Do you have a sales process or a sales methodology? It’s important to have both and even more important not to confuse the two. A sales process includes the steps taken from lead acquisition to nurturing to conversion. It’s formalized in almost every successful business. A sales methodology is the philosophy that drives how you execute steps in the process. If you haven’t formalized your methodology, you should. Here’s a brief overview of 5 sales methodologies. Different methodologies add something different to the sales process. One might be right for your business.
No one likes to feel manipulated and today’s buyers are more frazzled than ever. They are faced with tight deadlines and are overloaded with information. The SNAP selling process, introduced by Jill Konrath, aims to speed up the selling process by providing a smooth runway for transaction takeoff. Sales staff must keep the process very simple and your product or service must be easy to adopt. The salesperson is viewed as a trusted expert in the field and represents a company with easily identifiable core beliefs. Instead of an entire product line, only one or two solutions are offered. When written proposals are developed, the value proposition is clean and concise, the executive summary is brief and backed by real-world case studies. All details such as references, analyst reports etc. are included in an appendix. This methodology is not well suited for highly complex transactions that involve multiple layers of approval. However, it is excellent for selling where the buyer has purchasing authority and decisions are made quickly.
This methodology was first described by Neil Rackham in 1989. It is still popular today because it works. SPIN selling is a communication-focused methodology that concentrates on the actual sales call. The name is a mnemonic device to help remember the 4 types of questions that structure the call: situation, problem, implication, and needs payoff. SPIN sellers listen more than they talk during a call. It requires due diligence in investigating the prospect well before the initial call and obtaining commitment in each step of the way before you proceed with the next step. This methodology is well suited for situations where the final purchase decision is made at the C-suite. The communications focus on the implications to the business for not solving their problem and are designed to transform implied needs to explicit needs. This methodology is well suited for complex deals such as large sales of software, consulting services and other transactions with an extended sales process and where the final decision lies in the C-suite.
Sandler Selling System
On the other hand, the Sandler Selling System is geared towards the sale of goods with a short sales cycle. It is well suited for companies that take a large volume of small orders and utilize one-on-one selling. This methodology is highly dependent upon the prior adoption of a formal sales process. Each step in the process must be compartmentalized and you don’t proceed to the next step in the process until the prior step is complete. It is dependent upon the sales representative’s ability to build rapport and quickly determine if they are working with a person that has the money and authority (or the ability to advocate to the one in authority) to close the deal. Sandler trained representatives to know how to elicit objections and obstacles early in the process and abandon the lead if closing is not likely. Cost is always discussed early in the process to determine if the prospect is qualified. The Sandler Selling System has been successfully used by homebuilders, financial planners, engineers and others that rely on one-on-one selling.
When customers know you are listening to them, they will listen to you. This is the philosophy behind CustomerCentric Selling, a methodology that attempts to reframe selling. It consists of detailed processes and tools that enable the buyer to visualize your product/service as the solution to their problem. Instead of the traditional sales call, the sales effort becomes a project that helps the customer follow a series of steps in the decision-making process related to buying a solution to a business problem. Instead of formal presentations, there are conversations. This methodology recognizes that not everyone in the sales process has the same goal, but you must meet the goals of each person in the approval process. This is well suited for software and services. It is not for use with commodities or physical products.
Miller-Heiman (Conceptual Selling Methodology)
Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman developed the Conceptual Selling methodology as a way to manage the plethora of stakeholders that are involved when a transaction is large and complex. It is well suited for selling to large enterprise or transactions with large monetary values where many people must give approval or input to close the deal. Conceptual Selling convinces the customer to buy the concept of a solution, not a specific product or service. Not only are you making a sale, but you are building a long-term relationship and adding to your referral network. It requires intensive investigation and setting a single sales objective before the first call: what you will sell, how much you will sell, and the day by which you will have the approval.
Adopting a Methodology
No matter which methodology you adopt, training and practice are the keys to successful implementation. Be sure to allow time for the team to attend workshops and training sessions as well as regular internal follow-up meetings. Practice one behavior at a time and carefully plan sales calls. Review calls to identify lessons learned that can be shared.