Unlocking sales success: choosing the right sales methodology for your team

Featured13 mins
Sarah Taylor|Apr 20, 2023
person thinking and interviewing two customers

A map gives you the picture you need to find a path to your destination. The map doesn’t dictate the destination, or how to get there. Instead, it provides a guideline. It highlights the obstacles that you might encounter and presents potential paths forward.

But it’s up to you to figure out the best route to take.

That’s a pretty good illustration of what it’s like to lead a sales team. You’ve got an end goal in mind: build pipeline, close deals, and drive revenue. But there are a lot of ways to get there.

And that’s where picking a sales methodology comes in.

Sales methodologies are structured approaches to selling that can help your sales reps reach your destination. Everyone might know where you’re going, but without a structured approach, you might have five different reps taking five different paths to get there.

Picking a sales methodology helps your team stay on track and gives them the tools they need to reach their desired outcome—more closed deals—in a more reliable way.

That’s why using a proven sales methodology is a simple way to train and level up your sales team. But choosing the right method makes all the difference.

Why implement a sales methodology

80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the initial contact. 44% of sales reps give up after one “no.”

Stats like these might encourage the negative perception that salespeople are far too persistent, but the numbers don’t lie. And as all sales leaders know, persistence is an absolute necessity.

A sales methodology standardizes your selling process, driving adoption of best practices throughout your sales team.

Let’s take a step back first. What’s a sales methodology look like in practice?

It’s a framework used by a sales organization to guide the sales process. Most sales methodologies (or sales models) include a set of principles, strategies, and tactics designed to help sales reps effectively engage with prospects, ask the right questions, identify buyer’s needs, and close deals.

Sales methodologies are widespread—and with good reason. They make a massive difference to the effectiveness of your B2B sales strategy:

  • They provide a guideline for your sales reps to follow when preparing for conversations with prospects.
  • They empower your salespeople to present your solution in a way that’s tailored to each individual prospect.
  • They’re proven and repeatable, eliminating the guesswork that often comes with selling.
  • They make it easy for your sales organization to be consistent and treat all prospects similarly, reducing the likelihood of missed deals or opportunities.
  • They can save time and help your team become more efficient by qualifying prospects faster, reducing the sales cycle.
  • They help you codify and learn from your team’s experience to shape what effective selling looks like at your sales organization.

How to choose the best sales methodology for you

Since there are so many different sales methodologies, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by choices.

But analysis paralysis doesn’t move your sales organization forward.

Some methodologies are easy to disqualify based on your industry or the type of product you’re working with, but you’ll probably still end up with a fair number of options that could work for your team.

When choosing the right sales methodology for your team, you should consider your:

  • Company goals and objectives
  • Customer preferences and buying behavior
  • Sales team strengths and weaknesses
  • Market conditions and competition
  • Product or service complexity

Company goals and objectives

Your sales team is the key driver of your company’s future growth.

The sales methodology you choose has to be aligned with your company goals. If you need to increase market share in the short term, you may need to choose a sales methodology that emphasizes aggressive prospecting and lead generation, like Challenger selling.

When resources are extra tight, it might also be worth working with a methodology like MEDDIC that allows you to disqualify prospects early on—enabling your to focus your attention on deals that have a higher likelihood of success.

But if your objective is to increase long-term customer loyalty, you might choose something that helps build long-term relationships with customers, like Gap selling or Sandler Sales.

Customer preferences and buying behavior

Most customers prefer personalization. In fact, 64% of buyers look for personalized materials and 25% dismiss generic collateral.

This would suggest that using a sales methodology to build rapport and offer tailored solutions might be ideal, such as SPIN selling. That said, some customers value convenience and efficiency more, highlighting how the right choice really depends on your customer base.

Sales team strengths and weaknesses

Fact is, some sales methodologies just may not mesh with your sales team.

Sales representatives often develop an individual style and approach to selling, using tips and tricks that each individual is confident they can effectively implement.

That doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying them out and seeing which approach drives the best results. There’s always room for training and development, and with the right sales enablement you can help anyone get better at applying a specific methodology.

But sometimes the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.

Giving your team tools to approach their sales conversations in a better way is a win for all.

Market conditions and competition

The market often dictates what’s successful and what isn’t.

If your competitors are using a particular sales methodology with success, you may want to consider adopting a similar approach—or a contrasting one. A contrasting approach can differentiate your brand, attracting prospects who have different needs than those of your competition.

Product or service complexity

Highly-complex products and services require a different touch.

There’s a huge difference between selling products where the value proposition is straightforward, simple, and obvious and a product geared towards enterprise customers with a team of decision-makers.

More complex products benefit from an involved selling strategy, such as Gap Selling or presenting your solution with a proof of concept template.

6 sales methodologies to consider

Sales methodologies are widely different.

Some, like the MEDDPICC methodology, define specific steps for the entire B2B sales process. Others are more suitable during one or more parts of the sales process. These types of methodologies don’t usually include steps to follow but rather suggest a general sales approach (like consultative selling) or questions to ask (such as SPIN selling).

You can mix and match different sales models based on your prospects, customers, industry, and sales strategy.

Here are some examples of different selling methodologies to consider (discover more pro's and con's of popular sales methodologies here).

