Are you a top-performing salesperson looking to take your sales process to the next level? Direct mail, cold calls and in-person meetings are becoming a thing of the past, due to their time, cost and resource inefficiencies.
As sales technology and tools evolve, it’s simpler than ever before to build a pipeline from your desk. Today, you can research prospects, keep track of all of your contacts and engage with them on multiple digital channels. Social selling, for example, is no longer a buzzword or a time-wasting activity — it’s one of the most effective ways of connecting with your target decision-makers.
So, with sales technology and innovative solutions giving you all the time and resource savings imaginable, you should have even more time to sell. But, how can you maximise the impact of technology? A suitable, modern sales strategy is the key to this.
Let’s take a look at modern sales approaches, the benefits and some examples that you can begin to adopt.
What is a modern sales method?
Modern sales techniques not only make things easier to manage for the sales team, but they more closely meet the needs of modern customers. As new generations of buyers come into decision-making roles, (hello, millennials!), the approach to selling should be modernised to meet their needs and expectations.
In general, modern sales methods:
- Are influenced by environmental factors
- Are more focused on creating a long-term relationship
- Require tailored information in sales pitches and presentations
- Involve the prospects more, with salespeople taking a more active role in the sales process.
What are the benefits of a modern sales approach?
There are plenty of benefits to modernising your sales approach:
- It’s easier to search for, identify and research prospects
- Social selling, when done right, creates a position of thought leadership and expertise for the salesperson
- Can help reel in other prospects organically
- Provides valuable information and support
- Makes regular engagement with prospects easier
- Helps create ongoing, strong relationships with current customers
- Generates more referrals and additional opportunities
- Often creates a shorter buying journey.
The best modern sales approaches
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best and most common sales approaches.
Popularised by Neil Rackham’s 1988 book ‘Spin Selling’, the SPIN method stands for:
- Situation: Gathering information
- Problem: Identify pains and problems experienced
- Implication: Demonstrate how those problems should be solved
- Need payoff: Let them conclude the solution to their problem on their own.
Neil Rackham studied over 35,000 sales calls over 12 years across 23 countries and found that traditional sales techniques such as talking just about a product’s benefits weren’t enough to close a deal.
Rackham encourages sales professionals to use ‘SPIN’ as the guidance for the types of questions that should be asked. So starting with situation questions to understand their current tools and processes in place to the need payoff questions which highlight a simpler way.
Advocates of the SPIN selling technique encourage sales representatives to ask fewer situation and problem questions and to focus their attention on the implication and need payoff stages to secure a sale.
This modern approach to sales focuses on building value as a trusted advisor in order to make larger sales. However, while a very useful guide, it’s important to modernise this approach even further by using social selling, LinkedIn and a trusted CRM to make the process smoother.
The challenger sale
More recently than SPIN selling, the challenger sales approach has come to the fore in the last decade or so.
“The Challenger Sale: How To Take Control of the Customer Conversation” was published in 2011 and written by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon. They interviewed thousands of B2B sales reps across 90 countries to understand whether relationship-building was still a prevalent and successful approach to selling.
During their research, they found that all sales reps fit into one of five categories and sales personas: The challenger, the hard worker, the relationship builder, the lone wolf and the problem solver. Each sales profile has its own attributes, strengths and advantages.
However, the challenger was found to be the most effective of the five types of sales reps, particularly in complex selling environments. The authors discovered that 40% of top-performing sales reps primarily used the challenger style. A further study by Gartner in 2019 showed that now challenger sales profiles make up almost 50% of top-performers.
Challenger sales reps adopt a ‘T-T-T’ sales tactic: Teach, Tailor and Take control.
- Teach: The salesperson teaches the prospective customer or client about a problem they may not be aware of, with a new perspective solution.
- Tailor: Next, they tailor the sale for each prospect, based on their value drivers, wants and needs.
- Take control: Finally, at this point, the experienced sales rep will take control of the sale by offering the tailored solution to the customer. They will take control of pricing discussions and apply pressure to get organisational buy-in and a sale.
The challenger sales methodology is similar to SPIN selling because they both use a consultative approach to driving complex sales. However, the consultative sales method adopts provocative selling techniques. It’s not for the faint of heart!
Consultative or solution selling
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are some differences between solution selling vs consultative selling.
|Factors||Solution Selling||Consultative Selling|
|Sales motivation||Focused on the sale||Focused on trying to help the customer to reach a sales decision only if appropriate — creating customer success is key|
|Customer relationship||Built on authority and expertise||Built on trust|
|Era||The 1970s||The 1980s|
|Sales type||Hard sale||Soft sale|
Solution selling focuses on the sale and selling the solution to the client (sometimes regardless of their needs or means). Consultative selling adopts an approach that will sell the right product to the right customer, but only if it’s right for them. The consultative selling approach breeds trust and authenticity, while solution selling is a harder sale.
