Top 17 Sales Methodologies You Need to Know
What’s the best sales methodology today?
In truth, there’s no single good answer to that question. There are lots of different types of strategies because there are lots of different types of sales teams. The best sales methodologies for you are the ones that help you accomplish your goals.
Most sales organizations eventually develop their own unique approach to the sales process. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, and there’s no perfect place to start.
Maybe you want to lean into social selling. After all, 78% of sales reps that use social media outsell their peers who shy away from social platforms.
Alternatively, you might decide to shop around for a sales system to train your reps. The Sandler Selling System, for example, boasts that 88% of Sandler-trained reps report that their sales strategy has improved.
Choosing a successful sales methodology begins with choosing a strategy that suits your team, but making a smart choice is only the beginning. No methodology can be effective if you can’t get your sales reps to consistently follow the framework.
In this guide, we explore 17 of the most effective sales methodologies for a wide variety of sales teams.
Then, since choosing a methodology is arguably the easiest part, we’ll also dive into some tips and strategies to get your sales reps on board with your new system.
1. Target Account Selling
If you have a clear idea of your “perfect” customer and it makes sense to invest in relationships with those prospects, Target Account Selling might be right for you.
Target Account Selling is a customer-centric methodology that focuses on finding and converting only the specific leads you want.
Your marketing and sales team work closely together to find those perfect-fit prospects, nurture long-term relationships with them, and eventually convert them into customers.
After the sale has been made, the customer then gets passed along to the customer success team. It’s their job to make sure that existing clients are happy, but they also serve a critical function for sales and marketing: your customer success agents should share information about long-term relationships with your hard-won clients so that you can continue refining your approach.
Over time, that feedback helps develop marketing strategies and sales processes that are better at targeting prospects who are likely to be happy, long-term customers.
Sound like a lot of work?
It is, but this approach makes sense for sales teams that focus exclusively on specialized, high-value deals.
If your business strategy hinges on connecting with a small, but potentially profitable customer base, this might be a good methodology to consider.
2. Consultative Selling
When a sales organization uses the Consultative Selling methodology, reps act more like consultants than salespeople. They aim to build trust-based relationships with prospects, ultimately being regarded as a valuable expert that can give good advice.
That doesn’t mean that your sales reps should pretend that they’re not selling anything — of course they are.
To use Consultative Selling effectively, the first step in the sales process is deeply understanding the prospect’s pain points, needs, and goals. Your team shouldn’t try to make the sale too early.
Instead, they must spend time building trust and rapport so that both your salesperson and the prospect can be confident that they’re making the best possible purchase decision.
From there, it’s the sales rep’s job to guide the customer through the buying process as a trusted expert.
Consultative Selling works well when the customer is actively shopping for a solution, and they have plenty of options to choose from. Those options may be from competitors, but you may also need to guide a customer to choose from a variety of packages or variations in your product catalog.
This is another sales method that takes plenty of time and attention. Use it when you’re confident that your closed deals will be well worth the investment.
3. Conceptual Selling
As sales professionals, we’ve all heard the saying that customers don’t buy products; they buy solutions. Conceptual Selling leans into that solution selling approach to the point where you may not need to talk much about the product at all.
To use the Conceptual Selling method, your reps sell the concept of this product or service by building the story around how it solves problems and alleviates pain points.
This means that your sales team should deeply understand a prospect’s motivations and the problems they face. That includes the problem of the sales process itself — most people dislike long, drawn-out sales pitches.
The goal is to create a win-win scenario where your prospect feels heard, they’re enthusiastic about your offering, and they’re happy to buy.
Conceptual Selling is highly customer-centric and flexible. Each prospect has different needs, and your reps are empowered to adjust their selling approach to tell the right story to the right person.
So much flexibility makes Conceptual Selling a popular choice for a wide variety of sales teams. It layers well with other strategies and gives your reps plenty of autonomy to use their keen instincts.
4. The Challenger Sale
The Challenger sales methodology is a high-impact approach that centers on challenging the buyer. Your reps aim to get the buyer to a disruptive insight and then present your offering as a solution.
