Whether you are new to sales or an experienced sales rep or sales leader, the selling of b2b products and services is continually evolving. In this article, we analyse ten usable frameworks that can work for you and offer insights into some of the most effective b2b sales strategies. From asking open-ended questions to completely changing your current sales process. We have a strategy for sales reps of all levels.
10 Sales frameworks for reps of all levels
Target Account ABS (Account-based sales)
How to sell for B2B sales reps
Research from Gartner highlights a growing trend in the customer buying journey. Gartner’s found that by the time a customer contacts a sales rep, they’re around 57% of the way through the buying decision-making process. It also revealed that prospects take control of their research and education, coming into the sale with preconceived ideas about how much they’re willing to pay for the features they want.
10 Sales frameworks for Sales reps of all levels
For this exact reason, we decided to write this article to offer sales specialists support and guidance in choosing the correct sales approach to match their current experience, product and, where possible, the employment industry.
The Solutions selling Method
This strategy is best for new sales reps or those originally from high-pressure sales backgrounds.
The core point of solutions selling is that the sales rep assesses the prospect’s needs and diagnoses the right products or services to fulfil those requirements. The Solution selling approach focuses on why the chosen product is a better fit than the competition.
However, solution selling as a strategy will not suit every sales team. It is most effective when the sales rep sells solutions alongside insights that stimulate the customer to purchase.
When Should you Use Solution Selling?
If you are selling highly bespoke products or packages, then Solution selling is perfect. An example would be when a company offering cloud storage with maintenance and security services creates a unique bundle for each customer. The rep will figure out how much data the prospect needs to store, how many devices they'll be accessing their files on, what kind of extra features and support they will need etc.
Solution selling splits into six steps:
- Being an expert in your products or services
- Identifying the prospects' pain points
- Starting the selling process through consultative questions
- The education process
- Providing maximum value
- Closing the sale
A massive benefit of solution selling is that offering support throughout the entire sales process enhances the selling experience for the prospect. When solution selling, the salesperson will support them at each step of the customer journey and ensure their solution resolved their problem.
Conventional sales techniques don’t work when products and services are:
- Hard to describe
- They have long sales cycles.
Solution Selling Sales Process
“Solution selling” is used pretty broadly these days, but salespeople using this methodology typically follow this sales process:
Prospect: Look for a buyer with a problem their product solves
Qualify: Understand the decision-making unit (DMU)
Discovery: Diagnose the buyer’s needs
Add value: Develop a customer champion; gain access to key decision-makers
Present: Share a custom solution; demonstrate its ROI
Close: Come to a mutually beneficial agreement
Traditionally, B2B buyers have sat in the driving seat with a strong understanding of their problems, a shortlist of potential solutions and a defined budget and evaluation process for selection. Therefore, their buying cycles are more straightforward, shorter, and predictable.
A recent article published by McKinsey calls doubt to solutions selling, citing a lack of cohesion between the framework and the commercial goals of the business model. However, despite the negativity towards the solutions sale, newly hired BDRs would do well to start with this approach as they learn the basics of consultative sales.
To further develop your own or your sales team's abilities to adopt the challenger sale, check out this resource.
The Challenger Sale Method
Best for products such as Saas, digital services, or websites suited to experienced sales reps.
The challenger sale is a process that focuses on taking control of the sales experience through education and tailoring it to the client’s specific needs. This methodology suggests that with the proper training and sales toolkit, salespeople can take control of any customer conversation and increase their closed deals.
If you skip back to the opening of this article, we explain Gartner’s research and how today's buyer operates pre-sales conversation. It’s in this environment where the Challenger sales model shines. These prospects aren’t as interested in product features and benefits as they are already well-researched. Today’s buyers have access to high-quality information readily available on the internet.
However, buyers aren’t feeling confident in their buyer journey; they are increasingly feeling inundated by seemingly endless good choices and need help in their decision-making process. If they reach out to a sales rep, they are most interested in the experience and ‘why’ they should buy—as opposed to ‘what’ they should buy.
The challenger sales methodology can be adopted using a five-step process.
- The warmup
- The reframe
- Add emotion
- The value proposition
- Advise solution
Step 1: The warm-Up
Your first challenge is to build credibility with your prospect. It is imperative sales reps show they recognise the challenges they’re facing. Therefore, sales reps must research and investigate the prospect’s pain points, challenges and needs in-depth.
