- SELL SMARTER
7 Successful Sales Methodologies Commercial Services Sales Teams Swear By (and When to Use Them)
Your company’s sales methodology serves as the blueprint for how you interact with your prospects and customers. It codifies the concrete steps your sales team will follow to achieve your business goals and makes it possible to review, refine, and replicate successful sales processes.
What Makes a Sales Methodology Successful?
There are no one-size-fits-all sales methodologies; what works wonders for one sales team may fall completely flat for another. Success has as much to do with how well it fits with an organization as it does with the details of the methodology itself.
Choosing a methodology that will be successful for your organization means finding one that aligns with your:
- Brand philosophy: Choosing a methodology that meets customer expectations of your brand will build feelings of authenticity.
- Product positioning: Customers will expect more personal attention and guidance when considering a premium product than they will with an entry-level alternative.
- Organizational strengths: While a giant enterprise organization will have more resources available to invest in each sale, a smaller niche or boutique company may find more success with methodologies that focus more on flexibility or speed instead.
- Customer needs: The size, type, structure, and expertise of clients will all play an essential role in determining the success of a sales methodology.
While there are many sales methodologies to choose from, we have selected some of the most relevant to Commercial Services sales teams and divided them into three categories: benefit-centric methodologies, relationship-based methodologies, and customer-qualifying methodologies.
Benefit-Centric Sales Methodologies
Benefit-centric sales methodologies focus on promoting the value of a product or service. Sales teams choose this approach because they are the most straightforward sales strategy and are often the easiest to implement.
Conceptual Selling: For Selling Intangible Benefits
Conceptual Selling is based on the notion that prospects make buying decisions based on their concept of how a product or service will help them reach their goals.
As a sales rep, your role is to guide customer relationships through three phases:
- Acquiring information: Build a deeper understanding of your prospect’s goals and how they believe they’ll achieve those goals.
- Providing information: Explain how your product or service can help them reach these goals by aligning its benefits with their goals.
- Getting commitment: Ensure a shared commitment to the sale by tying up any loose ends and overcoming any uncertainties or doubts the prospect has.
Conceptual Selling is most effective when selling products or services with intangible benefits such as training, managed services, or consulting.
For example, say you are trying to sell security equipment to an apartment complex that has been troubled by a string of break-ins. While the hidden cameras they are asking for might help them catch the criminals next time, adding visible cameras and floodlights will help solve the problem of residents not feeling safe in their own homes.
Gap Selling: For Selling the Solution to a Problem
The Gap Selling methodology focuses on identifying—and resolving—the gap between a prospect’s ideal state and their current one. In other words, rather than explaining the features of a product and hoping the prospect has a use for it, you should identify a problem they’re facing and explain how the product can solve it.
Your role is to make the customer aware of your value by identifying, defining, and explaining their current state, their ideal state, and the gap between the two:
- Current state: What are the realities of the prospect’s current situation? What problems are they struggling with?
- Ideal state: Where could they be? What is keeping them from achieving this goal? What is the benefit of reaching their ideal state?
- The gap: How big is the gap between the current and ideal states? Is the gap big enough to warrant the solution you’re offering? How much would the solution cost in terms of money, time, and resources? What is the true value of closing the gap?
This methodology is highly effective for selling to prospects who may not be fully aware of the gravity—or the existence—of a problem.
For example, a prospect unaware of the potential legal risk of not upgrading their fire safety system may not be interested in buying a new system, but they will be much more motivated to do so once they understand the legal consequences of not upgrading.
Relationship-Based Sales Methodologies
Unlike benefit-centric sales methodologies, relationship-based methodologies focus on building a long-term, consultative relationship with a buyer. Ideally, you become a trusted advisor in addition to a seller.
Challenger Sale: For Selling to Informed Buyers
The Challenger Sale methodology is based on the idea that “the best salespeople don’t just build relationships with customers. They challenge them.” The key difference between the Challenger method and other methodologies is that you don’t simply agree with everything the customer says or give in to their every demand or objection. Instead, you lead the customer to see the bigger picture by challenging their preconceived ideas.
