customers are? You should!
Take time to study your target market. Get to know them better than your family, your friends, your barber—whoever you share your deepest darkest secrets with.
Then synthesize all of the information you collect into a few buyer personas. Doing so will help you connect with quality leads more often, identify their pain points in less time, and close more deals than before. After all, you'll know so much about them from the start.
Clearly Define Your Sales Process
To be clear, a sales methodology and a sales process aren't quite the same thing.
A sales methodology is a philosophy or set of rules that inform a sales team's approach to closing deals. A sales process, on the other hand, is a list of steps that sales reps follow to guide prospects through the buyer’s journey. Both are important.
When implementing your own sales methodology, account for your sales process—or the sales process you want to have. Once your process is defined, you can choose a methodology (or methodologies, in many cases) to complement it.
Combine Your Favorite Sales Methods
Now it's time to combine your favorite sales methodologies into one unique system.
Maybe the NEAT qualification system speaks to you. Maybe you serve a busy target base who would respond well to SNAP principles. And maybe you have the in-house resources to succeed with inbound sales. Mash it all together, and… BOOM!
Pretty cool, right? Just don't forget to train your reps to use the proprietary sales methodology you've just created. It will only work if it's implemented the right way.
Get Feedback from Your Sales Team
Once you've implemented your super awesome, totally customized sales method, ask your team what they think. Do they dig it? Do they think it can be improved?
Take their opinions seriously and adjust your approach to sales until you get it right.
Oh, and don't forget about cold hard data. Feedback and personal anecdotes are important, but you need to make sure the system you land on helps you achieve bonafide success.
The only way you can do this is to evaluate the KPIs and metrics that matter most to your department. Doing so will help you decide if your sales method is a keeper or not.
Aim for Simplicity
Finally, do your best to keep it simple. Combining sales methodologies is all well and good—unless the system you develop is so complicated, your reps can't use it.
Sales is hard enough. Don't make it harder with a complex methodology that you have to have a degree in rocket science to understand and execute.
Create the Right Sales Methodology for Your Team
Your company's sales methodology is important. Fortunately, you don't have to choose a random method and hope for the best. You can combine elements from multiple methods to create a proprietary system that helps your sales team close deals consistently.
You know what else will help you close deals? A quality CRM solution like Close.
Use our platform to organize your leads, supercharge your calling efforts, build automated email campaigns, and otherwise improve your sales process.
Sign up for your free 14-day trial of Close to see if it's the right CRM for your sales team!