Most sales methods require reps to emphasise what your product does. However, the Challenger sale stipulates that sales reps discuss the prospect’s needs instead. You never mention your solution at this stage; instead, the conversation focuses on the prospect’s problem.
Things to do:
- Show your prospect why you’re contacting them: Discuss typical issues they might be dealing with and demonstrate empathy.
- Prove that you’re the expert: Provide evidence you have the required experience to understand and deal with your prospect’s problems.
- Pique their interest: Present facts, case studies or research about the problem that might arouse their intrigue.
- Get connected: Interact with prospects through video, visuals and interactive content to engage in the discussion and identify the crucial pain points they face.
- You want a thought-provoking conversation with your prospect at this point. Lay the foundations in these early conversations for selling later down the line.
Step 2: Reframing the conversation
During step 1, the warm-up, you may have identified the prospect's biggest problem is landing customers or that their customer acquisition costs are too high. Reframing the conversation focuses on identifying the crux of the prospect’s issues and reframing them as opportunities for growth.
As you investigate, you begin to break down any misconceptions the prospect has about how you can solve their challenges. By bringing new perspectives to the conversation, your opportunity should slowly shift their mindset away from their preconceived ideas and see your solution as the answer to their problems.
When you finish assessing the issues, you should tell the prospect that the solution they initially had in mind isn’t suitable. You begin to reframe the conversation around better solutions by challenging them to accept this, even as a theoretical solution.
You can do this by:
- Sticking to the subject: Address concerns raised in step 1 and reiterate understanding, knowledge and expertise.
- Challenge the prospect to reconsider their misconceptions: Challenge them to consider how the initially considered solution isn’t as effective as alternative methods they could use.
- Addressing the problem confidently: Redirect the conversation fearlessly and assuredly. The more confident and relatable you are, the more trusted you are to present alternative solutions.
- The objective of this step isn’t to sell. Your goal is to evoke a sense of curiosity in the prospect and to consider alternatives.
Step 3: Use emotion
It doesn’t matter how good your b2b product or service is nor how many features it has; emotion is the key to the final buying decision. Up to 95% of our decision-making is subconscious and usually driven by our emotional reactions, according to professor Gerald Zaltman.
The more a prospect can personally relate to a product, the more likely they will buy it.
Presenting your prospects with relatable customer stories is a great way to see the personal value. Stories of customers that have had similar problems enable them to see themselves as the main character. And by demonstrating how these other customers benefited from a new solution, you manoeuvre them to see how they could also prosper.
Once you show that an alternate solution could resolve their challenge, it forces them to move away from their old ways of thinking.
Now your opportunity is picturing themselves using a new solution; you can take the emotional journey further by showing what happens if they don’t change their perspective.
Do this by:
- Storytelling: This delivers an emotional impact. Tell a story that paints a picture of what will happen if the status quo is maintained. Make your story relatable by addressing pain points, challenges and failing solutions.
- Use case studies: Counteract your storytelling with real-life success stories—the case studies of people whose problems you solved by using these alternative solutions. Use visuals when presenting or sending an email, as pictures and video last longer in people’s minds more than words during a sales pitch or sales presentation.
- Performing research: Provide that invaluable insight to resonate with concerns and aspirations. Back up your argument with data to rationalise your statements.
- It’s now that you get your ducks in a row. If you’ve played this right, your prospect can’t see the benefits of maintaining the status quo.
Step 4: The value proposition
It's time to refocus your opportunity to focus on the new path you have constructed for them.
Don’t introduce your product or service as the solution yet. Instead, focus on showing your prospect that you can solve the challenges.
Frame your solutions by:
- Present a positive future: Previously, you used bad endings to frame your understanding of the prospect’s situation, now, flip this story to show what the future will look like if they decide to take action.
- Be solution-focused: ensure you guide the prospect into connecting the dots for themselves.
- Play the long game: Take time to explain anything the prospect is unsure of or doubting. You are changing their mind; moving too fast will cause the opportunity to back out and build walls.
- It seems counter-intuitive, but the ultimate goal in this step is to educate the prospect about what the ideal solution looks like, without ever mentioning your product. Do it right; your opportunity will sell itself on your answer before you ever do.
Step 5: The product
You’ve now done the hard work. Reframed the prospect’s problem, gained the trust and offered a solution to solve it. Now is the time to show your opportunity and how your product or service is the perfect solution.