Rather than primarily seeking to understand the prospect, sales reps who use the Challenger Sale method are trying to educate the prospect.
Salespeople use these phases to move a Challenger prospect through the pipeline:
- The teaching point – Marketing or sales introduce the idea that there’s a real problem that the prospect might not know about yet.
- The warmer – The sales rep gets the prospect to relate to that problem.
- Reframing – The rep delivers the disruptive insight, which gets the prospect to think about that problem in a new way.
- Emotional connection – The salesperson discovers one of the prospect’s personal pain points and relates it to the insight.
- Introduce the solution – Once the problem is acknowledged and an emotional connection is made, the sales rep can show the prospect how a purchase would make their lives better.
This methodology works well when your target customer is not actively looking for a solution (and may not even know they have a problem), but you can still tell that story and demonstrate a clear advantage to buying from you.
Sales teams that work with new products, complex solutions, or an upgrade or add-on for a popular tool can use the Challenger Sale to great advantage. Any team that sells to a prospect that needs a lot of education before the sale should consider this approach.
5. The SPICED framework
The SPICED framework is a customer-centric framework for B2B sales teams. It was developed to help set up long-term relationships from a sale, so it focuses on achieving an ongoing impact over an immediate closing.
SPICED stands for:
- Situation – The details about your prospect, their background, and their needs.
- Pain – The problem that your prospect wants to solve with this purchase.
- Impact – How you can benefit your prospect’s business.
- Critical Event – The deadline for that impact to happen.
- Decision – The economic buyer and decision-making process.
Frameworks like SPICED are easy to adopt and standardize across a big sales team. If you do B2B sales and you want to get your entire team working on a cohesive, effective framework, this is a good choice.
It even works well for products that require individualized quoting.
However, SPICED may not be the best choice for long sales cycles or complex product offerings that require more education for the prospect.
6. SPIN Selling
SPIN selling is one of the oldest and most popular sales methodologies. You’re probably already familiar with it, especially if you work in B2B sales. SPIN stands for:
- Situation – The information-gathering phase.
- Problem – Identifying pain points and problems.
- Implication – Understanding why those problems need to be solved.
- Need Payoff – Leading the buyer to come to the conclusion that they need your solution to their problems.
The concept of SPIN selling comes from Neil Rackham, who literally wrote the book on this methodology in the late 80s. He advocates for salespeople to abandon hard selling techniques in favor of becoming a trusted advisor for their prospects.
To make this methodology work, your sales reps use a series of questions that focus heavily on understanding your B2B prospects and building trust over time.
SPIN selling works for a variety of sales teams and companies. It’s a simple enough strategy to be flexible, and you can layer it with other methodologies or systems to get the results that you want.
MEDDIC (and its sister framework MEDDPICC) is a sales framework primarily used for B2B lead qualification. The acronym stands for:
- Metrics – The prospect’s ROI expectations and how they will measure results.
- Economic buyer – The person who you work with to make the first decision, plus the multi-layered approval process.
- Decision criteria – The important technical and business criteria that will inform the buyer’s decision.
- Decision process – The process to get through all the layers of approval and make a final decision.
- Identify pain – The problems the prospect wants to solve, and how your solution helps them.
- Champion – The person within the prospect’s company who will advocate for your solution.
Sales reps use the MEDDIC sales process to decide whether or not a prospect is a good fit and worth pursuing.
At each phase, if the salesperson discovers that there’s a mismatch between your offering and the customer’s expectations, they can inform that prospect that it’s not a good fit and move on to work with better qualified leads.
Using a sales qualification framework like MEDDIC is a great move if you find that good deals have been slipping through the cracks while your reps focus on the wrong leads.
8. N.E.A.T. Selling
N.E.A.T. is another sales qualification framework for B2B sales. Where MEDDIC guides your sales reps through a structured set of discovery questions, N.E.A.T. is designed to fit with a more non-linear approach. It stands for:
- Need – How the prospect can benefit from your offering.
