13 effective B2B sales methodologies to use in complex deals

A sales methodology is an essential ingredient if your B2B sales team wants to close large, complex deals, manage your opportunities and challenges, and coach your sales reps through the sales process.

There is an abundance of sales methodologies, all guaranteeing increased revenue and success. Selecting the right one is the key to giving your team a structured approach and keeping them focused on the right steps to close deals.

To help you make that choice, I have assessed 13 effective sales methodologies for closing complex deals. I reviewed the content and what they offer in the field.

What are the most effective sales methodologies?

  1. Target Account Selling
  2. SPIN-Selling
  3. Solution Selling
  4. The Challenger Sale
  5. Sandler Selling System
  6. SNAP Selling
  7. Value-Based Selling
  8. Conceptual Selling
  9. Customer-centric Selling
  10. Command of the Sale
  11. Prescriptive Selling
  12. Consultative Selling
  13. Signal-based sales approach

1. Target Account Selling: compiling target account lists of potential customers for tailored support

Created by Siebel now Oracle

What is Target Account Selling?

Target account selling (TAS) has been a go-to sales methodology ever since it suggested compiling a list of your most relevant customers to target in your marketing and sales efforts.

Target account selling has done an excellent job of unpacking large deals into smaller manageable components for companies like HP and Autodesk.  The sales methodology trains your sales reps on how to compile a target account list (TAL) using firmographic and technographic data, your existing company data, and CRM to reveal current customers that can be upsold. The aim here is to give your team direction when designing and executing tailored campaigns and invest your resources in the prospects with the highest potential value.

Where target account selling stands out is how it coordinates your marketing, sales, and customer success department. Your marketing and sales teams create the ideal customer profile which your sales reps use to pursue applicable accounts. The information is then used by the customer success department which offers details on customer experiences.

Benefits: Great for offering tailored support to a list of potential customers, increases the value of orders, and has strong automation

2. SPIN Selling: a sales methodology that asks the right questions at an appropriate time

Created by Neil Rackham 1988

What is SPIN?

SPIN has also established itself as a go-to method in sales training, as it helps your sales reps build a conversation around your potential customers’ needs before suggesting your product as the solution.

SPIN stands for situation, problem, implication, and need-payoff and has been practical and easy to implement by companies such as Motorola and Johnson & Johnson, as it lays out four categories of questions during different stages of the sales process. During the situation stage, ask questions about your prospects’ existing resources, objectives, and processes. Next is the problem stage, when you can discuss gaps in your prospects strategy to encourage them to resolve them. During the implication stage, your questions should create a sense of urgency and come off as a genuine effort to help, so your prospect can realize the consequences of not addressing the problem. Finally, at the need-payoff stage, you can discuss the need, utility, and value of your solution.

Rather than explicitly telling prospects about a product or services’ value or potential impact, the goal of SPIN selling is to guide prospects to these realizations on their own” -Emma Brudner

Benefits: Great for acquiring a deeper insight into your prospects’ pain points, reveals how they make major buying decisions while your sales reps will face fewer objections.

3. Solution Selling: offering a solution that addresses issues and provides value

Created by Michael Bosworth 1988

What is Solution Selling?

Solution selling has been quite popular among sales reps committed to diagnosing prospect circumstances to accommodate their unique concerns and needs.

Solution selling has guidelines for training your sales reps on how to learn more about your prospects underlying pain points. Secondly, find out how to structure your questions to learn what causes these problems so you can rank them according to importance. This way you can start a conversation about the magnitude of these problems, urgency, and how their business would benefit if the pains were resolved.

You can then paint a picture of how and why your solution will benefit a prospect and gauge their interest in your product. Solution selling shines in helping your prospect realize the benefit of your product’s value and ROI without you having to boast about what it is.

Benefits: one of the most popular sales methodologies with an extensive knowledge base that has proven its versatility in ever-changing purchasing environments.

4. The Challenger Sale: do you crave a good debate and want to challenge your prospect?

Created by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

What is the Challenger Sale?

The challenger sale is a great addition to the line-up of sales methodologies as it trains your sales reps to become challengers, a type of salesperson that leads with debates, pushes back at the right moments, and educates your prospects.

As a challenger, you work to understand what brings your prospect value by using the three T’s: teach your prospect something valuable about their industry exposure or market opportunities. Next is to tailor your offer by being the one to reveal what your customer needs. Finally, take control over the discussion as it becomes more and more personalized.

What stands out about the challenger sales methodology, is that it encourages sales reps to make their approach more versatile and discover new ways to create a connection with prospects. You can do this by researching the strategies and habits of top performers and salespeople. Find out more about the challenger profile and other types of salespeople in selling is not about relationships.

