Find anyone who might possibly be a customer. Ask them to buy something. Insist they make a purchase, even if they waver at first. Leave them alone if they absolutely refuse.
This, unfortunately, is the sales methodology in many organizations, even if it’s not quite described that way. And although you may not have noticed, the first letter of the first word in each of those sentences spells something. It’s FAIL — and it’s a useful acronym to remind reps why they need to sell in a more thoughtful and strategic way.
Sales training can be one of the most overlooked areas of professional development, particularly if someone has established a strong track record in their previous sales job. It might be assumed you can simply assign them a territory, give them the key account contacts and let them loose.
As organizations mature, however, they often decide it’s better to bring some consistency in the way selling is conducted. Certain types of customers might respond better to a particular approach than others. Reps can be more easily coached if the sales methodology has been standardized. It also means the information collected and managed in a CRM like Sales Cloud can be used more effectively.
Fortunately, organizations don’t necessarily need to develop a sales methodology from scratch. Many seasoned sales pros, consultants and other experts have created frameworks that could be customized to a firm’s specific needs. Use this as your cheat sheet to consider them all:
There is no point to pitching someone a product they can’t afford. They also need to be allowed to make such purchases. Just focusing on these first two areas of the BANT framework can save reps a lot of time and unnecessary effort if they do the research up front.
It may be the latter two areas, however, that are even more critical to closing a deal. To what extent does the product or service address a pain point or desire? And if it does, what’s the degree of urgency?
A consumer might make an impulse purchase based on a psychological trigger, but a B2B buyer may have to think through a complex procurement process and wait until a particular quarter to allocate the necessary funds. BANT helps ensure you factor the potential buying cycle into your outreach efforts and to manage the process (and your firm’s expectations) properly.
Although it might seem like a slight variation on BANT, the NEAT framework, which was developed by the Harris Consulting Group and Sales Hacker, deliberately changes the emphasis in key areas.
By starting with an exploration of core needs first, for instance, reps will make sure they’re not wasting their (and the customer’s) time with a pitch. NEAT also looks not just at return on investment (ROI) but the business outcome. Making a purchase could have a positive “economic impact” like helping the customer generate more revenue, for example, or reducing costs in a critical part of their business.
"Access to authority,” meanwhile, recognizes that the person a rep is pitching might not be the final decision-maker. What’s important is that they’ll be able to relay the necessary information or be part of the buying committee.
As for timeline, in this case it’s a matter of identifying the tipping point that leads to a purchase. Will the company face dire consequences if they don’t move forward, or can they take their time to decide? This will affect everything that the rep experiences.
First outlined in Jill Konrath’s SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today's Frazzled Customers, this method starts by urging reps not to overwhelm customers. People will respond to a pitch they can quickly understand and put into their own words.
Next, ask yourself whether what you’re selling is a nice-to-have or something that will be truly game-changing for the customer in question. Buyers also need to feel you understand what they’re focused on and how they work, rather than forcing them to see a sale through your firm’s eyes.
The word “priorities” reinforces the fact that not everything can be treated with equal importance in an organization. Reps need to base their sale around the most mission-critical areas.
This is a highly detailed way to figure out who represents a “healthy” prospect on your target list. You’ll notice it builds on a lot of the previous methods but suggests starting with how an organization evaluates success (such as number of customers, volume of business, etc.) and tailoring it accordingly.
The “economic buyer” and “champion,” meanwhile, point to the issue we discussed earlier about the person who influences the purchasing decision versus their boss or the person who needs to give final sign-off.
While “identify pain” goes back to the idea of looking at needs and their urgency, the most interesting nuance in MEDDIC might be the way it breaks down decision-making.
In some markets, for instance, the decision criteria might stipulate that a vendor is certified in a particular area or adheres to specific industry regulations. The decision process, on the other hand, might involve responding to a request for proposal (RFP) or committing to a multi-stage selling process before closing a deal.
Although the word “spin” is sometimes associated with manipulating the facts, sales expert Neil Rackham created SPIN Selling to suggest studying prospects in a more accurate and granular way.
All organizations are in a constant state of flux, or “situation.” They might be dealing with new competitors, for instance, having to deal with downsizing or are entering a new market. Recognizing the specifics of the situation will hint at where the products and services a rep is selling could help.
In so many cases, however, customers might be tempted to stick with the status quo or do nothing, and it’s the rep’s job to help them think through the implications and risk they could face by not making a purchase.
This helps steer the conversation to a point where, hopefully, the customer will come to believe they need the product or service, and that the payoff will be worth it.
Whether you use one of these methods or meld elements of several methods, make sure reps are clear on how your organization defines a successful sales process. It’s the best way to make the most of the technology, training and other resources you’ll provide them.