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Top 6 Sales Methodologies for Closing Complex Deals

7 minutes read

A sales methodology defines the “how” of selling. It takes your sales goals and turns them into actionable steps like, “Ask your prospect this question at that stage”. It provides a framework that guides how a salesperson should approach each step within the sales process.

Sales Methodology bridges the gap between what needs to be done and how to do it.

Every organization needs to develop a unique sales method based on its market, vertical, products, and industry position. This ensures that the organizations and the sales teams hit their goals every month.

Sales methodologies can be different for different organizations. What works for one organization might not work for the other. But, how can you choose the methodology that works best for your organization?

Let’s explore some popular sales methodologies and see if they’ll work for you.

1. SPIN Selling

In his SPIN Selling book, Neil Rackham popularised the SPIN sell.

SPIN is an acronym for the four types of questions salespeople should ask their clients:

  • S: Situation

  • P: Problem

  • I: Implication

  • N: Need-Payoff

These questions address the buyer’s pain points and challenges. They help in building rapport between the buyer and the seller.

Situation Question: To understand a prospect’s current situation.

Problem Question: To get to the core of the prospect’s issue.

Implication questions: Probe the prospect to think about the consequences of not solving the problem.

Need-payoff questions: Prompt the prospect to consider how the situation would change if their problem was solved.

Asking the right questions could speed up the sales process. Whereas the wrong questions could stall it or even halt it completely. Here are some example questions of SPIN sell in the context of a sales training platform:

  1. How do you maintain an overview of how your individual sales reps are performing?

  2. Was the amount of training needed to get your reps up and running with your CRM ever a problem?

  3. If training on your CRM is costly and time-consuming, what does that mean for new reps when they start?

  4. If you could cut the amount of time spent training new staff on your CRM, what impact would that have?

The intention here is that instead of just telling the prospect why it’s a good idea to purchase your product or service, you could guide them to realize these on their own.

2. Challenger Sale

Co-authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson started “The Challenger Sale” research which breaks the sellers into 5 categories:

  • Relationship builders

  • Hard Workers

  • Lone Wolves

  • Reactive Problem Solvers

  • And Challengers

According to Dixon and Adamson’s research, challengers are most successful today, given the prevalence of large sales in enterprises from them. This one group represented 40% of the top-performing reps according to their study.

So what makes challengers so effective at selling?

Challengers follow a teach-tailor-take control approach to selling. Instead of unraveling the needs and demands of the customers, they first teach their prospects– not about their product or service but about larger business problems, new ideas, and astute insights. Next, they tailor their communication to their prospect. Finally, they take control of the sale by not being afraid to push back on their customer. They focus more on the end goal rather than being liked. The challengers also strive to impart their wisdom into the other four types of buyers.

Since its inception in 2011, this sales methodology has proven to be quite a successful strategy. It is widely popular amongst highly technical companies(eg. Software companies) with large sales forces.

3. N.E.A.T. Selling

The Harris Consulting Group and Sales Hacker developed this famous sales methodology that helps salespeople consider 4 major aspects while selling– Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline.

The ‘N’ in N.E.A.T. stands for core needs. Rather than focusing on surface-level pain, the creators urge salespeople to delve deeply into their prospect’s challenges. How will this product matter to them as an individual and the organization?

‘E’ represents economic impact. Don’t simply present your solution’s ROI – help the buyer understand the economic impact they’re currently on track to realize versus the impact they’ll see if they make a change.

‘A’ is access to authority. You probably won’t get to speak with the CFO, but can your champion can speak to the CFO on your behalf? Just as importantly, will she?

’T’, or Timeline, refers to the compelling event forcing your prospect to make a decision. If there aren’t negative consequences to missing this date, it’s not a true deadline.

4. Conceptual Selling

Conceptual selling is founded on the idea customers don’t buy a product or a service – they buy their concept of a solution that the offering represents. With that in mind, founders Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman urge salespeople not to lead with a pitch, but instead seek to uncover the prospect’s concept of their product and understand their decision process.

The authors encourage salespeople to ask smart questions that fall into five categories:

  • Confirmation questions reaffirm information.

  • New information questions clarify the prospect’s concept of the product or service and explore what they’d like to achieve.

  • Attitude questions seek to understand a prospect on a personal level, and discover their connection to the project.

  • Commitment questions inquire after a prospect’s investment in the project. Basic issue questions raise potential problems.

This sales methodology places a heavy emphasis on listening, and divides the sales process into three stages: Getting information, giving information, and getting commitment.

This makes all the transactions a win-win for both the prospect and the salesperson.

5. SNAP Selling

SNAP selling is a sales methodology that aims to bring salespeople to the prospect’s level.

SNAP is an acronym that encompasses four directives for sellers:

  • Keep it Simple

  • Be Invaluable

  • Always Align

  • And, Raise Priorities

With these principles in mind, salespeople can more effectively reach busy prospects with valuable knowledge, connect what they’re selling with what’s most important to the potential client, and make it easy for them to buy.

While most salespeople only think there’s one decision involved in a deal – whether the prospect buys or not – author Jill Konrath actually identifies three critical decisions. First is allowing access, second is the choice to move away from the status quo, and the third is changing resources. With these mini decision milestones in mind, salespeople can more effectively keep deals on track.


MEDDIC is a qualification process for complex and enterprise sales. MEDDIC stands for:

  • M: Metrics

  • E: Economic buyer

  • D: Decision criteria

  • D: Decision process

  • I: Identify pain

  • C: Champion

To find the answers, ask yourself and/or your prospect:

  • Metrics: What’s the economic impact of the situation?

  • Economic buyer: Who controls the appropriate budget?

  • Decision criteria: What are the formal evaluation criteria the organization is using to pick a vendor?

  • Decision process: How will the organization pick a vendor; i.e. what are the specific stages?

  • Identify pain: What is the trigger event and financial consequence of the problem?

  • Champion: Who is selling on your behalf?

Among these 6 popular methodologies, pick the ones that are right for your team. Implementing these methodologies will help in getting your entire sales staff on the same page. It will equip your sales reps with all the right tools to excel in finding and obtaining new clients and customers.

Searching for techniques to overcome sales objections?

Read: 10 Effective Techniques to overcome Sales Objections

Want to learn about the common buyer personas that sales reps often come across?

Learn about the 6 buyer personas and how to train your team to sell to them

How SmartWinnr can Help?

SmartWinnr is an easy-to-use mobile platform to help your sales teams stay up-to-date with the latest product knowledge, market information, competitor information, selling techniques, and more.

Organizations all over the world are using SmartWinnr to empower their sales teams.

Interested to learn how? Talk to us today!

Published on Mon Sep 9 2019

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