Follow this framework, and you will quickly close the sale. Depending on what you’re selling, you might offer a demo or a detailed walkthrough of what working with your company would look like.
To further develop your own or your sales team's abilities to adopt the challenger sale, check out this resource.
The SNAP Sales Process
Best for sales reps dealing with busy senior leaders and decision-makers, suited to experienced sales reps.
The SNAP sales methodology helps your sales team understand your customer’s decision-making process.
There are four essential components:
- Keep It Simple: Understand that your prospect is a busy person with a short attention span, and they will avoid complex situations. Make it simple for your persona to change their current habits and adopt your solution.
- Be iNvaluable: Your goal is to quickly become a trusted expert for your prospect, showcasing the value and standing out from the competition.
- Always Align: You have to align business objections with core beliefs. Prioritise making people want to work with you.
- Raise Priorities: Your prospect—and their organisation—will have priorities. You will need to understand and tap right into those priorities to succeed.
Three Critical Decisions
There’s always more than a single decision involved with any deal—it’s not merely whether to buy or not to buy. There are three specific decisions:
- to allow you access
- to move away from the status quo
- To change resources
By adopting SNAP Selling principles, you and your reps are better suited to interact with busy prospects and distribute valuable knowledge, matching your product or service with issues important to your buyer, enabling a smooth path to purchasing.
The SNAP Factors
Overwhelmed prospects will consider numerous things whilst you are explaining your solution to them.
- Is this solution simple, or will it be too complex to implement?
- Is this person adding value to my time?
- Is this solution align with our priorities?
- Is the implementation or purchase of this solution a priority, or can it wait?
Use these four core elements of SNAP selling to get into your prospect's head. With SNAP Selling, you can ease their restraint and make them more receptive to your approach.
You must emphasise personal value and technical expertise. Should your prospect value the information and knowledge, you guarantee their loyalty to your solution.
Also, drip-feed information so that you do not overwhelm your prospect. More so, you must ensure that your prospect’s priorities become your priorities. Doing so will both be on the same page and help you deliver what the candidate needs in time.
If you are looking further to develop your own or your sales teams abilities to adopt the SNAP sale, check out this resource.
The Spin selling Technique
Best for software solutions and digital service providers. Great for sales reps with some experience of corporate sales.
If you’re selling B2B, you’ve likely heard of SPIN Sales. It’s one of the oldest and most well-known selling systems. SPIN gives reps a research-backed framework for working and closing complex deals with extended sales processes.
The great thing about SPIN selling is that you can use it alongside your current sales methodology. The SPIN strategy focuses on using active listening and translating the prospect’s needs into your product’s features whilst asking good questions in the proper order.
It’s a perfect accompaniment to Inbound Sales.
The SPIN sales method requires four groups of questions. These four categories give SPIN its name.
For those who haven’t heard of the SPIN technique, it’s a sequence of questions based on different topics. Each topic is strategic to probe for answers, but they are not predefined questions to be quoted verbatim but instead to be asked in a particular order.
During your sales call, you open with situation questions, progress to problem questions, and so on. Each set of questions fulfils a critical function in the sales process, each building towards the need-payoff questions, which close the deal.
Situation questions form the basis of your sales cycle. The answers to these questions help to understand the prospect and their immediate situation (hence the name) regarding your product or service.
Situational question examples:
- How are you tracking your customer’s contact details currently?
- How do you currently track your sales pipeline?
- How do you oversee your own or individual sales reps' performance?
You will use the information gleaned from these questions throughout the sales cycle.
However, the more research you do during your prospecting stage, the more extracting and definitive your questions will be—and the more valuable the information will be.
Problem questions bring the prospect to an awareness that some problems or problems need solving. You will use these problems and issues to drive the sale forward gently but firmly.
These types of questions are effective at helping a prospect identify issues that have previously been unobserved.
Problem question examples:
- Did you find the training required to use your current CRM a problem?
- Is it expensive to update your CRM, add new users and suchlike?
- What are the biggest obstacles faced so far in managing your sales pipeline?
These questions highlight the potential implications of the problems when the prospect’s issues are not identified.
Implication questions, when correctly phrased and asked, clearly demonstrate to the prospect that their problems require solving sooner rather than later.
Implication question examples:
- If reps don’t input leads into your CRM system, what’s the impact on your sales forecasting?
- If it’s lengthy and expensive managing your CRM, does that make onboarding new reps painful?
- If you can’t accurately forecast, how much time do you have to apply a fix if you anticipate your sales reps are falling short of their targets?
