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Sales Methodology

Discover what a sales methodology is and how it can help your sales team close more deals.

What is a sales methodology?

  • A sales methodology is essentially a sales process in action.
  • It includes the various methods, tactics and strategies used by a salesperson to keep a prospect moving through the sales process.
  • It connects the sales process to the buyer’s journey by dictating or rather guiding on what needs to be done at different stages of the sales process.

Why is a sales methodology important?

A sales methodology is a key component of the sales process. It has benefits that go beyond just closing more deals — it gives a method to the sales madness.

  • Helps sales teams create a scalable process to guide the buyer.
  • Helps sales teams align on how to approach the customer.
  • Helps sales managers coach teams to qualify and close better.
  • Helps sales teams understand how to close more.

How is a sales methodology different from a sales process?

Quite often, the terms sales methodology and sales process are used interchangeably. And while one can agree that they are pretty intertwined, they are indeed two separate concepts with their own functions and objectives.

Unlike a sales process, which is properly defined and followed, a sales methodology is problem-centric and highly flexible to attune with the ongoing sales interactions. And while the sales process covers the entire sales cycle, a sales methodology focuses on one specific area of the sales process — moving the prospect from maybe to yes!

So, when it comes to sales methodology vs sales process, here are the main differences:

  • A sales methodology is a subset of the sales process and supports it at various stages. 
  • The sales process governs the entire sales cycle, and the sales methodology focuses on a smaller segment of the sales process.
  • The sales process defines the “what” of selling, while the sales methodology defines the “how” of it.
  • Different organizations have different sales processes, however, they may follow the same or similar sales methodology techniques.
  • Sales processes are more or less fixed for everyone to follow, while sales methodologies are dynamic and can be changed depending on the situation.
  • The sales process is a factor of the industry, sales journey and target audience, whereas the sales methodology is a result of substantiated psychological principles, sales philosophies, and field-tested sales strategies conducted and formalized by sales experts.
  • The sales process, on the whole, caters to the organization's long-term growth. The sales methodology addresses an immediate and pressing problem (which will eventually accrue and contribute to the sales process’s objectives).

What are the different sales methodologies?

Challenger Sales: Leading with insights

What is the Challenger sales methodology?

The Challenger sales model is all about approaching customers with unique insights on how to save or make money. Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson from Corporate Executive Board (CEB, now part of Gartner) introduced the concept in their book The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation, in 2011.

Their argument: Customers don’t always know what they want. So, assume that your customer’s single greatest need is figuring out what they need.

How does the Challenger sales model work?

The Challenger sale is all about leading with insight and assuming the customer doesn't know everything. So, rather than asking customers to describe their problems, sales reps should tell them the answer, which we refer to as insight-led sales conversations.

Who can use the Challenger sales model?

Using the Challenger sales model means having enough insight to tell customers what they need. The approach won’t work for small businesses using their sales calls for research and development. This sales model shines in complex B2B sales environments but only with the right investment in one’s people and technology.

MEDDIC selling: Always be qualifying

What is the MEDDIC sales methodology?

Jack Napoli (the godfather of MEDDIC and managing partner at SMG) defines the MEDDIC sales methodology best as “The MEDDIC sales qualification methodology flushes out where the buyer is in the sales process with evidence. It’s a GPS for your sales cycle — where the buyer is really at.”

Who created MEDDIC?

The MEDDIC sales process rose to fame in the 90s. John McMahon, Richard Dunkel (the “biological father of MEDDIC”) and Jack Napoli (the “godfather of MEDDIC”) used it at Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC) and grew their sales from $300 million to $1 billion in four years. That’s how MEDDIC was born — a list of all the best tips from the top sales folks on closing high-value sales deals without being in the “constantly putting out fires” mode.
Since then, it has been one of the go-to qualification methodologies for enterprise sales.

What does MEDDIC stand for?

Let’s deconstruct the acronym and understand what MEDDIC means:
Metrics: The metrics that translate the value your solution will provide in terms of costs, revenue or efficiency
Economic buyer: The decision-maker(s) with authority to approve the purchase of your solution
Decision criteria: The conditions that determine whether the enterprise goes ahead with your solution
Decision process: The steps (from evaluation to contracting) that the enterprise must go through to decide on your solution
Implications of pain: The challenges that directly tie into the business objectives of the enterprise, their impact and how your solution can help
Champion: The person within the enterprise with the right influence, credibility and authority to sell your solution on your behalf

What’s so special about the MEDDIC sales process?

With MEDDIC, you can avoid filling your pipeline with unwinnable deals. Sales reps lose around 67 percent of their deals because they are unable to qualify their leads properly. But with MEDDIC, you’re always qualifying, weeding out the “unwinnables” and keeping your sales pipeline lean and clean.