Transactional Selling

Transactional selling is often seen as a little old-school.

This is how people have envisioned sales to work forever: You’re aiming to make a transaction as quickly and efficiently as possible. The goal isn’t to build a long-term relationship or establish rapport with your prospects. It’s to make the sale.

Although it gets a bad rap sometimes, transactional selling does have some benefits. In other words, it works for some situations—usually when you’re aiming for high sales volume and sales efficiency. It’s not typically a good fit for high-value products or for SaaS businesses.

Suitable for: Industries such as retail, where customers make frequent, low-value purchases.

Solution Selling

Solution selling, or customer-centric selling, is a big jump upwards.

The focus here isn’t simply on selling your product (such as in transactional selling), but in identifying the customer’s pain points and presenting your product as a solution to that problem. It’s a great way to make sure you’re selling to the right prospects, encouraging long-term customer loyalty and higher retention.

Suitable for: Industries such as IT, healthcare, and finance, where customers have specific business challenges that require personalized solutions.

Consultative Selling

Consultative selling, or value selling, starts with collaboration. In some ways, it’s the next step up from solution selling.

What do buyers want from sales professionals in the first call? 69% of survey respondents say it’s, “Listen to my needs.” Consultative selling is an ideal sales method to achieve that.

The salesperson and the prospect work together to identify the customer’s needs, before the salesperson provides a tailored solution that’s uniquely effective for them. The goal here—as you’d expect—is to position your sales reps as consultants. Prospects should see them as people who are deeply knowledgeable about the industry and equipped to help solve their potential problems.

Consultative selling is a great way to build trust and rapport with customers, identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and improve the buying process. But it requires highly skilled salespeople, who are experts of their industry.

Suitable for: Industries with complex or technical products or services, such as software or technology.

Challenger Selling

Challenger selling (as documented in best-selling The Challenger Sale) is effective, but it can be one of the harder approaches to get right. It involves challenging the customer's assumptions and offering new insights to solve their pain points and business challenges.

It’s great during economic downturns or when you’re working with established companies that move slowly, because it encourages you to provoke your prospects and convince them that not spending is missing out on opportunities. Challenger sale methodology emphasizes the importance of building credibility and trust with customers by providing value and insight—often making them think about things in a new way or questioning the status quo —and when done well, it can help differentiate you from your competition.

Suitable for: Industries such as technology, healthcare, and finance, where customers have complex business challenges that require new solutions.

SPIN Selling

SPIN is a sales model that can be used in both a consultative or solution-based approach. It focuses on asking open-ended questions to identify the prospect’s:

  • Situation
  • Problems
  • Implications
  • Needs

The goal is to understand the prospect’s needs and decision criteria before making a sales pitch. It’s ideal for building credibility with prospects and discovering unmet needs.

Suitable for: Industries such as consulting, professional services, and software.

Conceptual Selling

In conceptual selling, you sell the concept or idea your project is based on, rather than your product or service.

This means deeply understanding the prospect’s business goals and pain points before presenting a solution. An effective sale depends on positioning your product in a way that appeals to that individual customer needs. Conducting research, asking questions, actively listening, and personalizing solutions are all essential components of conceptual selling.

Suitable for: Industries such as marketing, advertising, and media.

Learn more about the pros and cons of Enterprise Sales, Gap Selling, MEDDIC, MEDDPICC, BANT, Spin Selling, Sandler Sales and Proof of Concept sales methodologies here >>

Once you’ve selected a sales methodology, implementing it doesn’t have to be complicated.

  1. Develop a training plan for the sales team. Sales methodologies are a tool to help your sales team. This is especially important for the more complex methodologies, as it’ll help make sure everyone adopts the new approach.
  2. Define metrics for success. Choose the most important KPIs that you’re targeting and set goals for the team, so you can easily measure how effective the methodology you chose is.
  3. Create collateral for your sales team. It’s much easier to make a new methodology part of your sales process when the team has everything they need for it. This may involve creating new sales scripts, qualifying questions, and objection-handling strategies that align with the methodology.
  4. Explore aligning sales and marketing strategies. Create a more targeted and effective lead generation and conversion process by getting your sales and marketing teams on the same page. Marketing can provide qualified leads to the sales team, who can then use their expertise to convert those leads into customers.
  5. Monitor and adjust based on long-term performance. If the methodology isn’t as successful as you’d like, you might need to make adjustments or offer additional training to your sales team.

Bring all of these together and you’ll be working towards a much more optimized sales process —one that helps you close deals faster.

Enable and empower your sales team

Virtual selling has seen a meteoric rise over the last few years, largely driven by the COVID pandemic. One of the best tools in your toolkit for virtual selling is sending great proposals that win over your customers.

The question is how.

If you’re implementing any of these sales methodologies and want an effortless way to fold them into your sales process, try out Qwilr's sales methodology templates. These templates make it easy.

About the author

Sarah Taylor, Senior Content Marketing Manager

Sarah Taylor|Senior Content Marketing Manager

Sarah leads Qwilr's content marketing efforts – specialising in field marketing, campaign planning, content, brand and communications. Sarah has both agency and global corporate experience spanning Australia, Asia and the UK.