Once you bring your prospect to the understanding that the situation will deteriorate if it isn’t rectified, you must get them to consider how valuable a real solution to the problem or issues would be. That is the point of the Need-payoff questions.
Need-payoff question examples:
- Why is being able to have forecast reporting of your sales pipeline vital to you?
- If you could cut the amount of time spent training new staff on your CRM, what impact would that have?
- If you could see the opportunities in your pipeline at a glance, how would that help you achieve your sales targets?
To get results with need-payoff questions, you must ensure the buyer specifies the benefits themselves. Encourage them to visualise and imagine the difference and potential outcomes with that problem solved. If you get these questions right, your customer will tell you how your product will help and close the deal for you. Need-payoff questions need to evoke a feel-good factor.
If you are looking further to develop your own or your sales teams abilities to adopt the SPIN sale, check out this resource.
The Sandler Sales System
Best for new sales reps or to re-educate high-pressure sales reps. Great for software and services with significant value pricing.
The Sandler Selling System derives from David Sandler’s fascination with WWII movies about submarines. Inspired by the idea that a submariner closes each compartment after himself to lock it shut to prevent danger from following him. The Sandler sales technique requires the same procedure to avoid “disaster” on a sales call. Your goal is to move through each compartment, or step of the selling system, to arrive safely at a successful sale.
In many ways, the Sandler sales process resembles a traditional sales process but emphasises the qualification stage more than the closing stage. Whilst typical sales processes are known as a funnel, the Sandler sales process is shown by the “Sandler Submarine.”
The Sandler methodology instructs reps to act as a consultant rather than to convince the prospect as a typical sales rep does.
With three clearly defined stages, the Sandler system focuses on preventing games from being played during the sales cycle.
Building and sustaining the relationship
You lead by setting clear expectations and guidelines for the final decision, all whilst being open and honest and building the relationship.
- Bond and connect: Develop a positive relationship with your prospect based on mutual trust. This leads to effective communication throughout the rest of the consultative sales process.
- Up-front contracts: Define the steps for each stage of the process. Agree on when and how you and your prospect will further communicate and what will happen during each phase.
Qualifying the opportunity
Determine if there is a good fit with your prospect’s needs, budget, decision-making process and timeline.
- Pain: Uncover the top-level issues the prospect faces, the underlying reasons for those top-level issues, and the personal impact of those problems on the opportunity. Ask plenty of questions, probe deeply and if you hear particular painful issues dive deeper into those. The real problems they need to solve might not be the obvious ones.
- Budget: Rather than naming a price, the Sandler sales process requires that you ask the prospect for practical financial guidelines. Don’t approach this sales method with particular numbers in mind. You should also ask about other potential budget concerns like time and personnel when applicable.
- Decision: Qualify your prospect of decision-making power before moving forward. If that person can sign deals off, ask the right questions to get them to make a final decision. Then, if all is well, ask if anything else could prevent the prospect from going forward.
Closing the Sale
If your prospects qualify for your product or service, you make a no-pressure presentation, confirm the terms, and set expectations for delivery and referrals.
- Fulfilment: Now that you have earned trusted adviser status, you still need to ask questions to fulfil the prospect’s expectations. After ensuring the decision-makers and stakeholders are satisfied, it’s time to sign the contract and kick-off.
- Post-sell: Once contracts are signed, maintain the relationship with the client to ensure the solution offered is the right one. If so, the referral of a happy client can be asked for, and new prospects can appear to repeat the process.
Here are the seven steps of the Sandler sales method:
- Bonding and rapport
- Up-front contracts
Bonding and rapport
Establish a good rapport with your prospects from your first interaction. People tend to do business with people they like and trust.
Set an upfront contract before every meeting that includes;
- Time and place
- Clients Agenda
- Your agenda
- The outcome of what success would look like
Uncover your prospect's pain, which is between where they are and where they want to be. You can't create solutions until you know the full scope of the problem.
Set an upfront contract to the negotiation phase to discuss your prospect's budget. Find out if money is available for the sale and how much is available.
Review what's been covered and start gathering information. Your goal is either;
- Disqualify the prospect
- Determine that you need to meet with more people to qualify the prospect.
Make your presentation here, late in the sales process, once you have gathered the critical information. It should focus on the pain you uncovered, meet the budget parameters you identified and target the decision-makers.
Close the deal at this final stage.
