Candice Coots
Content Marketing at SetSail
Table of contents:

Sales play a pivotal role in any business, as do the specific sales methodologies used by a team. As a result, working in sales is often a high-stress environment as there is always a need to continually improve and sell more.

Implementing sales methodologies that are perfectly timed can make all the difference.

Sales used to be an all or nothing game. Make a sale, get a commission.

20% of reps driving 80% of the revenue on average had become the norm.

However today, that’s no longer the case. With modern data we can track sales micro actions as your sales reps progress towards each win.

It turns out the best reps do the basics right at exactly the right moment during the sales cycle.

Before you read about these 16 best sales methodologies, you need to know that today, AI like SetSail expands your ability to win more and win fast by realigning sales around small wins that lead to the big win. Download our Signal-Based Selling eBook to learn how to focus sales on the signals that close deals.

In this article, we’re looking at what sales methodologies are, why they’re so important to the success of sales teams, and 16 of the best sales methodologies you should be using in 2021:

What Are Sales Methodologies?

Sales methodologies are frameworks that outline how sales teams and organizations should approach each step of the sales process.

Sales methodologies go into much more detail than the sales processes most sales teams develop as they tackle the challenges of dealing with customers.

Most methodologies have been created through extensive research, analyzing sales teams’ performances, ramp time and processes, and studying the psychology and behaviors of sales reps and customers.

This gives sales teams access to much more detailed and analytical insights than they would be able to gather themselves.

In short, sales methodologies provide proven solutions to improving sales processes by equipping sales teams with clear frameworks.

Why Should You Use Sales Methodologies?

There are various benefits to using sales methodologies. Some of the most notable are:

Proven Sales Strategies "Out of the Box"

Developing sales strategies are time-consuming and expensive. By adopting a sales methodology, you gain instant access to a framework that has been proven to work.

The “onboarding” cost is low, too. Most sales methodologies are free to learn, while some are available as paid courses. Either way, it’s a lot less expensive than hiring a sales consultant.

They Provide Unique Insights

Most sales methodologies provide unique approaches to driving sales optimization and effectiveness. The people who created them often have the freedom to experiment and learn from the mistakes of others.

This is something that most sales teams cannot afford to do themselves. The result is unique, interesting, and motivating sales frameworks that you would never have considered otherwise.

They Offer Flexible Solutions

The best part about there being so many sales methodologies to choose from is the range of flexibility they offer.

Some methodologies are designed to help with one specific sales challenge. Such as identifying high-value leads, customer pain points, or characteristics of good sales reps.

Whatever your individual pain points and sales challenges are, there will be a sales methodology solution to help.

You're Going to Improve Your Sales Numbers

While there is a long list of different sales methodologies, the end goal is always the same - they’re designed to help sales teams sell more.

It might take some trial and error to find the right methodology for your sales team, but there will be one.

Sales methodologies have become the sales backbone for so many huge organizations. If you’re at a loss about how you can improve your sales numbers, there is a sales methodology that holds the answer.

Ready to find the perfect sales methodology for your organization?

The 16 Best Sales Methodologies

1. SPIN Selling Methodology

The SPIN selling is one of the most well-known and proven sales methodologies. This methodology was developed in 1988 by an author and academic called Neil Rackham.

Neil and his team carried out detailed research into the performance of sales reps over 12 years. They found that something most top-selling reps had in common was asking customers strategic questions.

Rackman put together the SPIN methodology to explain this and help other sales teams improve their sales approach.

SPIN is an acronym for:

Situation - Ask situational questions to better understand what a customer is looking for and needs a product for.

Problem - Identify the problems customers have and how your products and services help with those pain points.

Implication - Questions leading to the buyer’s implications help them see how your products can offer a solution.

Need-Payoff - Asking questions of a customer to help them see the need-payoff forces them to vocalize how your products are going to solve their problems.

2. Solution Selling Methodology

Solution selling is a type of sales methodology that involves using a problem-led approach - as opposed to using a sales or product-led approach.

The term “solution” relates to the fact you’re trying to sell a solution to a problem. There are several benefits to using this type of sales approach, most notably:

Deeper customer engagement - By asking questions about what problems buyers are facing, you enter into deeper engagement. This enables you to understand a customer’s needs better and sell them the right solution.

You can focus on value - When conversations are product-led, it’s easy to get tied up focusing on a product’s features. By focusing on the needs of customers, you’re able to deliver a value proposition.

You differentiate your business - Most sales reps are going to take a product-led approach. Taking a solution selling approach enables you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. For customers visiting various vendors, this will often be the advantage that closes the deal.

3. SNAP Selling Methodology

The SNAP selling methodology was established in 2012 by Jill Konrath. This sales technique aims to speed up the sales process by bringing sales reps onto the same level as buyers.