- Economic impact – The actual, quantifiable benefits the prospect can get from your offering.
- Access to authority – Whether or not you can talk to the decision-maker.
- Timeline – When the prospect wants or needs to make a decision.
N.E.A.T. places a strong emphasis on active listening, building trust with the prospect, and taking the time to empathize with and understand your potential customers. It works great for B2B sales teams that sell complicated products and have long sales cycles.
This sales methodology works for all aspects of the sales cycle, including upsells, cross-sells, and even retention efforts by your customer success team.
Like other lead qualification approaches, using N.E.A.T. allows your reps to move on from poorly qualified leads before spending too much time trying to push for a sale that will never happen.
The open-ended nature of this methodology can be either a benefit or a drawback depending on your team.
If you want to empower your reps to follow their instincts and pursue deeper relationships in their own way, it’s excellent. But if your team needs more guidance and structure to generate more consistent results, you might want to consider a framework with clearer steps.
9. Solution Selling
Solution Selling is one of the most straightforward and widely used sales methodologies for all kinds of teams. The basic idea is simple: a salesperson’s goal is to understand a prospect’s most painful problems and sell them the solution.
Most sales teams already employ this strategy in some way. The common advice to “sell benefits, not features,” is a prime example of Solution Selling.
To lean into this methodology, train your reps in empathy and discovery. You can only sell someone a solution if you understand their problems, and you can only understand their problems if you spend time asking questions that help you connect.
This methodology is popular because it works.
However, it’s often not enough on its own. Add another customer-centric sales methodology to your strategy to guide your reps more clearly.
10. Inbound Selling
Inbound Selling is popular among sales reps and companies alike because this methodology encourages customers to come to you.
Rather than dialing long lists of cold or warm leads, potential buyers seek out your sales team when they’re ready to start the purchase process.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? While every sales team would love to have customers beating down their door, achieving a healthy inbound sales strategy takes plenty of work.
Most sales teams with a strong inbound selling strategy work closely with their marketing teammates to create a lot of value for potential customers.
Prospects find this valuable content through search engines, social media, live events, and other online channels. As they engage with that content and express interest, sales reps can then reach out to continue the process.
Unlike outbound sales, which begins the relationship with a contact from a salesperson, inbound sales strategies begin building rapport, trust, and brand recognition with prospects before they even consider talking to sales.
By the time they speak with a rep, they’ve already answered many of their own questions and may even be resolved on purchasing soon.
Inbound Selling is a powerful strategy for all types of businesses, especially in competitive areas.
However, implementing an inbound strategy is time- and labor-intensive. You will likely need to hire one or more experts, and the results, though they may be impressive, may take many months to generate a return on your investment.
11. The Sandler Selling System
The Sandler Selling System aims to match the right buyer with the right solution. Like many of the other sales methodologies we’ve discussed in this guide so far, it’s a qualification framework that can help clean up your pipeline.
Sandler-trained sales reps ask lots of questions because they act more like consultants than salespeople. This builds trust with the prospect and helps the rep determine if a lead is qualified.
To sell with the Sandler sales methodology, reps start by building rapport and establishing a good relationship with the client. There’s no selling at this stage.
From there, the salesperson explains what’s going to happen in the buying process. Since there’s already a good relationship, the prospect should feel comfortable entering the sales cycle and sharing more about their needs.
Next, the sales rep and prospect fully explore pain points and potential solutions that the product can offer. This is the main qualification stage in the Sandler system. If there’s not a good match between the prospect’s biggest pain points and the solutions that you can offer, they don’t move forward in the sales process.
Conversations move on to budget, decisions, delivery, and post-sale care.
Teams that use the Sandler Selling System report better results, though many integrate this system with other methodologies. If you’re interested in solution selling or other customer-centric approaches, it’s worth exploring Sandler training.
12. SNAP Selling
SNAP Selling aims to shorten the sales cycle and help sales teams compete in marketplaces that are oversaturated with information. If your customers are frequently overwhelmed and tend to suffer from decision paralysis, this might be a great methodology to try.