- Counteract the buyer's remorse
- Preventing the loss of the sale to the competition or the incumbent
- Setting an up-front contract about the next steps.
To further develop your personal or your sales team's abilities to adopt the challenger sale, check out sandlerselling.com.
The Conception Selling Method
Best for experienced reps who spend time on the phone on sit behind substantial ad campaigns.
Concept Selling's core objectives and deliverables are to improve the prospect's operation/OEE/efficiency and uptime. Also, when they are focusing on reducing labour costs and increasing profitability.
The concept selling framework is designed to reach prospects that may never have heard of your company or the benefits of your products and services before this current outreach to them.
There are vast numbers of these prospects within your target industries, and it is likely that your company is already aware of this untapped potential and has spent time and resources heavily researching the potential audience.
Examples of companies that use the selling concept are life insurance and timeshare companies or double-glazing and homeware businesses. Salespeople in these industries research their target demographic and focus their advertising and promotion on the research results to sell as many units of a product as possible.
Conception selling lends itself to solving the following within an organisation:
- Automating, implementing lean architecture, improving and streamlining a business process
- Reducing labour and associated operational costs
- Optimising total quality, total efficiency and OEE within an operational business model
- Alleviating process headaches, intricate reporting procedures and unreliable paper-based systems
- Cost-effective techniques to increase productivity and profitability – whilst using the same or less head-count
- Process or continuous improvements – quality standards, initiatives for excellence
- Improvements to alleviate costs and pressures put on their operation due to customer demands
- Business improvement knock-on-effect to increase customer satisfaction and retention
- Competitive & strategic advantage
- Improving overall operational business efficiency
To further develop your personal or your sales team's abilities to adopt the challenger sale, check out this resource.
The MEDDIC Sales Methodology
Best for Enterprise sales cycles and experienced sales reps, MEDDIC works best with organisations with complex structures.
MEDDIC is the most renowned Sales Qualification Methodology applicable to any complex Enterprise Sales Process. MEDDIC is also known as the MEDDIC CHECKLIST or the MEDDIC SALES PROCESS.
So what does MEDDIC stand for?
- Metrics: Quantification of the potential gain and economic benefit
- Economic Buyer: Engaging the decision-maker who controls funds
- Decision Process: Process defined by the company to make a buying decision
- Decision Criteria: Criteria the company uses to make the purchase decision from chosen options
- Identify Pain: Identified pains the company has that would require your product/service to solve.
- Champion: Influential person(s) at the company who is behind your solution
MEDDIC has helped many sales teams and reps achieve exemplary results. The stats show growth rates of 30%+ in saturated markets, and in start-up marketplaces, over 250%+ is possible.
As a sales rep, your goal is to ensure a profitable return on your efforts, and the MEDDIC sales framework, like Sandler, focuses a lot of emphasis on the prospect.
The MEDDIC qualification process prevents you from chasing bad leads, better understanding and qualifying prospects.
What is the advantage of using the MEDDIC Checklist?
- Monitor stages of qualification/progress of a deal
- Self-assessment by each salesperson
- Flows to the next deal stage during the sales conversation
- No Discounting to close a deal
- The client creates pressure to close the deal
- Improves the accuracy of deal forecasts
- Better revenue through sales efficiency and better qualification
- Reduces costs thanks to early disqualifications of bad deals
- Creates common language within the sales team
It would be best if you had qualified metrics from your target companies to define the quantifiable benefits of your solution.
For example, if your prospect’s goal is to increase their revenue by 15% in the next month, you can define how your product or service will help them achieve that target.
The right metrics will help you identify exactly how your solution will help them.
Simply measure the prospect’s current and future state (after product implementation), then quantify the benefits.
The economic buyer controls the funds and can take the final call for the deal, often the decision-maker.
Under MEDDIC, you invest your time and effort in identifying the person who can accept or reject your offer. If you convince this person, your chances of closing the deal improve significantly.
So how do you find your decision-maker? Try a few of these to help you:
- Who signs off on a purchase decision in your company?
- Are you the only stakeholder in this project?
- What’s your role in the decision-making process?
- Who takes the final decision when it comes to choosing a vendor, supplier or solution?
- If you own the project, do you make the final purchase decision?
The MEDDIC sales methodology focuses on the sales rep developing a deep understanding of a company’s technical, legal, and commercial buying decision criteria.
Your prospect wants to integrate a new CRM into their existing tech stack but has a set budget that they won’t move on and won’t negotiate.
