Crafting a perfect email, initiating tons of calls, and sending messages through social media but the deals do not move through the pipeline and, more importantly, do not close. Ever been there?
We feel your pain.
The thing is that it's not only about your persistence and the number of sales channels you employ. It's about psychology, selling philosophy, and guidelines you follow to close deals in particular businesses.
It's about the framework. It's about methodology.
In this article, we'll explore some popular sales methodologies, what they are and when it's appropriate to use them.
Since this is a vast topic, and we want to ensure we cover the most important sales techniques, this article is split into two. So, without further ado…
What is a sales methodology?
A sales method or selling technique is employed by a salesperson or sales team to generate revenue and increase sales. A dedicated sales professional will work on the sales processes for many years to find ones that work well for them - these are not one-size-fits-all techniques, so they're usually refined by trial and error using previous experiences.
It tells you how to approach potential customers and what to say to them. You can use it as a guide to help your sales representative approach the client and close the deal more effectively. One way to think about it is that the sales process is the "What," and the sales technique is "How" you put your sales process into action.
"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing."
― W. Edwards Deming
An effective methodology is one that is widely used throughout the entire sales team. This means empowering sales reps, managers, and even directors with adequate sales trainings. To help sales reps improve their abilities, training must be practical and scalable.
List of sales methodologies for B2B
There are various selling methodologies – some of them are based on the basic principles of psychology while others were created by sales coaches and consultants. It's wrong to say that some of them are good and some of them are bad. It would be more accurate to say that each of them is applicable and effective for specific industries, business models, and sales team characteristics.
Let's review each model to see its differences and when it might be helpful.
Target Account Selling
What is Target Account Selling? Target account selling means finding the ideal prospects based on characteristics of your buyer personas and focus on closing these accounts.
Rather than looking at various opportunities, each sales representative narrows their emphasis to a small number of key accounts. In this way, the company can create closer relationships with each of its customers, get to know their needs in detail, and offer consistent high-value sales messages until they convert.
This method is all about quality over quantity – sales reps won't have a big number of deals in their pipeline, however, they'll make extra efforts to close each of them.
When to use Target Account Selling methodology? When selling to large corporations with numerous stakeholders and decision-makers, the target account selling strategy is reasonable to use. It's also applicable for deals with a long sales cycle.
It also works well for subscription-based products, those with tiered price plans, or those with much room for upselling and cross-selling. Approaching large-ticket deals in this manner has shown to be extremely effective in the past.
What is Spin Selling? SPIN Selling, written by Neil Rackham in 1988, was the first book to make use of this strategy. In the book, Rackham provides a methodology for designing and timing structured questions that sales reps should use to seal a deal.
SPIN is an acronym for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-payoff and is founded on the notion that customers buy items to solve specific problems, and the sales agent needs to assess what the problem is. Let's unpack that acronym:
- Situation questions: The ultimate goal is to understand the customer and determine if your product or service is a good fit for their needs. It's essential questions that will make you understand where your client is currently at. For example, How do you currently handle the process? How important for your organisation to [achieve results]? Who's involved in the process?
- Problem questions: Are used to understand your prospect's difficulties and their actual reasons for solving them. For example, Are you satisfied with the process/results? How much time do you spend on it? What's the biggest challenge you are facing at the moment?
- Implication questions: Ask the prospects to think about the repercussions of not resolving the issue. For example, How much time do you think is wasted on [process]? How does this issue affect your KPIs? If you had more resources, what could you accomplish?
- Need-payoff questions: Motivates the customer to consider how resolving the issue would have a positive impact on their life. For example, How can [process] be simpler? Would you find it valuable to [process]? How would a solution for [process] help your team?
When to use SPIN methodology: You can use spin questions before meeting a potential client. To help sellers understand their customers' true problems, these questions help sellers isolate the key problems that need to be handled and lay out the repercussions of failing to fix the difficulties.
The discovery/qualification stage of the sales process is where SPIN Selling is most effective. Make sure to include them in your discovery calls. Instead of immediately diving into a product presentation, this approach focuses on getting to know your prospect and learning about their needs.
What is SNAP selling? SNAP was created on a book by Jill Konrath that describes a theory that customers are busy, they are into their business, overloaded with information and don't have time for long conversations with a sales rep.