The six steps of the Challenger Sale model are:
- The Warmer: Demonstrate relevance by proving to your prospect that you understand their business, their problem, and their goals.
- The Reframing: What the prospect sees as a problem is often just a symptom of a larger issue. Reframe the conversation by showing them the root cause of their pain.
- The Rational Drowning: Support your reframing with indisputable facts and data.
- The Emotional Impact: Bring the conversation back to the prospect . Use relevant examples to help them understand how the problem affects them personally.
- The Value Proposition: Before introducing the solution, emphasize the value that a successful solution will have—as well as the cost of inaction.
- The Solution: Once you have earned the prospect’s trust, identified the true problem, and have shown them the value of solving that problem, it’s finally time to introduce the solution. By this time, you shouldn’t need to do much selling because the prospect should immediately see the value of the product.
The Challenger Sale methodology is effective in situations where high-quality information related to your product category is readily available, giving prospects preconceived ideas of what is the best solution for their problem.
For example, a property manager for an outdoor mall contacts your solar energy company and says they want to install solar panels to help offset the costs of lighting on their property. Even though they have researched solar panels (preconceived idea), you may need to push back and explain that unfortunately, due to regulations in their area, the utility company would not credit them for any excess energy generated by their panels (rational drowning). In effect, this excess energy would be lost—so you could recommend the addition of high-density backup batteries to store excess energy (value proposition/solution).
SNAP Selling: For Selling to Busy Customers
The SNAP Selling methodology has a particular type of prospect in mind: busy customers with significant needs and very little time to listen to sales pitches.
This methodology is based on four central principles designed to help you connect with busy prospects in the best ways to fit their needs:
- Simple: Boil the message down to the essential information and leave everything else out.
- iNvaluable: Build a relationship where the prospect trusts and values your expertise.
- Aligned: Ensure that everything you do is aligned with the prospect and their needs.
- Priority: Identify and focus on the most important decisions first.
These guiding principles can help you be more effective at breaking through the noise to connect with your prospect, provide them with valuable knowledge, and make the process of saying “yes” as easy as possible for them.
Say your company sells custom lighting solutions for professional sports stadiums, concert venues, and amusement parks. Your contact is a facilities manager who, along with needing a new elevator, is also dealing with a concessions provider that just fell through, a waste management company pushing to raise prices, and a security team needing additional resources. To make your message a priority, you need a clean, crisp, and coherent sales pitch that includes a summary of the key facts about the problem, your product, and its benefit — and absolutely nothing else. By adjusting your message delivery strategy, you’re not just getting your pitch in front of a busy contact. You’re also assuring them that you understand their time is important, which is a great first step to building a solid relationship.
The Sandler System: For Selling a Partnership
The Sandler Selling System reimagines the sales representative’s role as that of advisor and partner, who cares more about the overall success of the relationship and the partner than any individual proposal or sale. The Sandler Selling System focuses on building long-term relationships, aligning with client goals, and closing mutually beneficial deals.
In this system, your focus is to identify challenges, blockers, and misalignments between your product and the prospect’s goals as early in the qualification process as possible to avoid delays and setbacks later in the relationship.
The basic steps in the Sandler Selling process are:
- Building a productive relationship based on mutual trust
- Clearly defining expectations for each party
- Identifying prospect needs and pain points
- Ensuring the prospect’s budget is adequate to solve their problem
- Determining the prospect’s decision-making process
- Proposing a product mix that meets their needs and restraints
- Closing the deal
The Sandler methodology can be customized to work in various industries and situations and is ideal for sales organizations looking to build long-term, consultative sales relationships.
Companies that offer elevator installation and inspection services might find the Sandler System a great choice. By nurturing a productive ongoing relationship with customers who need regular inspection of elevator equipment, you will be at the top of the list when the company needs to modernize or install new elevators on their property.
Customer-Qualifying Sales Methodologies
Not every sales team needs to invest time and resources into reaching every possible prospect. It can often be better to focus sales efforts on a select group of high-value candidates. And for organizations in exceptionally competitive markets, the ability to correctly choose which candidates will lead to sales and which will leave the sales rep empty-handed can mean the difference between ending the year on a winning streak and closing the books in the red.