By understanding your prospect's considerations whilst evaluating the new product, you can determine whether you can deal with them.
If there is no deal to be had, don’t waste your time or the prospects. Instead, move on to a deal that will more likely convert.
No, we aren’t repeating ourselves here; the criteria for making a decision differ from the process.
This stage of the MEDDIC sales framework tells you how the buying decision was made.
It's the path taken by the business to reach a purchasing decision. Therefore, you need to identify the company's process to purchase a solution.
By understanding this, you will be able to monitor how close to a buying decision the organisation is.
Here are a few questions you can ask the prospect to understand their decision process.
- Which are the steps usually taken to reach a buying decision?
- On which timeline is it based?
- Can you describe the approval process and who is involved in it?
Identify the pain
Most companies only look for a solution once the pain they face is unbearable and they can no longer cope.
These businesses want to deal with reps who understand their pain and can deal with their issues.
It would be best if you were as specific as possible in suggesting a possible solution while investigating the prospect’s pain.
As an example;
Saying that the company's CRM is a problem doesn’t give you the root cause of the issue. It’s generic and high-level and won’t enable you to close a sale.
Knowing the CRM is too challenging to manage, and the sales reps won’t use it and are demanding something more intuitive, whilst the sales manager needs better visibility is essential.
You’ll be able to explain why they should consider your product and highlight the potential risks of not addressing the problem.
At this stage of the MEDDIC sales methodology, your job is to focus on finding your Champion – that influential internal person who will benefit if the pain is solved.
These Champions often act as a helping hand in getting the product implemented and gaining internal traction.
Once you have their trust, they will drive your solution through as they want to resolve their issue as soon as possible.
Having an insider of the company at your side increases the chances of closing a deal.
Should you want further to develop your personal or your sales team's abilities to adopt the MEDDIC sale, check out this resource.
the N.E.A.T. Selling™ process
Best for Saas sales reps at any level, as long as you have this framework in place as a standardised solution in your organisation.
Reps that use the N.E.A.T. sales methods value listening and diving deeper into the wants and needs of a prospect rather than SPEAKING. This requires using your two ears and one mouth in that order.
N.E.A.T. stands for:
- Economic impact
- Access to authority
The N.E.A.T. sales qualification framework is considered to be extremely useful. Sales reps that use it find that they understand their prospects’ needs better whilst eliminating bad-fit prospects.
Firstly, identify what your prospects need.
Your job is to find the pain, not the superficial pain, the root cause of the problem. Empathy will play a crucial part in the Need stage of the NEAT sales methodology. Put yourself in your prospect's shoes and challenge yourself to think deeply about what could be bothering them.
Secondly, think about how those needs impact the prospect's finances.
You have to discover the prospect's current financial situation and establish that your solution's cost will be a benefit. For example, should your prospect's CRM require expensive add-ons and further training to upgrade, your solution cost less and has all those features included with an intuitive user interface? You can show the savings in both time money and adoption.
Access to authority
Third, how do you access the person with authority to make decisions?
As your prospects’ companies get bigger, there will no doubt be higher numbers of stakeholders in the process. You must understand who has the authority to sign deals off and how the political relationships work in the organisation.
At this point, organisational charts are crucial to mapping this out, and a CRM like HubSpot, with its connected marketplace apps, would work well for your own sales organisation. Your job is to know who is involved in the final decision, as you may never have access to them beforehand. Therefore it is essential, no key to your success, to know whom to ask for access to at what stage of the process.
Lastly, What’s the likely timeline for getting the deal?
Don’t guess or assume at this point. This is about the cold hard facts. As there are so many moving parts in a sales deal, you must digest everything and be pragmatic in dissecting the sales prices and obtaining a timeline.
Your goal is establishing a timeline or sign-off date and keeping your prospect keen and eager to close to it.
Should you want further to develop your personal or your sales team's abilities to adopt the NEAT sale, check out this resource.
The Account-Based Sales Method
Best for enterprise products with long sales cycle products and services and requires sales reps to work closely with marketing.
Account-based selling (ABS) is today's hot approach for enterprise b2b sales organisations. This approach requires you to treat the whole company (account) as the prospect rather than any single decision-maker (contact).
The focus of this strategy requires you to work closely with your marketing team; it is the height of marketing and sales alignment. Develop your org chart for the company and devise a content and touchpoint strategy that allows you to influence each decision-maker and influencer at the same time. For ABS, your content (marketing) must be aligned with your sales goals.
