Just like most fields, sales is an endlessly evolving industry that has seen many different methods throughout the years. Customers oftentimes seem unpredictable and salespeople are unsure what approach to take with many of them. There are many different sales methods and it can be difficult to choose which one to use at various times, but using them well can lead to significant increases in revenue and profits.
Created in the 1980’s, SPIN selling is based on four factors: Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need/Payoff. Much of SPIN selling relies on what the customers say they need, and this method can be used in-person or on the phone or email. Connecting with customers and asking the right questions can lead to the customers themselves coming to a conclusion on what they need and how you can help them.
The solution component of this tactic is making sure you and your business have the means to fulfill the solution of the customer’s issue. The problem component is exactly what it sounds like, as you ask the customers what their dilemmas or concerns are and possibly make them realize questions and issues they haven’t even realized. Implication questions take this a step further and aim to make customers feel a sense of urgency in buying your product or service. The need/payoff component is ultimately what helps you make the sale, as customers normally realize themselves what they need and agree to let you help them.
The SPIN selling method can certainly improve the processes and income of a business, but it is typically just better for a small business because it works to make a business’s processes more simple and this typically isn’t sufficient for huge companies that have several sectors.
SNAP selling plays on customers’ emotions a little more than other techniques. When customers are shopping, they are usually overwhelmed with information especially if they are looking for high ticket items such as cars, houses, or advanced technical solutions for their businesses.
The first step is to allow access, which involves relaying information to them in different ways (email, phone, text, etc.) and following up with informative details about what you are offering. The second step is to initiate change. Be concise but let the customers know what you have to offer and how it will help them. At this stage, it is important to listen to their concerns and potential issues and let them know how you can help them overcome these challenges. The third stage is to select resources. In other words, let them know the expectations of your services – both the good and the bad. Include cons but also let the customers know how you can work with them to overcome these cons.
Be honest and play on the customers’ emotions by analyzing their attitudes and giving positive responses about both the positive and negative feedback they are providing.
The Challenger Selling model includes three components: teach, tailor, and take control. The “teach” component works to make customers realize how your product or solution can help them. This is easy for customers who don’t really know about the thing you’re selling, and they may think something like “that’s really neat, maybe we should try that,” but can be more difficult for customers who are already knowledgeable about your product or solution. Really pinpointing what is unique about your product and how it is better than others is the first step to making the sale. Secondly, tailoring your product to the customers’ needs is very important. Do your research on the customers and their businesses and come up with a customized plan for them. The third component is taking control, which involves having discussions with the individuals in upper management who make the final decisions and really selling the value of your product or solution instead of the price. Planning and research are crucial to this method, which is newer than most other methods and works well for customers who feel like conventional sales methods are ineffective and outdated (i.e. younger individuals).
Like SPIN selling, this is a great method to gain customers’ trusts but may not work well for huge companies that have many different sectors and processes. It also can be hard for aggressive salespeople to use this method, as communication is the key to this method instead of sales tactics.
Sandler Sale Method
The Sandler Sale Method is unique because it actually twists the sales process around and has customers influence the sellers instead of the other way around. This method works well for large organizations and really thrives on reinforcement to convince customers they need what you are selling.
The first stage is the technical stage, which is when you would discuss the problems the customers are facing. Letting the customers tell you what the need is actually like them selling the product or solution to you. Next, analyze the business-financial impact of your product or solution. Don’t only tell customers what you are selling, but go in-depth about how it would help them financially as well as save them time. Thirdly, and similar to the SNAP method, is playing on customers’ emotions. By putting a personal interest into their issues and asking them how their current system isn’t working, in a way it will make the customers realize how much of an impact their current issues are having on their business and personal lives and also realize that they need your product or solution to overcome the challenges.
The downside to this method is that sales can be lost if you don’t find a completely perfect solution to the issues. Promising leads have to be let go if you do not have an exact product or solution that customers can use. Another downside to this is that even if customers know they need your product or solution, most aren’t going to ask you to sell it and will make you work to convince them.
Consultative or Solution Selling
The consultative or solution selling method is one of the most popular sales methods and really focuses on creating a bond with customers and putting them first. This method uses six steps: Meet, listen and ask questions, study and analyze the conversation, teach customers about your product or solution, suggest relevant solutions, and then close the deal. Research has shown that most people love to talk about themselves, so getting to know customers and their businesses is crucial to making a sale under this method. Do your research so you are prepared for your first meeting, and then be sure to ask questions that you need the answers to. Let your customers talk and then create a plan that will help them. Suggest the solution you have come up with, and make sure to include how their issues will not be solved if they don’t use what you’re selling. If successful, customers will realize your product is what they need and they will buy it. The potential downside to this sales method is that it can take a lot of time to build a relationship with customers and therefore may take a longer time to make the sale.
A newer sales method that shares a lot of similarities with consultative selling is RAIN selling. This usually consists of both in-person communication as well as email and phone communication and works to build on consultative conversations in a more meaningful way. By utilizing specific questioning techniques, you will be selling your product or solution based on the value it can provide instead of focusing on price. Taking consultative selling a step further, the RAIN method focuses on building your credibility with customers as well as understanding the different personas of potential customers and how they will respond to your sales method. This sales method can be very successful, but it is difficult to use when some customers are mostly concerned about price and how much your product or service will cost them in the long run.
Overall, there are many different sales methods you can use to influence customers and get them to agree to purchase your product or solution. Regardless which method is used, it is always important to understand what the customers’ issues and needs are and subsequently tailor a plan for them. If used correctly, all of these sales methods have been found to be effective.