A business sales team requires direction, guidance, and knowledge to hit the bull’s eye. Great conversion rates and sales margins don’t come by accident — there’s a science to winning at sales.
David H Sandler understood this a long time ago and devised a methodology to help sales professionals ace their targets.
His sales methodology ensures uniformity across the entire sales team, creates a systematic and scalable sales funnel, and helps to scale the sales strategies to dynamic business environments.
In this article, we are going to discuss Sandler’s sales methodology and how its seven steps can transform your business.
What is Sandler’s Sales Methodology?
Sandler’s Selling Methodology was developed by David H Sandler in 1967. It is a seven-step consultative selling system invented by Sandler for successful selling. He identified three key issues with sales prospecting.
- Wasting time on inappropriate prospects who won’t benefit from the products or services.
- Wasting time on giving free advice to non-customers, who have no intentions of buying.
- Getting a premature ‘no’ or a very slow ‘yes’.
Sandler devised a sales strategy to eliminate these concerns, that focuses on building a trustworthy relationship between the customer and the sales representative.
The seven-step consultative selling approach focuses on three key stages: prospect qualification, building a good relationship with prospects, and closing the sales.
David Sandler described his sales strategy using the analogy of a submarine.
When something goes wrong and water floods into a submarine, the crew members move through the ship’s compartments one at a time, shutting the door to the previous compartment to prevent the floodwater from progressing through the rest of the ship.
Similarly, in Sandler’s sales method, each stage of the sales process is designed to be treated as a compartment to be passed through, one at a time, to arrive safely at a closed deal. Once moved forward, going back to the previous stage risks sinking the whole ship of the selling process.
Sandler used this analogy to build his sales methodology and make the selling process easier and smoother.
7 Steps To Success From Sandler’s Sales Methodology
Now, let’s get to the heart of it.
How does Sandler’s sales methodology work?
Sandler’s sales methodology may seem similar to conventional sales methodology at a glance. But the key difference lies in focusing on the qualification stage rather than the closing stage.
When implemented well, Sandler’s sales methodology can effectively decrease the length of your sales process, and improve profits.
The following are the seven steps of Sandler’s sales methodology.
#1. Establishing bonding and rapport
The primary stage of Sandler’s sales methodology focuses on building a good communication base with prospects. The salesperson will ask various questions about the prospect’s current status and requirements.
You can’t win the sales on a discovery call, but you can certainly lose it. So the initial conversation should not be concentrated on pitching the product/service, but rather on building a good rapport with the prospect.
Building trust through honest discussions and inquisitive questions is the key. This bond will eventually lead the prospect to buy the product in the future, if not at present.
Don’t mislead the prospect in any way. It would act as a red flag to the sales deal.
Salespeople should ask penetrative questions to understand the buyer’s perspective in-depth as below:
- I see your company has recently launched ABC. How long did it take to accomplish it?
- What is the impact of the new acquisition on your company?
- How are things going at your end?
Questions like these show that the sales rep is keenly interested in the prospect’s business. It also positions the sales rep as an expert in the industry and builds credibility.
Open and honest conversation can act as an icebreaker between the customer and the sales rep and can truly build a healthy relationship between both parties.
#2. Setting an up-front contract
Once a healthy relationship is established, it is important to set ground rules that would work for both parties to do business in a comfortable environment. This helps in setting clear expectations on both the rep’s and the prospect’s side.
Sandler’s method encourages the creation of a contract before every meeting with the prospect, including these components: objective, rep’s agenda, prospect’s agenda, meeting timeline, and expected outcome of the meeting.
Some grounding questions that can be asked to the prospect are as below:
- Do you have 30 mins to discuss the next steps with me?
- Today we will be discussing this. Do you have any questions or suggestions before we start?
- At the end of our meeting, if both of us are okay to move on to the next stage, we can decide on further matters. Is that ok for you?
Setting up clear upfront contracts portrays that you respect everyone’s time, as well as helps in setting the prospect’s expectations right from the beginning.
#3. Identifying the prospect’s pain
This stage focuses on finding the pain points of the prospects by the salesperson asking probing questions because you can’t serve them a solution without knowing their problem.
Here the salesperson acts as a consultant and tries to understand things from the prospect’s point of view. The sales rep digs deep into the responses received from prospects and analyzes them to get to the very root of the problem.
This step helps the sales rep to understand their prospect’s true needs and shortlist if their product/service can actually serve their requirements.
Understanding the pain points of the prospect will help the sales rep to adapt their sales strategy to suit the scenario.
On the other hand, if the sales rep understands that their product/service doesn’t serve as a solution to their prospect’s issue, then the rep can no longer waste time on falsely convincing them, and rather move on to find a more appropriate prospect.
A series of open-ended questions designed to uncover the prospect’s requirements could be as below:
- What’s your single biggest concern right now?
- Can you tell me more about this problem?
- How long have you been facing the issue?
- What have you tried to do about it? Did it work?
- How much do you think it costs you?