The SNAP acronym is a little bit of a stretch. It stands for:
- Keep it Simple – Avoid overwhelming your already frazzled customers.
- Be iNvaluable – Position yourself as a go-to expert or trusted advisor.
- Always Align – Your business goals should line up with your customers’ needs. priorities, and beliefs.
- Raise Priorities – Keep important decisions top-of-mind for customers who are juggling multiple priorities.
Yeah, we know it’s messy, but that’s how Jill Konrath named the system.
Another major component of SNAP is the three decisions. First, the buyer decides whether or not you have access and can make your pitch. Second, the buyer must decide whether or not they’re willing to make a change from their current status quo. Third, the buyer chooses which solution they’re going to pick (hopefully yours).
SNAP is a great methodology for fast-paced sales teams who need to make the sale quickly to edge out other competitors.
It’s not so good when your prospects tend to need more education and want to take their time making a decision, though.
13. CHAMP Selling
CHAMP Selling is a lead qualification system similar to BANT, but with the priorities adjusted to be more customer-centric. The acronym stands for:
- Challenges – The pain points or problems your prospect wants to solve.
- Authority – The person or people who make the final purchase decision.
- Money – Whether or not the prospect has the budget for this purchase.
- Priority – How urgently the prospect needs to solve their problem.
Going through the lead qualification process in this order can quickly filter out any prospects who aren’t a good fit for your offering. If you can’t solve their problems, there’s no point in proceeding further.
The sense of urgency from the prospect is the least important qualification factor in this methodology. Companies that don’t mind longer sales cycles as long as the deal eventually closes will appreciate that.
CHAMP is popular among teams that liked the simplicity of BANT, but found that the priority of qualification factors was not aligned with their business strategy.
14. Miller Heiman Strategic Selling
Miller Heiman Strategic Selling is a sales methodology specifically designed for enterprise sales. It helps reps build long-term relationships and navigate the selling process when there are multiple stakeholders and an extended sales cycle.
At its core, the Miller Heiman Strategic Selling methodology is a type of solution selling. The sales rep uses a detailed strategic analysis worksheet as a guide to discover details about the potential buyer and compare them to your business goals.
This is one of the more complex sales methodologies out there, and since it’s designed to be used in particularly complex deals, that makes sense.
Implementing this methodology will take extensive time and training. If you’re looking for a complete system to help you win more big deals in your enterprise sales strategy, it’s worth investigating further.
15. Customer-centric Selling
Customer-centric Selling is a familiar concept to most sales teams. We’ve already talked about it in several of the other systems in this guide.
As a standalone methodology, Customer-centric Selling simply means that your sales reps stay focused on what the potential buyer wants, needs, and feels throughout the sales process.
Your role as a sales professional is to find out what the customer wants and help them achieve it. It’s not to make sure that the prospect knows everything about your offering, but instead to make sure that you know as much as possible about them.
Sales reps aim to help prospects solve their problems, even if that means telling them that their product isn’t the best fit.
In the modern marketplace, customer-centric selling makes a lot of sense. Buyers are more informed than ever, and it’s easy and fast to compare you with your competitors.
This is more of an idea than a clear methodology, which means you can easily apply the concept of customer-centric selling to any system you already use. For most sales teams, simply focusing on the customer is not enough to make a difference. You should consider which other sales methodology will work best for your business strategy.
16. The Value Selling Framework
The Value Selling framework is another well-known methodology that most sales reps have used at some point in their careers. If you’ve ever instructed a rep to “sell benefits, not features,” then you’ve used the Value Selling Framework.
This approach connects your sales strategy with the things buyers actually want.
While you’re proud that you leveraged a brand new technology to create a feature that your competitors don’t have, your prospects don’t care about that triumph. What they do care about is how that new feature could give them a competitive advantage.
Much like using customer-centric selling as a core methodology, the Value Selling framework can and should be layered on top of another system that guides your sales reps more clearly.