Benefits: A sales methodology supported by extensive research, and helps you gain a competitive advantage as well as manage multiple decision-makers

5. Sandler Selling System: emphasizing the qualifying process to reveal high-value customers

Created by David Sandler In 1967

What is the Sandler Selling System?

The Sandler Selling System is one of the oldest sales methodologies still in use today because it blends well with diverse selling environments, speeds up the sales process, and puts more effort into the prospect qualification.

The Sandler selling system has three stages designed to identify high-value potential customers that are ready to buy. The first stage entails building a relationship with your prospect so both of you can set clear expectations. Second is the qualifying process to learn about their pain points and ask questions about their budget to confirm how able and interested they are in spending money, resources and time. The qualifying process is also when the decisions and the next steps will be discussed. The final stage entails closing the deal which is when you channel what you learned during the qualifying stage.

The Sandler Selling Systems’ biggest strength is its ongoing support and the great guidelines it offers during discovery calls.

Benefits: The Sandler selling system speeds up the sales process, saves time by filtering out any immature deals early in the cycle, and improves your team’s people skills

6. SNAP Selling: keeping it simple and bringing sales reps down to the prospects’ level

Created by Jill Konrath in 2012

What is SNAP Selling? 

Since 2012 SNAP selling has supported B2B sales teams in making the sales process easier for busy prospects that are already overloaded with information and spend less time on decision-making.

SNAP which stands for simple, invaluable, aligned, priorities, helps your sales reps keep it simple and design a convenient way for your prospects to shift their existing habits and embrace your solution. It also trains your sales reps on how to become invaluable by demonstrating your value and expertise. Equally important is aligning your beliefs and objectives while making them desirable to your prospect. Lastly, raising your priorities is about focusing on your prospects and their companies needs.

What we like about SNAP is that it arms your sales rep with the strategies to guide your prospects through their decision-making journey which includes not only whether to buy or not, but whether to permit access, make an unconventional move and what resources need to be changed.

Benefits: SNAP arms your team with strategies for busy prospects, offers a smooth, simple buying cycle, and decreases pressure on both ends to come to a decision.

7. Value-Based Selling: shed light on the benefits and needs your product fulfills

Created by Ram Charan in 1991

What is Value-Based Selling?

Value-based selling is another solid sales methodology choice as it nails the basics: prioritizing your customers’ needs and it is particularly relevant where pushing a solution is less efficient than offering valuable insights and being flexible with your solutions.

The key to value-based selling’s success is its focus on learning about your prospects’ issues, priorities, and motivations by using open-ended questions, probing questions, and confirming questions. Open-ended questions offer expansive answers so you can gain crucial insights while probing questions require a bit more drilling into their business challenges. Confirming questions are then designed for you to reaffirm that you are both on the same page.

One of value-based selling’s biggest strengths is its clear principles that have been used by Siemens and IBM. The principles include firstly, building trust by identifying common networks and your prospects’ interests. Then, avoid selling them something too early and rather focus on listening. The next principle is about educating your prospect so you can help them make an informed decision. Finally, take on the role of a friend because adding value is not a once-off, but something that you will add during every engagement.

Benefits: Value-based selling increases conversion rates, assists with prospects wanting a clear rationale, and decreases the amount of pushback.

8. Conceptual Selling: frame your product as an idea and persuade your prospect to purchase the desired outcome

Created by Robert Miller and Stephan Heiman 

What is Conceptual Selling?

Conceptual selling sees value in selling an idea or concept and is relevant for B2B businesses wanting to establish long-term relationships. Instead of convincing your customers with a sales pitch, you are identifying the ideas behind a solution and gaining insight into your prospects’ concept of the offer.

What stands out about conceptual selling is its emphasis on active listening to uncover how your prospect conceptualizes their pain points and makes decisions. Remember that how your prospect understands their problems becomes the reason behind their need to purchase. So, regardless of how you understand the benefits of your solution, it is always the prospects’ understanding that counts.

Customer interactions are built around asking five types of questions. Confirmation questions help you reaffirm existing information; new information questions help you confirm how your prospect conceptualizes the product; attitude questions help you understand your prospect better and their interests; commitment questions reveal your prospects’ level of investment in this project, and basic issue questions will assist you in understanding any potential issues.

Benefits: Conceptual selling helps you build a solid reputation, your competitive advantage is revealed sooner, and planning engagements with customers is made easier.

9. Customer-Centric Selling: providing a great customer experience to stand out from the competition

Created by Michael Bosworth 

What is Customer-Centric Selling?

Customer-centric selling is highly relevant if your B2B company needs to build stronger customer-sales bonds. Everything ultimately revolves around your customers’ convenience, and the sales processes need to be adaptable to meet their goals, current situation, and schedule.