- How are you planning to address the issue?
- Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?
#4. Uncovering the prospect’s budget
Sandler has devised this step keeping in mind the fact that there’s no point in trying to sell a product or service to a person who can’t afford it.
This step establishes the client’s budget requirements as a pre-qualification step to clear off unwanted negotiations at the last minute. This step focuses on discovering if the prospect is willing to and can afford to invest time, money, and resources to fix the problem.
On average, 50% of the prospects won’t be a good fit for your sales. So it is better to identify them in the initial run, so as to shortlist and focus on the right prospects who can actually buy from you.
Reps should ask budgetary questions to qualify the prospect such as below:
- What is the financial impact this issue brings you?
- How much are you ready to invest to solve this problem?
- What would be the consequence if the issue is not resolved?
- Are they having the time and resources to fix the issue?
- What are the secondary impacts of this issue in the long run?
#5. Defining decision-makers
It’s unlikely that the prospect will be the sole decision-maker involved in the business. So it is important for the sales rep to find out who else is involved in the decision-making process, what the whole process will look like, and how long it will take.
Studies show that the more decision-makers you involve in the deal, the higher are chances of closing the deal.
Ask the prospects penetrative questions about the decision-making process to get a clear idea of how likely you are to close the deal such as the below ones:
- What does the entire buying process look like?
- Who will be involved in the decision-making?
- Do you think you are ready to decide at this stage?
- Should I schedule a meeting with other concerned people before finalizing the deal?
#6. Presenting your fulfillment of the agreement
This is the beginning of the sales closing stage. The sales rep can present the proposal to the prospect, keeping in mind all the requirements, pain points, and budget of the prospect.
Remember that this process is all about fulfilling the client’s needs. The sales rep needs to present their product as a tailor-made solution to the prospect’s true needs that were discovered throughout the qualification stage.
The key to winning this stage is to use all the information gathered during the qualifying process and tailor the products or services to adapt to the customer’s comfort.
#7. Confirming the post-sell process
This is the last stage of Sandler’s Sales Methodology where the sales rep will continue to provide support and ensure that the prospect has chosen the right product or service.
This stage helps to ensure that the prospects don’t suffer from buyer’s remorse. This is also a golden opportunity to cross-sell or upsell any product or service that may benefit the prospect.
However, don’t go overboard by pitching your services. The goal here is to maintain the credibility and trust that is earned so far.
Asking questions similar to the below ones will make them feel a gratifying sense of time and money well spent:
- How can we help you get started with it?
- What can we do to make sure you have an amazing experience?
- Do you have any questions or concerns about the process so far?
This concludes the seven core stages of Sandler’s sales methodology.
Why Is Sandler’s Sales Methodology Such a Winner?
Studies reveal that 88% of salespeople have enhanced their sales strategy with Sandler’s Sales Methodology, and 50% more salespeople hit quotas than those without Sandler.
The success of Sandler’s sales strategy is because it addresses both ends of the sales pipeline. It acknowledges the needs and feelings of the customer’s business rather than pushing the product or service to every prospect blindly.
Also qualifying the prospects in the initial stage of the sales cycle helps salespeople refrain from unfit leads, and focus only on the appropriate prospects.
Thus, it makes both the seller and buyer to be equally invested in the sales process. This in turn shortens and smoothens the entire sales process, saving time and effort for both parties.
Building trustworthy relationships between salesperson and their prospects help in creating a good brand reputation and elevate sales in the future as well.
Traditional sales focused on selling products or services only, whereas Sandler’s sales methodology focused on selling advice and assistance and positions the salesperson as an expert in the topic.
The extra emphasis on the prospect qualification stage rather than on the deal closing stage stands as a significant feature of Sandler’s method.
Another key difference between Sandler’s sales methodology and other sales methodologies is the low-pressure comfortable environment it provides to both parties.
Unlike high-pressure sales tactics, the salesperson positions himself as a consultant in the relevant topic and focuses on building healthy relationships. This makes it easier for the buyer to trust the salesperson and buy his products and services.
Who Can Implement Sandler’s Sales Methodology?
Sandler’s method can be implemented into sales teams of any size across almost any industry.
However, it requires salespeople to have in-depth knowledge of the industry to position themselves as an expert and consultant. They must be aware of the industry, common issues that arise in the market, and the potential solutions to those problems.
The sales team in the company can be trained on Sandler’s methodology. Then these methods can be tailored to suit the needs of the business.
It is not necessary that Sandler’s sales method be implemented A-Z in a new fashion. Instead, it can be incorporated into the existing sales process of your company by tweaking the strategy a little bit.
Is Sandler’s Sales Methodology Worth It?
Sandler’s sales methodology is a sales strategy that can assist your business to flourish with its sequential and effective process. However, it requires sufficient training, competence, and professional skill to implement it strategically.
When implemented well, Sandler’s sales methodology can do wonders for your company’s sales funnel, increasing the sales profit multifold.
Happy selling 😄