17. Gap Selling
Gap Selling is a sales methodology in which your sales team understands where your prospects currently are and then helps those potential buyers see where they could be using your solution.
It’s a particularly powerful approach when your ideal customer doesn’t necessarily have a clear problem they want to solve, but could still benefit from your offering.
Instead of discovering pain points and showing the prospect how your product or service fixes those concerns, sales reps paint a picture of how much better the prospect’s life will be after they make a purchase. In other words, the value is in the gap between the prospect’s current state and their potential future state.
The Gap Selling methodology is designed to work when it doesn’t make sense for your reps to sell according to pain points. It’s probably not the best approach if your customers are largely inbound or are motivated by solving specific problems.
Make sure your team follows your sales methodology
As you choose one or more of these sales methodologies to introduce to your team, you expect to get results, right?
The truth is this:
Choosing the best sales methodology for your team is the easiest part. All of the systems mentioned in this guide have been tried and proven effective by hundreds of teams in a variety of industries.
The hard part is getting your sales team to change their habits and follow your new system consistently.
Most sales leaders know to follow these first steps to introduce a new methodology to the sales floor:
- Communicate – Tell your sales reps about the change. Explain what methodology you want to use and why you’re shifting to a new system.
- Offer training – Teach your team how to use your chosen methodology.
- Coach as needed – Some sales professionals will pick up the new system right away, and others will need some additional one-on-one coaching to get it.
These steps aren’t enough to ensure that everyone on the team will follow your new methodology consistently, though.
Some people will embrace the new system. Others will fall into old habits. Many reps will use some combination of the new methodology, the old system, and the things they personally prefer.
Consistency across your entire team is key to your sales success. Here are a couple of tips to help make sure all of your sales reps adhere to the new sales methodology:
Create templates for discovery, follow-ups, and more
Perhaps the best way to get the entire sales team on the same page is by using templates.
When you introduce a sales tool that uses templates for discovery questions, follow-ups, and other standard pipeline tasks, the easiest thing for a sales rep to do is to follow the flow that you designed. Your preferred sales process becomes the path of least resistance.
Templates are especially valuable if you use a more complex system like MEDDIC or Miller Heiman Strategic Selling. They make it much less likely that your sales reps will miss steps during a long sales process.
You can use Weflow’s note templates feature to ensure reps follow your sales methodology. All you need to do is set up a template once, and then your team can reuse it over and over.
Plus, all notes created with Weflow can be synced to Salesforce automatically.
Here’s how to create a note template in Weflow:
Log in to Weflow, and then click the Notes menu item.
From here, click the Use template button in the upper right corner of the screen.
Click the +New template button in the pop-up window that shows up.
Add a name for your template, and fill out the note section.
Finally, click the blue Use template button.
Use deal signals to keep your pipeline on track
Once your team has made the shift to a new methodology, it’s your job as a sales leader to make sure that you’re using the system effectively to move deals through the pipeline.
The best way to do that is by using deal signals to help your reps prioritize which deals to work on. Your chosen sales methodology will help you set those priorities and decide which prospects need immediate attention to move the deal forward and which can afford to wait a little longer.
Ideally, you should use a tool that automatically tracks deal signals and prompts your reps to take the next action.
Weflow’s deal signals feature can help your reps understand which deals need attention based on set criteria (e.g., close date overdue, no deal activity for more than two weeks, or close date pushed out too many times).
Then, reps can take appropriate action to keep deals moving forward and prevent them from falling through.
There’s no single right or wrong methodology for most sales teams, so don’t stress when you’re selecting a system to try.
Remember, too, that you aren’t obligated to follow any of these sales methodologies exactly. Feel free to borrow pieces that you like from one system while you structure your approach with another. The vast majority of sales teams combine methodologies to create a custom approach that works for their unique circumstances.
No matter what methodology you use, stay open to feedback from your sales reps. As the people using this approach every day, they can tell you what works best and what might need some further thought.
Finally, don’t be afraid to use good sales tools to keep your team consistent. Applying an imperfect system consistently will yield better results than using a perfect system some of the time.
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