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  • Greg Harper

Does Your Company Need a Sales Process or Sales Methodology?

Does my company need a sales process? Is it the same as sales methodology?

A sales methodology is often confused with the sales process. While closely related, the two are distinct.

What is a Sales Process?

The sales process consists of the systematic steps your sales team takes to move a prospect from the early stages to a closed deal. It’s largely about developing a relationship with the customer as you ask questions, educate them, and provide value. The process generally follows the same pattern at any organization, and each step is essential for a successful sale.

Keep in mind that a sales process is different from a sales methodology. While the process is a high-level overview of the steps to be completed in a sale, the methodology guides the approach a salesperson takes in executing these steps. There are a variety of sales methodologies your team can use, including challenger selling, solution selling, consultative selling, and inbound selling.

While each organization’s sales process will look a little different, the typical sales process will have 5-10 steps, see example below:

  • Prospecting

  • Qualification

  • Meeting

  • Needs discovery

  • Proposal

  • Overcoming objectives

  • Negotiating

  • Closing

These stages show sales reps what direction they need to go and what steps come next as they lead prospects through the sales funnel. Having all members of your sales team use the same process has many benefits, mainly an efficient and effective team.

Sales methodology: A sales methodology is the model for how to execute a particular stage in the sales process. Where the sales process outlines the broad steps in the prospect’s journey, your methodology gives you the strategy or approach for certain stages.

Some methodologies are tailored specifically to a certain stage of the sales process. Others guide your overall priorities in the selling process. The sales model you should adopt will depend on your organization’s process, culture, and values—and may even change or evolve as your company grows.

Why You Need a Sales Methodology

The right methodology is a powerful tool for streamlining the buyer’s journey, increasing efficiency and consistency across the sales organization, and growing sales.

A sales methodology arms sales teams with numerous benefits:

  • Strategies to evaluate and navigate sales opportunities and challenges

  • Tools and best practices to improve success rates

  • A scalable process

  • Consistency across the sales organization

A report by CSO Insights found that organizations with a solid sales process and knowledge of the various methodologies had higher rates of quota attainment.

Top Sales Methodologies

There are many sales methodologies to choose from, here are a few examples in order to help you understand what a sales methodology is.

Challenger Sales

The Challenger Sales methodology is an approach where the sales rep actively educates the customer, tailors a solution for the customer, and takes control of the conversation.

In today’s selling environment, prospects are much more educated by the time they connect with a salesperson. That means that sales reps need to be prepared to not only address their prospects’ concerns but also educate them on the available products and solutions available.

Challenger reps dig deep to understand the client’s industry and unique pain points so they can provide further insights to the client. This allows them to position themselves as trusted advisors and deliver more tailored solutions.

SPIN Selling

The SPIN method was designed by Neil Rackham in 1988 based on research from 35,000 sales calls. SPIN selling helps reps ask the right questions to identify how best to serve and, ultimately, sell to the client.

SPIN is an acronym that outlines the four main types of questions sales reps should ask their prospects:

  • Situation: Exploratory questions that help reps understand the client and the current business climate. They establish context for the discussion and guide the sales rep’s approach to the rest of the sale. ​​

  • Problem: Problem questions help the rep identify opportunities (i.e., problems to solve and gaps to fill). These questions help you discover your prospect’s key pain points and give you the opportunity to hone in on the value your product or service delivers in those areas.

  • Implication: Once you know the problem(s), you can clarify what the implications are for not solving it. This helps reps customize their sales pitch and instill urgency in the prospect as they realize what will happen if they don’t solve the problem (i.e., buy from you).

  • Need-Payoff: Need-payoff questions help your prospects discover and explain your product’s benefits themselves. Questions like “Would X make it easier to ____?” or “Would Y have a significant impact on your [performance/profits/etc.]?” help you determine your buyer’s interest and transition smoothly to the benefits and value of your solution.

Sandler Selling System

The Sandler sales methodology was developed by David Sandler in 1967 and remains a popular and effective sales framework today. The Sandler Selling System emphasizes customer qualification and relationship building. The idea is to position the sales rep as a trusted advisor rather than an aggressive salesperson.

The basic steps of the Sandler model are:

  • Build the relationship.

  • Qualify the opportunity.

  • Close the sale.

As the rep talks with the prospect, they focus more on listening and asking the right questions to understand what the prospect’s pain points are, who the decision-makers are, and what their budget is. By getting all this information out in the open early on, the sales rep can more accurately evaluate the quality of the opportunity and develop a solution that is mutually beneficial.

SNAP Selling

SNAP selling aims to address the issue of too much information and too little time for customers to make decisions. In this fast-paced selling environment, salespeople need to get right to the heart of the issues.

To do this, SNAP follows four principles:

  • S: Keep it simple. Reduce the complexity and effort in the decision-making process to make it easy for prospects to seal the deal.

  • N: Be iNvaluable. Highlight and demonstrate the value your solution brings to stand out from the crowd of other options competing for your prospect.

  • A: Always align. Keep your conversations and solutions aligned with the prospect’s goals and needs so you remain relevant.

  • P: Raise priorities. Create urgency around your solution and demonstrate why the prospect should prioritize this issue.

Gap Selling

This methodology is all about the space between a buyer’s current state and future state—the gap that is at the heart of every sale and represents the value to the buyer and seller. GAP selling focuses on selling more by helping customers get from where they currently are to where they want to be. It is problem-centric rather than product-centric, meaning you put the buyer’s problems first and then determine whether your product can help.

As Keenan says, “People don’t buy products, they buy outcomes.”

Inbound Selling

In the age of information, buyers are much more educated about their options and have often done research before they even talk to a salesperson. This shift in the prospect-sales dynamic has given rise to the inbound selling methodology.

Inbound sales focus on bringing prospects to you (rather than conducting targeted outreach). Inbound salespeople focus on understanding their prospects’ pain points and buyer’s journey, educating them and acting as a trusted consultant, and tailoring their solutions to their unique context.


These are just a few of the proven sales methodologies companies have used with great success for many years. The bottom line is that effective sales forces do more than simply get in front of prospects and quote. If your company does not have a sales process or does not know what methodology is right for your solution using reach out and schedule a free 30-minute discovery call with Lakeshore Sales Advisors.

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