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  • John Pomeroy

Sales Systems: Methodology (episode 5)

Since episode 1 of this Sales System Series, we’ve touched on the overall system, Sales IQ, Message and Process. Episode 5 is aimed at sales Methodology and will lead us onto Recruiting, Alignment, Scaling, Tune-up, and ROO.

Your sales methodology is a critical part of the Sales System, but choices abound. The best methodology will be different depending on what you sell, where you sell it, who you sell it to, and who is selling it for you. That’s because the sales methodology applies directly to the interface between your customers and your sales representatives. Plenty has been written on various methodologies:


Situation, Problem, Implication,and Needs Pay-off.

Coined in 1989 by Neil Rackham “SPIN” involves asking questions that lead to specificly understanding the buyers situation, their issues, what that means to them and what it would mean to them to solve that problem. Though coined almost 30 years ago, SPIN has proven to be a great technique especially for those with good communications skills. Using those communication skills is critical since this approach relies on establishing trust and then aligning your message and your solutions to the expressed situation, problem while addressing the implications and needs payoff.

Well suited to transactional sales that don’t involve a large number of stakeholders in the buying process, this can be very effective and is quite accessible to less experienced sales people.


Contrasting to SPIN, Challenger is best suited to larger more complex, multi-stakeholder engagements. Taken from the book by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson where they postulated that there were 5 different main types of sales person, this approach assigns the behaviour of one type as the most successful and thus the methodology to strive for. The Challenger really understands his customer’s business and uses that to push the customer drawing them out to improved results through debate and applying a different view of the world to push the customer.

This approach requires a well-informed, smart and adaptive sales person and applies well where an individual buyer cannot make the decision alone. The challenger not only challenges the customer, but identifies the true decision makers early, isn’t afraid to talk about money and push back at the idea of a discount, and is able to adjust their strategy on the fly to adapt to the context of each customer.


Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, Champion

A long drawn out acronym created by Dick Dunkel and Jack Napoli identifying a sales methodology best suited to Enterprise sales applications. In essence it is system using a series of qualifying check points and checklists to align customers with sales people best suited to succeed. Ideally suited to large sales teams and mature brands, MEDDIC is not easily applied to startups. I mention it here because it makes a good case for customer to sales person alignment and if nothing else that is a worthy thing to consider when thinking about the sales methodologies you will employ.


Simple, iNvaluable, Align, Priorities

Author Jill Konrath created this acronym as a set of directives for sellers to use. Keep it simple, be invaluable to your customers, always align with them, and raise priorities. The most valuable concept in her book though is perhaps the observation that the buyer is not making a single decision. It is more than just a buy or sell decision. First the busy person who you would like to sell to must make the decision to give you access. You must get that first meeting. Then they must decide that it’s OK to move away from their existing solutoin. Finally they must decide that not only moving away from that but also changing to you is the best option.

Other methodologies worth mentioning include NEAT, Conceptual selling, Customer centric selling, Solution Selling, and the Sandler system.

If you’ve taken the time to look into any or all of these, you already know that there are similarities across many of them. You may also have noticed that beneath the surface of all of them there are some common elements that capitalize on basic human behaviour to benefit the forward momentum of a sales engagement. While planning your sales system, making rough plans around the sales methodologies that best suit your products, your customers and your available sales resources is a good idea. No single approach is perfect, neither is any single approach exclusive to parts of the others. Look hard enough and you will see that they all essentially say,

“Listen, Listen, Listen, respect your buyers' time, and always be helpful if they are buying or not." Applying these methodologies, along with sufficient training and then adding skilled sales professionals will make your pipeline grow and become more predictable while helping you focus your training and enablement assets to deliver ever increasing results at lower cost.


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