Sales Process vs. Sales Methodology

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Sales Process vs Methodology

What is the difference?

If you’ve heard the phrase “sales process,” you’ve probably also heard the phrase “sales methodology.” There's a difference -- and it’s important to understand.

  • “Sales process” refers to the specific, concrete set of actions your team follows to close a new customer.
  • “Sales methodology” refers to the framework for how different parts of your sales process are actually carried out.

The next natural question -- do you need both? The answer is probably, "Yes." While your sales process is the high-level map of steps your team takes, within each step, you should be aware of the different methodologies that can guide how members of your team actually approach the sales process.

Popular Sales Methodologies
It’s worth considering the finer points of how your team should carry out their day-to-day selling activities. Choosing a sales methodology sets the foundation for your sales team as they approach their work.

Challenger Sales Methodology
The Challenger Sale” is a sales methodology that rose to popularity after Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson published a book by the same name. “Challengers” are characterized by their willingness to learn about a customers’ business, and to push the customer or challenge their preconceptions during the sales process.

Solution Selling
First popularized in the late 1970s and early 1980s, solution selling focuses on the customer's pain instead of his or her own company's products. Products are framed as solutions, and emphasis is placed on achieving agreement on what a resolution of the customer's pain would look like.

Sandler Sales Methodology
The Sandler Sales Methodology treats the buyer and seller as equally invested in the sales process. Sandler reps are trained to address objections early, so valuable time is saved for both parties. Instead of the seller convincing the buyer to make a purchase, in the Sandler methodology, the buyer is almost convincing the seller to sell to them.

Consultative Selling
An outgrowth of solution selling, consultative selling also became popular during the 1980s. Consultative selling places the emphasis on the salesperson becoming a “trusted advisor” to the customer, gaining authority and trust over time.

Inbound Sales Methodology

Inbound Selling
The inbound sales approach is characterized by “attracting” buyers with tailored, relevant content, instead of throwing irrelevant messages and advertising at them and hoping they'll buy. With so many choices in today's marketplace, it's important for sales teams to put the needs of their buyers ahead of their own needs. This approach was born from the believe that:

  • Buyers can now find most of the information they need about a company's products or services before they ever engage a salesperson.
  • Buyers have gotten better and better at blocking out cold and interruptive sales techniques (cold calls and irrelevant sales emails, for example.)
  • Buyers have heightened expectations around the experience of buying. They will control the experience, and they will move through the process largely on their own timeline.


These shifts are all examples of how buyers have seized control of the sales process from the sales reps who once held all the power. With these changes in mind, it's important for sales teams to adopt a more helpful, human approach to selling. We think of this as inbound selling.

to ponder...

How you sell matters.
What your process is matters.
But, how your customers feel when they engage with you
Matters More.

Tiffany Bova

Sales + Marketing

Sales Marries Marketing

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