6 Sales Methodologies That Every Sales Executive Should Know

Written by Davey Warren

Published on May 12, 2020

Get the latest blog updates in your inbox.

There is a lot more to selling than what you see on the surface. It’s not just about closing a deal one time. It’s about doing it repeatedly in an efficient manner while ensuring that you get the highest revenues possible. And this is where sales methodologies come in.

What Is A Sales Methodology?

A sales methodology is an actionable framework that guides the activities of your sales representatives. It dictates how they approach selling between and at each stage of the sales process.

Its goal is to enhance the chances of success for your sales representatives regardless of the stage at which your customers are in the sales cycle. Think of it as a map that shows your salespeople how to perform relevant tasks to achieve their sales goals.

Different businesses will use different sales methodologies to generate sales and revenues. That’s because the best practices that work for one company may not work for another. Every business has unique business needs that necessitate the use of different frameworks. But bear in mind that two different companies could use one kind of sales methodology and succeed in the same way. That’s because these frameworks are meant to achieve a specific goal.

Common Sales Methodologies That You Should Know

Some sales methodologies are common across multiple industries and sectors. Here are some that you can adapt to your business and use as a guide for your sales teams:

1.   The Challenger Sale Methodology

The Challenger Sales Methodology is based on The Challenger Sale, a book by co-authors Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson. The book is based on research that shows what top-performing salespeople use to generate sales, and how their method can be replicated in any organization.

According to the book, there are 5 B2B sales personas: challengers, hard workers, reactive problem solvers, lone wolves, and relationship builders. But it is the challengers that makeup 40% of the best-performing salespeople.

According to the authors’ research, challengers view the world differently from other people and have no qualms about taking control of the sales conversation and debating customers. Their keen understanding of the customers’ business enables them to push customers to take desired actions. What they don’t know, they are willing to learn even when they don’t have innate talents.

So, based on the challenger methodology, your salespeople should be assertive and not be afraid to use controversy to challenge the customers’ thinking. Your sales team can use this sales model to teach prospects about existing business problems then tailor communications to suit their needs. Additionally, salespeople who choose this methodology should focus on the end goal of generating sales, rather than being likable.

2.   Conceptual Selling

Conceptual selling is a sales methodology that was developed by Stephen Heiman and Robert Miller. Sometimes referred to as the Miller-Heiman Methodology. At the core of this framework is the ability to listen to customers to determine how they conceptualize your product so that you can sell it to them.

What is it that is making them buy your solution? How do they think it will solve their needs? Understanding these things is the key to selling customers what your company has to offer.

Salespeople who choose to use conceptual selling need to ask intelligent questions that fall into five categories:

  • Confirmation questions that help to reaffirm information: I understand that you are looking for a fitness product you can use at home without the need for professional instruction. Is that correct?
  • New information questions that help your sales team determine your prospects’ concept of your product or service while exploring their desired results: Could you tell me what the exercise bike would do for you? What kind of fitness result are you looking to achieve in this case?
  • Attitude questions that help your sales team understand your prospects at a personal level to determine their connection to the project/product: How come you haven’t been exercising before? Have you been using any equipment until this point to stay fit?
  • Commitment questions that seek to help your sales representative determine the investment your prospects intend to make in the project/product: How important is it to you that you get an exercise bike in your home? Are there any challenges that will make it difficult for you to install it and make use of it regularly basis?
  • Basic issue questions that raise any potential problems that a prospect may encounter: Are you comfortable with the cost of purchase, installation, and delivery? Would you be able to maintain your exercise bike and exercise without supervision?

Because this sales methodology places a heavy emphasis on listening to customers, it enables sales reps to determine the pain points that the clients have. That, in turn, ensures that your sales team can quickly sell a product by stating how it will address those pain points. The model, therefore, provides a win-win solution to all parties involved in the transaction process.

3.   N.E.A.T. Selling

N.E.A.T. Selling is a sales methodology that was created by the Harris Consulting Group and Sales Hacker.  N.E.A.T. is an acronym for Need, Economic Impact, Access to Authority, and Timeline.

