The average sales cycle for closed-won deals is 96 days. Even closed-lost deals average 20 days of a sales rep’s time. With so much time dedicated to closing, it’s more important than ever to organize your team’s efforts around a central sales methodology.
A sales methodology defines best practices for an entire sales team. When everyone uses the same tactics, you can learn what’s working, identify what isn’t working, and tweak the approach accordingly.
Think of a sales methodology as the control in an experiment. If each rep on your team approaches sales differently, you lose the “control” aspect of your sales process, which will affect the accuracy of your metrics and the effectiveness of any changes you make to the process. In order to make data-driven decisions about your sales strategy, your entire team needs to be applying the same practices to their sales process.
What Is a Sales Methodology?
Although “sales methodology” and “sales process” are often used interchangeably, there is a distinction. While a sales process will map out tasks to accomplish throughout the sales cycle, a methodology serves as a framework of best practices.
A process tells you to qualify leads. A methodology tells you how you to do that. For example, a methodology might dictate that video calls and in-person meetings are favored over phone calls and emails because the methodology focuses on a strong customer connection as early as possible.
Sales methodologies have been around as long as sales, but not all methods have stood the test of time.
Proven Sales Methodologies
Just because a method has been around for decades does not mean you should trust it. Nor should you rely on a framework that does not align with your company’s values and principles.
One could argue that snake oil selling is one of the oldest sales methodologies, but it does not rely on the values of a reputable company. Though they may have led to initial sales, snake oil tactics were grounded in deceit.
A proven sales methodology is driven by principles a company can stand behind and leverage for continued sales. Before you implement a proven sales methodology, ensure that its grounding values align with your own.
Sales Methodologies for Qualifying Leads
The following methods all work on the central belief that if a lead isn’t qualified, it is not worth spending time trying to win the sale.
MEDDIC Sales Methodology
Also known as the MEDDIC Checklist, the MEDDIC sales methodology is used to qualify leads and forecast sales. The acronym spells out a method for navigating complex sales:
- Metrics - Quantifying the potential economic impact and benefit for the company
- Economic Buyer - The person in charge of relevant budget decisions
- Decision Process - The company’s process for making purchase decisions
- Decision Criteria - Formal criteria defined by the company to make the purchase decision
- Identify Pain - Pain points that the seller’s product or service can solve
- Champion - Influential people at the company who will support the seller’s solution
Thanks to the thorough knowledge-gathering system, MEDDIC has proven very useful for qualifying leads while arming the sales rep with valuable information. What makes MEDDIC stand out from other lead qualifying-focused methodologies is the champion component.
Generally, champions are not the buyer or decision maker but rather the person who will benefit the most from the purchase decision. So, once the salesperson determines that the buyer is worth pursuing, they seek internal support from a champion. After all, the champion is most invested in the sales rep’s success.
For a streamlined employee training solution, such as an AI-driven sales curriculum builder, the champion would likely be the overworked trainer who spends half their day repeating the same information.
MEDDIC Sales Methodology Key Focus: Finding support within the buyer’s company once a lead is qualified.
BANT Sales Methodology
IBM created the BANT criteria to find promising opportunities. In order for a lead to be qualified, it must meet at least three of the four BANT criteria:
- Budget - Is the product/service within the prospect’s budget?
- Authority - Does the prospect have the authority to make the purchase decision, or will they be able to support the purchase on your behalf?
- Needs - What does the business need?
- Timeline - When will the prospect implement a solution?
The criteria above should be interpreted loosely. For example, “budget” could also be interpreted as “priority,” especially when it comes to companies that generate profit through subscriptions. If a subscription company believes that the solution is a priority, they will find the budget.
Similarly, “needs” could be addressed by presenting a solution that is so impactful that it feels necessary, like automating parts of the sales process so that sales agents can focus on high-value activities. While a company might not need the automation, if the solution is valuable enough, it will feel essential.
Although the main goal of BANT is to determine whether or not pursuing a customer is worthwhile, the timeline aspect also encourages following up and re-engaging old leads if the solution could be useful to the customer in the future.
BANT Sales Methodology Key Focus: Qualifying leads right away to avoid wasting time.
Sandler Sales Methodology
By requiring that initial effort be spent more on qualifying a lead rather than focusing on a sale, the Sandler sales methodology takes a counterintuitive approach. Its creator, David Sandler, believes that pushing for a close early on generally results in both the potential buyer and the seller feeling exasperated.
