Over the years, businesses have used many selling techniques to reframe their sales process and improve performance. Depending on the organization, its market, and other factors, some of these methodologies — including those with decades of history behind them — remain effective.
If you use the right sales technique that elevates customers and enables them to solve their problems, then the key to sales success is yours.
But which exactly is the right B2B sales technique or methodology for your company?
Sales techniques are not created equal. What works well for one company might seriously constrict another’s pipeline and profit. It’s for you to discover which one matches your business and has a good chance of bolstering your key performance indicators (KPIs).
Here’s a rundown of the more popular B2B sales techniques that might pack the energy your team needs.
Tracing its roots from Xerox’s enterprise market in the 1980s, Solution Selling is a well-established sales methodology that focuses on the uniqueness of buyer situations and the need for building high-impact, tailored solutions that deliver relevant benefits.
To build a custom solution, practitioners of this technique rarely sell off-the-shelf products. Rather, they often engage customers in deep, probing conversations to discover, isolate, and understand their pain points, and to establish the standards for an acceptable solution. Solution sellers never recite a litany of product features, capabilities, and benefits before knowing what the prospect actually needs.
Solution Selling entails meeting prospects where they are and developing unique solutions that address their specific problems or goals. This method helped shape the best practices for B2B sales (i.e., isolate customer issues, personalize solutions, etc.).
This B2B sales strategy originated from the categorization of sales professionals into five types as detailed in the book, The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.
These seller types are:
According to the authors, challenger-type sellers represent the most successful group.
The Challenger Sale Method leverages disruptive challenges, thought-provoking insights, and impactful opportunities to compel a group of prospective shareholders towards a particular action or mindset. Using a three-step approach (Teach - Tailor - Take), Challenger Sale practitioners prefer to educate and “challenge” prospects about industry risks and market opportunities instead of just hearing out their problems. In fact, sellers using this method are the ones who establish what clients actually need.
A Challenger Sales practitioner teaches prospects about the industry in general as well as the specific cross-currents that affect their business. To generate consensus, the seller tailors her communication for each shareholder. She then takes control of the conversation to drive the desired business outcomes.
Account-Based Sales (ABS) is a technique that focuses on premium clients, runs on buyer-centricity, and provides end-to-end, hyper-personalized customer experiences. Practitioners of ABS treat each customer account — and the shareholders who lead it — as a market of one and thus fully entitled to all relevant resources the seller company normally allocates for entire customer segments.
Aimed at nurturing high-value clients as independent revenue streams over long life cycles, ABS involves several teams simultaneously engaging a single prospective organization. This B2B sales strategy uses multiple touchpoints and precise engagement tactics that meet customers where they are and to push the right behavioral buttons in the right context at the right time. Also called Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Account-Based Everything (ABE).
Value-Based Selling and its trademarked variant ValueSelling Framework focus on establishing, reinforcing, and articulating the value you offer to qualified prospects. Your business value should be measurable (preferably as ROI), and may be presented in a number of ways: productivity or efficiency improvements, cost savings, or actual revenue add.
Value-Based Selling leverages the relative importance of a product or service to the prospective company — not its actual cost. As such, Value-Selling often serves as the favored method for explaining or justifying product price to qualified B2B sales leads. When done right, Value-Based Selling reduces the likelihood or level of push back on pricing. Key to its success are lead qualification, value differentiation and positioning, and deal closing.
In contrast to transactional selling, in Consultative Selling the seller assumes the role of an expert consultant who guides the buyer — through active listening and asking questions — towards the right product that solves a particular problem.
The approach is investigatory and the primary aim is to make the buyer happy, not to merely make a sale (as is the case with transactional selling).
In consultative selling engagements, sellers provide all the necessary information to enable buyers to make the right decisions for themselves.
In a sense, Solution Selling may be considered an advanced form of Consultative Selling (which emerged earlier in the 1970s) given their identical emphasis on the trust-based relationship between buyer and seller.