This strategy completely reverses the inbound marketing and sales strategy, which focuses on influencing single or c-suite members. ABS targets the whole organisation and identifies multiple potential stakeholders and decision-makers to reach out to.
An ABS Framework
1) Align your team
Account-based sales rely on you, targeting your prospect organisation at every level. To do this effectively, you need input from your company's equivalent teams of sales, customer success/service, marketing and potentially finance.
Gather your reps together and break down how you have sold to previous customers of equal size and status, have marketing show results from previous campaigns that targeted companies alike and customer success to discuss how they are keeping equivalent companies happy and the issues they resolve. Finally, your finance team will tell you which company types provide the best MRR or ARR.
2) Define your target companies
Identify and list the characteristics of companies that are likeliest to close, including:
- Industry, market, and vertical(s)
- Number of employees
- Decision-makers (LinkedIn)
- Financial performance
- Market share
- Location or number of offices
- Historical growth
- Predicted growth
3) Review your CRM
Your CRM holds a wealth of information about your ideal customers. Review your closed-won accounts, most profitable accounts, least likely to churn, and so on.
4) Identify their technology
In my previous article, looking at developing a standardised sales process, I talked about having the right technology to identify your prospect's tech. You can do this with a few chrome browser plugins, BuiltWith and Wappalyzer are two that spring to mind.
Use these tools to identify your product’s competitive and complementary solutions so that you are pre-armed with expert insight into their current tech stack. Use this information to build a picture of what works seamlessly, what clashes, what is expensive in relation to your product, and which is better. Think back to the MEDDIC approach at this point to complement ABS.
As an example, HubSpot and Qwilr integrate. That means a business using Qwilr for quoting purposes would likely be a good fit for HubSpot’s products since it wouldn’t need to change or modify its current setup.
5) Trigger events and behavioural data
By explicitly identifying the common traits, behaviours and events your targets share, you will quickly identify good-fit organisations from now on.
If, for example, many of your good-fit clients raised a series C investment round before signing, your campaigns should contain content and messaging that includes “What to do post-round C”.
However, not every data point is visible unless you and your teams focus on using your CRM cohesively. If, for example, your best-fit opportunities have come from industry events, then establish what happened before the event that triggered an interest in your product or service.
Should you want further to develop your personal or your sales team's abilities to adopt the NEAT sale, check out this resource.
The Inbound Sales Method
Best for sales reps of all experience once the certification is completed, great for services and products.
The inbound sales methodology focuses sales reps on the needs, challenges, goals and interests of their buyer persona. You don’t rush to close the deal; instead, you meet your prospects where they are and guide them through the decision-making process.
By breaking down your prospect's digital behaviour during the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer's journey, the savvy rep can craft a highly personalised approach to each persona.
HubSpot recommends that you use the following four-part framework for your inbound sales process or the Inbound Sales Methodology:
As an inbound Sales rep, you have to Identify strangers or good-fit potential customers who may have goals or challenges you can help with. You can then class these strangers as leads.
Once you collect your leads, you need to connect with them. When doing this, your goal is to help them decide if the challenge or goal is worth prioritising. Should your buyer select to solve them, you can move them into a qualified lead status.
You have to help the prospect explore their goals and challenges to assess that your product is a good fit for them. If so, you can reclass these leads as opportunities.
Finally, your job is to advise the opportunity on how your product or solution is uniquely positioned to solve their problem in the buyer’s context. Should your buyer agree, you can close the opportunity, and they become customers.
For a great resource and free certification in the Inbound Sales methodology, check out the HubSpot Academy.
How to sell b2b for sales reps
I have covered ten of the most popular sales methodologies and frameworks for salespeople of all skills and abilities. Each is cited for the solution they are suited to and the skill level of the sales rep. It would be best to decide how you feel about each style according to your current abilities and experience.
There are, of course, many more styles and methodologies available, and we most certainly advise you to train for those unknown to you properly. In many cases, your organisation can arrange that for you and if not, consider it an investment in yourself.
B2B sales are a high investment for high reward, and if you can cement a particular style that suits your personality and nature, there is no doubt that a standardised framework for you and your wider team will pay dividends. Now go practice and ring that bell!
For help with your sales enablement process, don't hesitate to contact us here at BIAS; from strategy to technology, we can assist you to a successful outcome.