In terms of a modern approach to selling, the consultative technique more closely addresses the needs of the modern buying process where prospects are already quite familiar with the products and options out there prior to speaking to a sales rep. That’s why asking the right consultative questions is key to demonstrating expertise and closing sales with modern buyers.
The Sandler sales method
While we’re looking at modern sales techniques, the Sandler Selling System was developed back in 1967, over 50 years ago, by David Sandler. Again, it’s not too different from the SPIN selling and challenger sales methods. There is a common theme among them.
The focus of this method is for sales reps to act as consultants, not as pushy salespeople. The Sandler Selling System has seven steps:
- Bonding and rapport building: Establishing a bond and connection based on openness and honesty
- Upfront contracts: Setting ground rules early on by establishing roles and expectations
- Pain: Qualifying the potential buyer by identifying pain points and current issues
- Budget: Instead of discussing this towards the end of the sales process, this sales technique brings it up early as part of qualification — are your prospective buyers willing to invest the time, money and resources into fixing their issue?
- Decision: Discussing the decision-making process, who needs to be involved, etc.
- Fulfilment: Closing by proposing your product or service as the solution
- Post-sell: Sealing the deal and closing the sale. Then establishing the next steps to keep the buyer engaged.
The last of our modern methods is SNAP selling. This approach to sales stems from the book “Snap Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers” authored by Jill Konrath in 2010.
SNAP is broken down into four pointers for effective selling.
- Keep it simple
- Be i(n)valuable
- Always align
- Raise priorities
Again, this is about selling to modern B2B buyers. This strategic selling approach works by helping salespeople reach busy prospects with valuable knowledge and quickly connect the prospect’s needs with what the salesperson is selling.
SPIN selling is focused on making it easy for customers to buy. It is all about haste, quick decisions and a short sales cycle.
Modern sales approaches compared
In summary, here’s a quick and simple guide to the benefits and drawbacks of each modern sales approach.
|SPIN selling||Encourages customers to explore their pain points and needs|
Drives ideal buyers to define the solution
Forced sales aren’t needed as the buyer is already convinced
Good for large deals and complex sales cycles
Involves a lot of involved communication
Needs in-depth product or service knowledge to sell effectively
No automation of the SPIN selling process
|The challenger sale||Offers a new perspective to prospects|
Prioritises customer’s needs
Doesn’t shy away from conversations about budget or cost
Tactfully pressures the client using the T-T-T model
Loves to debate and challenge
Generates trust and authority
|Debating and challenging the prospect may feel uncomfortable on both sides|
No focus on relationship-building
Not suitable for transactional selling or smaller sales deals
Some customers may be put off by the direct and challenging approach to their status quo
|Consultative selling||Prioritises the needs of the customer|
Sales reps act as consultants rather than salespeople Customer-centric Adds extra value
|Longer sales cycles|
Not always a high close rate
Customer-centric focus and honesty mean product or service might not be right for them
|The Sandler sales method||Successfully uncovers the needs of the prospect|
Builds a strong client relationship
Sometimes leads to deals where the customer feels that it was their idea
|The customer may take advantage and gain free insights and consulting with no intention to buy|
No automation process
Not suitable for all sales environments
|SNAP selling||A quick process with a short sales cycle|
Good for busy decision-makers
Fewer interactions but high-quality conversations instead
|No real concrete outline or information for the sales process|
Focus on haste may not be suitable for all prospects
What are the selling skills every salesperson should master?
Modern salespeople should focus on active listening, pre-qualifying prospects to make warm calls and connections. They should also focus on the features and benefits of the product as well as the prospect’s needs and aim to ace social selling for research and engagement purposes.
What is a traditional selling approach?
Traditional sales approaches aren’t typically focused on the needs of the prospect or potential buyer. They are often quite forceful, interrupting the buyer’s day and rarely focusing on whether or not the product or service is right for them.
What is the difference between traditional sales and modern sales?
Modern sales approaches are more resourceful and less time-intensive than traditional sales. As such, they tend to be more successful, less pushy and convert more often.
It’s clear nowadays that the modern buyer doesn’t want to be sold to or pushed to make a purchase. Instead, they want to be educated. This is why modern sales approaches work so well. They often focus on matching the needs of the customer with the benefits of the product or solution.
By leveraging modern technology and platforms, modern salespeople are much more efficient with their time and can more easily reach their sales targets and revenue goals. And, if you want to boost that sales pipeline even quicker, try fullinfo today. We can help you start conversations with your ideal prospects straight away!