SNAP identifies three critical decisions in the buying process; allowing access, moving in a different direction away from the status quo, and changing resources.

SNAP is an acronym for:

Keep it Simple - Make it simple for customers to buy and adopt what you’re selling.

Be INvaluable - Be an expert in your niche and build trust with your customers.

Always Align - Align your business objectives with core beliefs.

Raise Priority - Understand what is a priority for your customers and work with them on those points.

By following this framework, your reps should see a reduction in your sales cycle duration and an improvement in conversions.

4. N.E.A.T. Selling Methodology

This methodology was designed by The Harris Consulting Group and Sales Hacker.

In short, N.E.A.T. involves finding out what the needs of a customer are, explaining how your products/services meet those needs, and bringing a deal to a close.

N.E.A.T. is an acronym for:

N - This stands for finding a customer’s core needs. By delving deeper and understanding what a customer’s needs really are, you can better tailor the solution you’re providing.

E - This represents explaining the economic impact on the buyer of making - or not making - a purchase.

A - This stands for Authority. Meaning, are you speaking with someone who has the authority to make the decision to buy?

T - This stands for Timeline. This framework aims to set a timeline to force a buyer to decide and bring a sale to a close.

5. Conceptual Selling Methodology

The Conceptual Selling methodology was developed by Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman. This framework is based on the premise that customers don’t buy a product. They buy into the concept of the solution that the product offers.

For this reason, Miller and Heiman encourage sales reps to ask customers questions that fall into the following categories:

Confirmation - Ask questions to reaffirm what customers are looking for.

New information questions - Find out what the customer’s concept of the product or service is.

Attitude questions - Find out more about the customer. The more personal and engaged you can get with them, the more trust you’ll build.

Commitment questions - Find out why the customer wants to invest in the product, along with anything holding them back.

Basic issue questions - Bring up potential problems and work out solutions.

The key to being successful using the Conceptual Selling methodology is being a good listener and problem solver.

6. The Challenger Sale Methodology

Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson designed the Challenger Sale Methodology. This framework states that every B2B sales rep fits into one of the following five personas:

Hard Worker - Self-motivated, doesn’t give up.

Lone Wolf - Self-assured, follows own instincts.

Relationship Builder - Creates relationships with both customers and team members.

Problem Solver - Detail-oriented, always solves problems.

Challenger - Has a different view of the world, likes to challenge themselves and the ‘norm.’

Dixon and Adamson state that sales reps with the Challenger persona are by far the most successful.

This is because they challenge customers - and themselves - and are willing to delve deeper into identifying pain points and solutions that other persona types.

By identifying and hiring reps that fit the Challenger persona, you can improve productivity and close more sales.

7. The Sandler Sales Methodology

The Sandler Sales Methodology takes a different approach from most of the other sale methodologies.

The relationship between sales rep and customer is traditionally viewed as reps leading the deal and finding ways to sell their goods to customers.

However, using the Sandler Methodology, the relationship between sales rep and customer is viewed as being equally invested.

It prioritizes building mutual trust, and reps behave more like advisors than salespeople. The benefit of taking this approach is that sales reps can often see the problems and solutions from the customer’s viewpoint.

This gives them greater insight into the process and often enables reps to overcome some of the issues that may have otherwise caused the customer to walk away from the deal.

It also encourages back and forth conversations which will often lead to customers convincing the sales rep to sell to them.

8. The MEDDIC Sales Methodology

The MEDDIC sales methodology emphasizes better customer qualification. This means taking a look at every lead entering your pipeline and determining whether or not it’s worth the time and effort pursuing each lead.

MEDDIC is an acronym for:

Metrics - Can you measure the economic impact of working with the organization?

Economic Buyer - Do you know who controls the appropriate budget?

Decision Criteria - How is the organization picking its vendor?

Decision Process - Do you understand how the organization makes its buying decisions?

Identify Pain - How are you solving a pain point for an organization?

Champion - Which of your reps will be picking up the lead?

As you work through these criteria, you’ll identify the leads that deserve more of your resources. This will, in turn, lead to a higher conversion rate.

9. Inbound Selling Methodology

Outbound selling uses sales techniques to prospects leads and eventually turns those leads into sales.

Inbound selling is the process of bringing leads into your sales funnel, primarily through some form of marketing.

The Inbound Selling Methodology refers to the process of capturing those inbound inquiries, then prioritizing the needs, challenges, and goals of those buyers to move them along the pipeline.

There is a 4-step framework that turns inbound leads into sales and streamlines the process:

Identify - This is the process of identifying inbound leads and prioritizing “warm” or engaged leads.

Connect - The next step is to connect with prospects and start identifying what they’re looking for and how you can help.