To avoid frustration, the Sandler methodology requires sales reps to determine early on whether what they are selling actually addresses the customer’s needs. Once the lead has been qualified, the Sandler Submarine comes into play.
David Sandler based this structured sales system on the process used to avoid disaster on a submarine. As the crew moves through compartments, they must seal off the previous compartment and continue moving forward. The Sandler sales methodology requires sales reps to stick to a structured plan. They cannot move backwards and risk “sinking” the sale.
Sandler Sales Methodology Key Focus: Qualifying leads and working through a specific plan without deviations.
Sales Methodologies That Address the Entire Sales Cycle
While the following methodologies include tactics for qualifying leads, they also provide guidance that can be applied throughout the sales cycle.
Challenger Sales Methodology
In their book The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson introduced their belief that every sales rep falls into one of five categories:
- The Hard Worker - Self-motivated, happily goes above-and-beyond, interested in feedback that helps them further develop their skills
- The Lone Wolf - Independent, self-assured, trusts their own instincts
- The Relationship Builder - Works very well with others, builds strong customer relationships, able to gain internal support from potential buyers
- The Problem Solver - Very responsive, great at pinpointing problems, dedicated to finding solutions
- The Challenger - Approaches the world with a unique point of view, enjoys debating and questioning the beliefs of others, has a thorough understanding of a customer’s business needs
The Challenger sales methodology aims to convert every sales rep into The Challenger. In order to make the change, sales reps must learn how to control the customer conversation by questioning the potential buyer’s beliefs.
Great Challengers can initiate a debate with the customer, exposing a problem that the customer didn’t know they had. The Challenger then wins them over by showing how the product or service will solve the customer’s issue.
Challenger Sales Methodology Key Focus: Controlling the conversation and questioning the buyer’s point of view.
SPIN Sales Methodology
Neil Rackham introduced the SPIN sales methodology in his book, SPIN Selling. The acronym represents four types of questions:
- Situation - What’s the buyer’s current situation? “How do you manage your customer contacts?”
- Problem - Expose a problem the buyer might have overlooked. “How much time do you spend on updating customer information?”
- Implication - Show the impact of the problem. “If sales reps do not update customer contacts for a company, does that delay or terminate the sales process?”
- Need-payoff - Lead them with questions that make them tell you the benefits of your product. “If you could automate that process, would that speed up your sales cycle?”
Using a question-centric tactic forces sales reps to listen more than they talk. Instead of launching into how a product or service can solve the customer’s problem, the seller can use questions to gently guide the customer to sell to themselves.
The SPIN sales methodology is not meant to be used as a checklist but rather as a conversational guide. Naturally weaving leading questions into the conversation is key. When done well, SPIN selling can lead to potential buyers making the connection between their problem and the seller’s solution all on their own.
SPIN Sales Methodology Key Focus: Asking questions in order to identify problems that your product/service can solve.
Agile Sales Methodology
This methodology originated in IT project management. The goal was to move away from “waterfall” methods and switch them to “agile" methods.
With the agile sales methodology, work is broken into “sprints,” each of which has a specific objective. Sprints are then further broken down into milestones so that progress is possible to monitor.
Daily stand-ups are used to keep a constant pulse on how the sales cycle is progressing. Each day, sales reps have a short meeting to discuss what was accomplished yesterday, what will be accomplished today, and any issues that have been identified. Stand-ups provide opportunities to give and receive feedback and also ensure that the team is held accountable for their work.
Agile avoids the “waterfall” of data and feedback happening all at once by continuously tracking wins and losses so that small adjustments can be made throughout the process.
Agile Sales Methodology Key Focus: Flexibility plus accountability.
Support Your Chosen Sales Methodology
There are many more options available to you. Regardless of which method you choose, be consistent and enthusiastic to ensure its adoption. Consistency is key!
Once you establish a framework that suits your needs, begin to identify behaviors that positively or negatively affect your sales process. Remember, your sales methodology is your sales process “control.” Once you have the entire sales team following the best practices defined by your chosen approach, experiment with minor adjustments to your sales process to see what works and what doesn’t.
With the help of Chorus, you can ensure your sales methodology is adopted and continue to refine your strategy with playlists that highlight sales wins, playbooks for handling common objections, and more.
Contact us to discuss how Chorus Insights can ensure methodology adoption and make increasing win rates simpler.