Keeping things simple, straight-to-the-point, and giving customers only key information is a path to success.
Here are the four principles of SNAP method:
- keep it Simple: Make it as simple as possible for your customers to adopt what you're selling. Prospects don't want to make their lives any more difficult by talking to you. They are pressed for time and cannot afford to waste it on lengthy suggestions. A sales representative's job is to be as open and honest as possible with customers.
- be iNvaluable: Quickly establish credibility and demonstrate the value they can get from your product or service. Focus on how your solution will benefit a company that cares a lot about its employees' well-being. Be an expert in the eyes of your customers.
- always Align: Identify yourself with the issues, concerns, and goals of your customers. You'll easily obtain access to the decision-maker if you make others desire to work with you.
- raise Priorities: Priorities are always important to a buyer. Selling well entails getting to know your customers and finding out what motivates them. The organisation's priorities should be tied to your messaging.
When to use SNAP selling? SNAP Selling helps salespeople deal with buyers who are overloaded, tough to connect with and preoccupied and prefer not to be distracted. This is also a good method for selling complicated technological products.
Sandler Selling System
What is the Sandler selling system? David Sandler worked as a sales representative for a large corporation. He finally had enough after being rejected by clients so many times, so he concluded that sales time was being sucked away by three major issues:
- Wasting time on prospects who were not interested in what he had to sell.
- Time spent addressing enquiries from non-customers seeking free guidance.
- Either a hasty "no" or a lengthy "yes."
For example, the Sandler Sales approach teaches salespeople how to operate as a trusting, reliable source for their customers. They act more like advisors rather than as salespeople. The buyer is actually an initiator of purchasing after recommendations. A sales rep won't invest much time into selling to a specific person; they'll better move to the next potential customer.
To sell, a sales rep should concentrate on three levels of pain:
- Technical: In-depth examination of a specific technical problem by the vendor to help the buyer better understand the issue from a business and personal perspective. To ensure that your product is a good investment, you must make it clear to the consumer why they should buy.
- Financial: Ensure potential buyers that they won't only solve technical issues but also get business value in monetary terms – whether they'll save time or resources or what they'll earn.
- Personal: Besides emphasising how your product helps business, think about how your product affects buyers personally. Your product can be helpful for the tasks that a person deals with every day, or it helps reduce their workload.
If a sales representative learns that their solution isn't going to meet the problems of a potential customer, they won't waste time trying to persuade them otherwise.
When to use the Sandler selling system? There is no particular time to best use this; this is more of a style of selling that you can adapt and always use rather than a specific technique for a particular situation.
What is the Challenger approach? Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, the co-authors of "The Challenger Sale", state that nearly every B2B salesman fits into one of five personas:
- The Hard Worker: Has an interest in self-improvement and is self-motivated and perseverant.
- The Lone Wolf: Follows their intuition and produces results but is difficult to manage.
- The Relationship Builder: Builds relationships with prospects and uses a consultative selling technique.
- The Problem Solver: They are detail-oriented, responsive, and strive to address all difficulties that arise.
- The Challenger: Has a unique perspective on the world, enjoys challenging their prospects' perspectives and has a solid understanding of the business.
The book states that challengers are the most successful salespeople, especially in B2B sales.
"A challenger is really defined by the ability to do three things: teach, tailor, and take control."
- Teach: sellers don't teach about their product rather they give advice, generate new ideas for their business, and share fresh information about their industry.
- Tailor: You might communicate with multiple people from one company to close the deals. Each of them has its preferences, challenges, and mindset. As a salesperson, your task is to tailor communication to each person. Ensure that your message sticks.
- Take control: challengers are not scared to be pushed back. They lead conversations and take ownership of them. If the customer says the price is too high, challengers will focus on value.
When to use the Challenger approach? Challenger approach would be effective when selling in high-competitive markets. It's also applicable for big check deals.
Keep in mind that not every sales person would be a challenger. These people always push themselves to broaden their knowledge, ask probing questions, and develop meaningful relationships with clients.
We hope that you found this article helpful, and in light of an average attention span of a human is 8.25 seconds, join us for part two in the next article with even more useful sales methodologies.
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