What Is a Sales Methodology?


As long as the sales industry has been around, people have been trying to perfect it. The evolution of this led to the development of many sales methodologies, or strategies to use to improve the sales process. Defining a sales methodology goes much deeper than this, of course, and choosing the right one can make or break the success of any sales team. 

Xerox developed one of the first known sales methodologies in the 1970s, known as the Needs Satisfaction method. Essentially, its goal was to assist the sales reps by providing them with a roadmap to navigate their highly competitive industry. This approach was so successful that it also became profitable for Xerox—they sold it to many other companies as a “Professional Selling Skills” solution. 

Some used Xerox’s method out of the box and without question. Others found ways to tweak and improve the methodology to better suit their business or industry needs, which started the ever-growing market of sales methodologies and strategies with tons of competition all claiming to have the best solutions. 

The purpose of a sales methodology 

One of the fundamental elements of a sales methodology is that it empowers sales employees to perform at peak levels by utilizing proven approaches to identify customer pain points and solve problems through sales. Most approaches are based on psychological concepts and field-tested concepts that were all fully vetted by their creators. 

Your sales methodology is the actionable way that the sales process happens. It’s your how-to guide for turning prospects into repeat customers and continuing to drive new business for the organization. If a sales methodology is going to be effective, it needs to be wholly embraced and universally adopted across the organization. It also must provide sufficient training and advice for actionable, scalable development and sales results. 

In addition to the purpose, there are also several benefits to be had:

  • Improved hiring and training 
  • Process clarification 
  • Streamlined sales calls and interactions
  • A focused approach that aligns with the organization’s values and mission
  • Guaranteed consistency for clients 

Having a chosen methodology can keep everyone on the same page and turn an otherwise-chaotic sales process into a streamlined, efficient experience for both sales reps and clients. 

How to choose a sales methodology 

No one methodology works better than another for all businesses. There are some designed for specific industries, as well as some approaches designed specifically to address the areas where a company may be lacking in its own strategies. Some companies want to forego the adoption of a sales methodology because they think they are either outdated or unhelpful, but the reality is that these methods exist for a reason; because they work. 

Every business should learn about different sales methodologies and figure out which one they want to adopt. To ensure that you choose the best sales methodology, here are some things to consider. 

What are your sales goals?

This isn’t just about numbers. Yes, the numbers matter, but to choose the right sales methodology, you have to think about what your goals are with the sales process. What do you want to do for clients? How do you want to address their pain points and present your solution? What are your team’s goals related to conversions, sales, etc.? 

What kind of clients do you interact with?

Some of the sales methods are more effective for different types of clients or industries. A high-level selling methodology might be great for an executive sales team, for example, but it could be more prohibitive than not for a sales team that deals with lower-end products or a lower level of professional client. Think about this when making your decision. 

What do your clients want?

Typically, you’ll want an end-to-end experience that allows clients to educate themselves, shop online, and take care of their own needs. They may also want to engage with your sales team, but that shouldn’t be the only way that they can get things done. Incorporate this into your sales methodology selection and you’ll guarantee that you choose the right one for your client base. 

Trial and Error

Finally, don’t be afraid to try something. If it doesn’t work, you can always try another. There are dozens of sales methodologies out there today to choose from and you’re sure to find at least one that helps your sales team get results. Test out a few different methods first and see which ones you like best. You can even ask for your team’s input so that you can get more engagement than if you just hand them more training. 

Types of sales methodologies 

Within this category of sales tools, several different approaches are taken. Many of the newest and most effective sales methodologies focus on the customer, but they need to be cultivated and developed for all the different models and verticals. A few of the most common include:

  • Inbound selling
  • Conceptual selling
  • SNAP selling
  • Target account selling
  • Value selling
  • The challenger sale
  • Customer-centric selling
  • N.E.A.T. Selling™
  • SPIN Selling 
  • The Sandler Selling Method 
  • ValueSelling Framework 

Each of these methodologies has its own concepts, guidelines, and best practices. They come with different approaches, and some even work better for one industry or another. The more generic options like conceptual and customer-centric selling leave more room for customization, while the tried-and-true selling methods that are pre-packaged like the Sandler Selling Method and SPIN Selling have very specific steps, best practices, and guidelines,

While you’re sorting out the sales, who’s handling the leads?

If you’re busy selecting and training people on a new sales methodology, you’re going to need a little extra support. That includes adding a 24/7 answering service, and a partnership with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can give you that and so much more. 

In addition to making sure that you never miss a lead, we’ll also handle things like lead intake and appointment scheduling. If you want a little extra help, we can even assist with outreach campaigns to get the leads in the first place. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai. 


Sales Tips
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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