Customer-centric selling is a well-respected sales methodology because it shifts away from a hard-selling approach and instead asks questions to gauge how your solution can be altered to meet your customers’ needs more closely.

There are eight elements to the customer-centric sales methodology. The first element is adapting your conversations to focus on what your prospect is dealing with and see their perspective. Then, instead of giving opinions, ask appropriate questions and try not to take over conversations. Next, ensure that your prospect knows that you will be with them every step of the way. Then, remember to target the right decision-makers and emphasize how your product can make their life easier, as this is more important than its technical features. The next element is maintaining quality bonds with your prospects and remembering that everything will occur on their timeline. The final component is empowering your potential customer to solve their problems

Benefits: Customer-centric selling results in increased customer referrals, it implements measures for the post-sell stage, and loyalty will follow naturally after trust.

10. Command of the Sale: tailor your sales enablement tools/activities based on existing solutions

Created by GrowthPlay in 2003

What is Command of the Sale?

GrowthPlay has supported high-tech and software companies to surpass their expectations of growth. The answer to their success is how they combine (command of the sale), a method of qualifying prospects, and (command of the message), which means adding value to your message.

What we like about Command of the sale is that it arms sales teams with the tools to improve their qualification efforts and direct their resources to the right opportunities.  Also, the strategies reveal your prospects’ problems and support them through their affirmation and decision stages.

To be successful, you need to understand your prospects’ goals and what they aim to achieve, the kind of value that is at the center of their business, and how your team will deliver on your promises. Equally important is being able to trump your competitors by revealing how and why your solution addresses the prospects’ issues, meets their objectives and interests in a way that stands apart from other solutions.

Benefits: An easily integrative approach that helps maintain control and simultaneously addresses other steps in the sales process

11. Prescriptive Selling: a sales methodology that maps out a customer journey

What is Prescriptive Selling?

Prescriptive selling is an interesting entry into the line-up of sales methodologies. Despite not being around long, sales reps acknowledge this sales methodology for addressing uncertainty, indecisiveness, and buyers’ anxiety during the sales process.

Research shows that over 40% of buyers second-guess their decision after a sale is complete. In response, prescriptive selling does a great job at training sales reps on how to outline a potential customers’ journey and address challenges along the way. What this means is that how conversations are approached, how objections are managed, and how your sales rep articulates value will be done in a way to help your customer make a decision, instead of convincing them why they should purchase your product.

What is great about prescriptive selling is that it explains how to demonstrate customer support throughout their journey, as then sales reps can address indecisiveness by dealing with specific needs. Also, verifiers play an essential role in prescriptive selling as they track customer progress throughout the project.

Benefit: Customers question their choice less, experience less post-sale anxiety, and substantial support from you means a smooth sales cycle.

12. Consultative Selling: show genuine interest and gain a competitive advantage

Created by Mack Hanan

What is Consultative Selling?

Consultative selling is based entirely on people and encourages your sales rep to become an expert in the field, have extensive knowledge and a strong reputation.  It also emphasizes asking questions to gauge situations and expectations.

Consultative selling highlights seven strategies that sales reps should adopt when this sales methodology. The first strategy is to create a balance between questions asked and corresponding insights. Next is developing knowledge-based trust by proving how reliable and consistent you can be. Then, ensure that you are scalable and sympathetic and help your prospect gain new perspectives by maintaining control of the discussion.

The next strategy is to get feedback because when your prospect reaffirms their interest in solutions you can use this information for the remainder of the process. Then, research future gaps before prospects become aware of them as this gives you a competitive advantage. Finally, listening is central to the success of this sales methodology as it shows that you care about the things that matter to your prospect.

Benefits: Opportunities for repeat sales in small, specialized markets, It is an ethical approach to sales, and there are greater conversions when your engagements use emotion.

13. Signal-Based Sales Approach- Turn sales information into effective behaviors

What is a signal-Based Sales Approach?

Today, there are copious amounts of data available to sales reps, and signal-based selling is a new way to turn this data into more versatile sales rep behaviors. There is a strong focus on internal reward systems to address and motivate your team.

What is great about this sales methodology is that it is concerned with analyzing engagements between customers and sales reps and noticing the practices that have made a difference during the sales process. Learning how to utilize an appropriate message and how to upsell is basic, but vital improvements that help your team become more engaged, move through the sales process faster, and build a stronger bond with customers.

It is easy to forget that incentives and micro-rewards are a simple yet productive way to reinforce excitement and participation internally during the sales cycle and alter certain behaviors. Of utmost importance, is directing efforts to what matters which is verifying customer intent and understanding markers of success.

Benefits: Designed for the digital age, ensures that there is a lens on company culture, and your team learns from each other.

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