Who can use the MEDDIC sales process?

Are you a B2B firm selling products that transform how an enterprise operates? Oh, and your offerings come at a higher-than-average sales price? Then you’ve struggled with the dilemmas of wasting time and effort with unwinnable deals, lengthy sales cycles, getting approvals from multiple stakeholders.

This sales qualification methodology will help you:

  • Understand an enterprise’s buying journey
  • Identify the key stakeholders
  • Cultivate a deep relationship with them

Miller Heiman sales: Selling as a partner

What is the Miller Heiman sales methodology?

Introduced in 1985 by consultants Robert Heiman and Stephen Heiman, the Miller Heiman sales method is a proven framework for sales professionals to understand B2B selling and consistently close large accounts.

The Miller Heiman Strategic Selling method promotes the concept of selling as a strategic partnership between the buyer and seller, and the idea of creating a win-win for both parties. Further, the method teaches salespeople to look for "red flags" in a deal, and presents them with a base for controlling big accounts called the "Blue Sheet".

Thus, a sales framework such as Miller Heiman helps teams lay a strong foundation for closing deals, and guiding customers through the different stages of the buying process.

Who can use the Miller Heiman sales methodology?

As any sales person will attest to, enterprise B2B deals are often difficult to crack and can quickly get scattered and disorganized. This is an area where the Miller Heiman sales methodology shines by helping your team create a repeatable, scalable process to engage with enterprise customers and close large sales deals.

Sandler sales: Don’t always be closing

What is the Sandler sales methodology?

The Sandler sales methodology focuses on qualification rather than closing. Designed by David Sandler, the founder of Sandler Training, the Sandler sales method is a highly effective sales strategy that brings customers and products closer to each other.

While ordinary sales strategies prefer selling products to more customers, the Sandler sales methodology matches customers with products before selling them.

This method moves around the word ‘qualification,’ as the sales representative acts as a consultant promoting the virtues of products rather than selling like a traditional salesperson.

Steps of the Sandler sales methodology

Although the Sandler sales method has three stages, it is further broken down into seven steps to make it easy to understand and implement. The three main stages are:

  • Establishing a relationship with the prospect
  • Qualifying the prospect
  • Closing the sales deal

Who can use the Sandler sales methodology?

The Sandler sales method is great for a variety of selling environments as it is a foundational methodology.

SPIN sales: Asking open-ended questions

What is the SPIN sales methodology?

The SPIN sales methodology is a highly effective, research-backed framework focused on building and nurturing long-term relationships.

This sales technique was developed in 1988, when Neil Rackham, psychologist and founder of Huthwaite, reviewed about 35,000 sales calls and found that the best performers did something distinctly different. They utilized open-ended questions and active listening to discover customer frustrations, worries, struggles and desires.

Who can use the SPIN sales methodology?

In SPIN Selling, the goal is not to pitch your product as early in the sales process as possible. Instead, it asks salespersons to first build value as trusted advisors, to ask the right questions and get the conversation going.
As SPIN sales take time, effort and patience, it’s best suited for complex, high-value deals, long sales cycles, and a multi-platform buyer’s experience

How to choose the right sales methodology for your needs?

A sales methodology is a key component of your overall sales process — and indeed your sales success. Therefore, you should consider a few important things while finalizing the right sales methodology for your team. Here’s a checklist for you to use:

How complex is your product or service?

Is it easy to understand, use and promote? Or do you — and your prospect — need to go through many hoops before you both can find a fit? You may accordingly choose a sales method that allows you to focus on discovering your prospect’s pains vs presenting your solution.

How many decision makers do you need to impress?

Most B2B deals have a large ticket size and are complex in nature. They may require multiple layers of approvals / meetings and maybe even a 3-month pilot. On the other hand, the sale and purchase of say consumer products like toothpaste is probably an easier sell as you only need to impress one person and the cost of experimentation is low.

How long is your sales cycle?

Deals that take many months to close — such as most enterprise deals — may need a great deal of relationship building, time spent on follow-ups and even post-sale check-ins. The time it takes to close the deal will help you understand which sales method to pick.

How mature is your sales team?

While your product, sales process and sales methodology should dictate the demographics of your sales team, sometimes it’s the other way round to begin with. Certain sales methodologies require a more evolved, mature approach to selling, other sales methods can be picked up easily. Either way — make sure to train and upskill your sales team.

What’s next?

Once you have selected the right sales methodology for your team, you need to invest time and resources in your people and technology.

What does investing in your people mean in this context? It means training your sales team to connect with, qualify and guide your prospects through the buying process.

How can you make this easier for your sales team? By investing in the right technology and tools like Clari that can surface all the right insights.

Interested in learning more?

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