Explore - This step is where reps get to know prospects better and introduce them to products and services to solve their pain points.

Advise - The final stage is advising other reps on what they’ve learned about inbound sales to help streamline the sales process.

10. Customer-Centric Selling Methodology

The Customer-Centric selling methodology is exactly how it sounds. It involves putting customers first and identifying their needs in the early stages of the selling cycle.

This sales methodology has proven successful for many businesses as it helps give customers more choice, added flexibility, and prioritizes helping them overcome any challenges.

It often takes more time than other sales methods, but it also results in a higher conversion rate for most organizations.

To build a customer-centric sales mindset, you need to train your reps to consciously put themselves in their customers’ position.

They need to think like customers, see the same options as them, resonate with the challenges they face, and offer them the best possible solution they need to move forward in the pipeline.

11. The Consultative Selling Methodology

The Consultative selling methodology prioritizes nurturing relationships and encouraging an open dialogue with customers to identify and provide solutions to their needs.

Essentially it’s all about better serving the customer.

The framework for this methodology is generally broken down into the following 6 steps:

Prepare -Preparation is a key first step. This involves preparing all of your sales reps with the knowledge and tools they need to help customers.

Connect - The connect phase involves making contact with customers.

Understand - Understanding customer’s individual needs is at the heart of consultative selling.

Recommend - Once you have an understanding of what your customers want/need, you can recommend the best solution.

Commit - Closing the sale is always the ultimate goal. By following this framework sales, reps are in the best position to close on sales.

Act - The final stage is to follow up with a customer whether they made a purchase or not. This builds long-term trust and credibility.

12. Value-Based Selling Methodology

The Value-based selling methodology is an approach that focuses on delivering the maximum value to a customer throughout the sales process.

Customers like to think they’re getting a good deal and good value for money. If you can satisfy a customer that they’re getting good value, they’re much more likely to buy.

It’s very similar to the Consultative selling methodology, although there are some key differences.

Most notably, with a value-based approach, there is a strong focus on identifying how the products or services being sold can deliver value to the customer, along with providing a value-driven sales process.

The key to delivering value-based selling is to establish excellent communication. Reps need to dig deep into the problems customers are looking to solve, even identifying solutions they didn’t know they needed.

If your sales reps can sell a product to a customer that exceeds their expectations, they’ve delivered added value to the sale.

13. Target Account Selling Methodology

The Target account selling methodology is the process of identifying and selling strategically to large enterprise accounts.

If you have a mix of small to large enterprise leads coming into your pipeline and limited resources to allocate to nurturing leads, for some organizations, it’s important to target the large enterprise leads first.

When properly implemented, target account selling is a scalable, repeatable process that maximizes the ROI on your sales rep’s time.

14. GAP Selling Methodology

The GAP selling methodology was designed by James Keenan, CEO of A Sales Guy Inc.

This sales method aims to identify the gap between where a lead is and where you want that lead to be to close on the sale.

You then place a value on that gap, giving you an idea of how much time and money it will cost to convert that lead.

You can then get a better picture of how much that lead will be worth when it converts into a sale.

This type of sales technique also has a value-driven component. If you can identify how a product or service you’re selling will bridge that gap, demonstrating this to your lead adds value to their sales cycle.

15. Value Selling Methodology

The Value selling methodology is a simple framework. The methodology behind it is to focus on your most valuable leads first.

Chasing leads that are never going to convert into sales represents a huge cost to large organizations.

This process is best suited to organizations attracting many new leads into their pipeline but struggle to allocate resources to the most valuable leads.

You will need to encourage your sales reps to open with the right questions to identify how serious or far along in the sales cycle a customer is.

They can then either peruse the lead and take them further into the pipeline or simply make a date in the calendar to follow up with them when they’ve made a decision.

16. Winning by Design Selling Methodology

Jacco van der Kooij developed the Winning by Design selling methodology. This type of selling takes a scientific and data-driven approach to analyze what’s working and scale it.

The framework for this methodology revolves around the following steps:

  • Benchmark your company performance and gain insights with sales intelligence tools
  • Create processes based on data-driven insights into sales performance
  • Use sales intelligence to identify coaching needs to improve your sales reps’ performance
  • Double down and allocate more resources to the “winning” processes


While all these sales methodologies are helpful, in this day and age, you need to be armed with data and intelligence to do exactly what improves your odds of winning.

That’s where SetSail comes in.

SetSail is a Revenue Execution platform that focuses on the actions that reps need to take to drive more revenue.

SetSail is relied on by huge global brands like HubSpot, Cisco, and Dropbox. It’s built to help you gain insights into how your sales team is performing and ways you can improve productivity and performance. Tour the product →