For companies in these situations, customer-qualifying sales methodologies are an excellent choice. They rely on identifying and targeting high-value and high-probability prospects and focusing the sales team’s efforts on the leads that are most likely to produce a positive return.
MEDDIC: For Selling to the Most Valuable Targets
The MEDDIC sales methodology, created by the sales development department of Parametric Technologies Corporation in the 1990s, is designed as a structured, data-driven model you can use to operate more efficiently by identifying which prospects are worth the time and resources required to make the sale. Sales teams quantify each lead based on three criteria: the prospect’s potential value, the likelihood of a positive response, and the investment required to reach a sale.
The acronym MEDDIC stands for:
- Metrics: Identify a quantifiable goal or outcome that the prospect could reach due to a sale.
- Economic Buyer: Determine who within the organization is ultimately responsible for the purchase decision and the initial contact and the gatekeepers required to contact this decision-maker.
- Decision Criteria: Understand the prospect’s criteria for making a decision—and the weight each has on the final decision.
- Decision Process: Understand what the decision-making process will look like, including who will need to give approvals, who will need to be consulted or informed, and the timeline for the decision.
- Identify Pain: Pinpoint what the prospect’s problem or goal is, how your product or service will meet these needs, and the alternative outcome for the prospect if they decide not to purchase.
- Champion: Find a point of contact within the target organization who would benefit from a successful sale and advocate the deal from within the organization.
This method can be highly successful for organizations that have many potential targets but, either due to a highly complex and time-consuming sales process or to a lack of resources, are not able to target every possible lead. The MEDDIC methodology allows these organizations to qualify leads and identify where the sales team’s efforts would most likely produce positive outcomes.
If your company has a product with a long or complex sales process that requires a high investment of both time and resources, you may find the MEDDIC methodology a great fit. Your sales team can identify potential customers and filter out those least likely to purchase. As you grow on a tight budget, you can focus on the prospects most likely to sign a deal. Once your sales team has qualified and prioritized your potential customers, you will know whom to target to get the most out of your outreach efforts.
N.E.A.T. Selling: For Selling Your Product Where Its Value Is Highest
The N.E.A.T. Selling methodology, like MEDDIC, is focused on identifying where the sales team’s efforts would produce the most value for the company. However, rather than focusing on which prospects are most likely to say yes based on the internal characteristics of the prospect, the N.E.A.T. Selling methodology focuses on which prospects would get the most value out of the company’s product or service.
The N.E.A.T. Selling methodology stands for:
- Need: Identify prospects with pain points whose core causes can be solved by your product or service.
- Economic Impact: Highlight the overall financial impact of the pain point by determining the difference between current trends and potential outcomes if the pain point were resolved.
- Access to Authority: Understand who has the ultimate responsibility for making decisions and what steps the sales rep needs to take to reach that person.
- Timeline: Calculate the urgency of the solution by determining the deadline when a decision needs to be made to avoid negative consequences.
The N.E.A.T. methodology is suited for sales teams with products whose value may not be static over time or whose value depends heavily on the buyer’s circumstances.
N.E.A.T. Selling would be a good choice for a company that offers specialized waste management services for a premium price. They know that there are a lot of potential properties that need waste-disposal services, but only want to focus on prospects who would be willing to pay a premium for the removal of specialized waste such as medical, chemical, or other hazardous material.
Map Your Perfect Sales Strategy With Market Insights from Convex
Atlas, the sales-intelligence platform from Convex, provides unique insight into sales performance and market trends for the commercial service sales teams. It makes it easy to identify the best sales methodology for your organization and helps you to refine and improve your sales processes.
Your sales department can use detailed sales performance data to streamline your sales methodology by identifying what makes top performers stand out, and where training and support are needed to ensure every sales team member can succeed with your chosen methodology.
In addition, the unparalleled access to commercial property market data and analysis allows you to update your sales strategy to keep up with changes in your target market—such as the average size, quantity, or type of prospects in your area.
For even more information on building the best sales team possible, check out our webinar on How to Build a High-Performing Commercial Services Sales Team.
Ellin McHarg is Principal Copywriter at Convex.
Originally published on February 24, 2022 Updated on August 1, 2022