The N.E.A.T. selling methodology is a sales framework you can use it to drive sales by eliminating prospects that would not be a good fit for your solutions. This framework works as follows:

  • Your sales team will look deeply into the challenges your customers face to determine their core needs.
  • Your sales team will then offer a new perspective between the revenues your prospects are on track to achieve and the positive economic impact buying your product or service will have on those revenues.
  • If the prospects are not in a position to decide on buying your company offerings, your sales team will then determine those with decision-making authority or access to them.
  • The sales representatives will then set a deadline that compels your prospects to make a purchasing decision to avoid dealing with negative consequences.

4.   SPIN Selling

Neil Rackham popularized SPIN selling through his book with a similar name that was published in 1988. It is based on a study of 35,000 sales professionals across 20 countries.

SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff. The sales methodology seeks to identify prospect needs, offer value, and then sell. Here’s how your sales team can use this methodology to drive sales:

  • After doing basic research, your sales representatives should ask situation questions. The goal of these questions is to determine what prospects are currently dealing with using the existing resources.
  • The problem questions are meant to help prospects identify their problems and pain points. The questions must be framed in a way that helps prospects take ownership of their issues.
  • At the implication stage, your sales team should try to get the prospects to see the consequences of not dealing with their problems. It makes them more likely to seek resolutions.
  • It’s at the need-payoff stage that your sales representatives can prompt your prospects to recognize the benefits of using your products or services to solve their problems. If they can see the value of your solution without your salespeople selling it to them, then it makes the selling process much more comfortable.

5.   Sandler Selling System

David Sandler created the Sandler selling system in 1967. It’s one of the oldest sales methodologies. The framework works by enabling the sales representative to build a relationship with prospects while determining if they will be a good fit before closing the sale.

To ensure that your prospect is just as invested as your sales representative in the sales process, use the Sandler selling system. Here is a summary of how it works:

  • Your sales representatives will analyze the prospects’ situations. Then they will assess the obstacles that will act as a barrier to sale in the qualification process. These include challenges such as time and budgetary constraints.
  • If the rep determines that your company solutions will not be a good fit for the prospects, they simply abandon the sales process.
  • For those that qualify, the sales team will then invest time and energy into acting as advisors to the prospects. Their goal is to nurture a relationship that enables the salespeople to offer a solution to customers that is necessary.

6.   Solution Selling

Solution selling is a sales methodology created in the 1980s. It is a problem-led framework that seeks to address how a product change could cause a prospect to experience improvements to their current situation. It works quite well in cases where there is a complex sales process that is involved.

Today’s customers know what they want. They take the time to do their research. Many have some awareness of their situation as well as the potential solutions that are available to them. They have a solid understanding of what they need, even if they haven’t decided yet.

To meet such customers where they are, your sales team should use solution selling. The framework enables your sales reps to understand their prospects’ pain points. They can do this by researching previously-closed deals to see the triggers that caused previous customers to buy. Your company can then create a series of questions that help your sales team diagnose the issues your prospect may be dealing with.

Once the prospects’ pain points have been identified, your sales rep can then sell your products or services. They can do this by showing the prospects how your company offerings will solve the problems they have.

A sales rep will emphasize the solutions offered rather than the specs and benefits of your products. It’s all about creating a custom solution rather than a generic one. Bundling a suite of your company products is an excellent way to do this.

Which Sales Methodology Is Right For You?

You need to find a sales methodology that works for you. That would require an investment of time and training on your part. You need to have a solid understanding of each sales methodology and how it would work within your business. Bear in mind the type of customers that you have, the complexity of your sales process, and the type of product or service that you sell. All these things will influence your choice of sales models. In the end, you need to find one or more frameworks that can help you generate sales efficiently and sustainably in the long run.


Originally published May 12, 2020 4:16:00 PM, updated Jul 26, 2021