Improve Sales Revenue with HIRO Pipeline

If you’ve noticed a disconnect between your sales and marketing initiatives, or searched for ways to make every marketing dollar more effective, you’re not alone. Traditional marketing campaigns can generate a huge volume of low-quality leads, making it far too easy for high-quality leads to get lost in the shuffle.

Even worse, sales teams and marketing teams end up working toward completely different metrics, even competing against each other, when they should be working toward the same goal: generate more sales.

The high intent revenue opportunity (HIRO) pipeline addresses this disconnect through standardized criteria that identifies highly qualified leads in order to sell more effectively. We’ll cover the basics in the paragraphs below, as well as link to a few resources with more information on this pivotal marketing and sales methodology.

Read on to learn how to use the HIRO framework to improve sales revenue by marketing more effectively.

HIRO Pipeline vs. Marketing Qualified Leads

In many companies, marketing and sales teams work as separate units, and their productivity is measured by completely different metrics. This can lead to inflated ad spend, marketing campaigns that seem effective (due to their high click-through rates) but don’t actually lead to more sales, and a lack of clarity for both departments overall.

In this very typical scenario, the marketing team is generating a high volume of low-intent, low-quality marketing qualified leads (MQL), and every lead is treated the exact same way: funneled through a multi-step process designed to keep your product top-of-mind if and when they decide to buy.

The problem with this method is that, inevitably, a few high-quality leads that are ready to buy immediately are mixed in and pushed though the same multi-step process as the multitude of low-quality leads. This can be frustrating for potential customers who already made the decision to buy, but now have to jump through multiple hoops to do so. It can even result in a loss of sales.

The HIRO pipeline framework was developed by Chris Walker and the team at Refine Labs to address this disconnect and help sales teams sell more effectively.

What is HIRO Pipeline?

The HIRO framework was designed to give B2B marketing professionals a standardized benchmark for qualifying pipeline sources. A pipeline source is defined as HIRO at whatever stage it reaches a consistent close rate of at least 25%. However, this tool for tracking conversion rates and customer acquisition can be applied to advertising as well as marketing strategies.

This framework helps you identify which lead sources are bringing in high-quality leads and which ones aren’t, and at what stage they become high-intent revenue opportunities.

Using the HIRO framework allows you to fine-tune your ad spend to prioritize the lead sources that mean the most to your bottom line. It can also help identify additional means of demand generation, create more customized sales processes, and ultimately make every marketing dollar more effective.

Marketing for HIRO Pipeline:

While the finer points of marketing for HIRO pipeline can be complex, the overall strategy is fairly simple.

  1. Realize that most of your market isn’t ready to buy. Create demand by educating them on what makes your company and product stand out.
  2. Once a lead decides to buy, convert that into a meeting. Don’t make them jump through hoops or wade through a multiple-step sales sequence if they meet your Ideal Client Profile allow them to instantly book a meeting with your sales team.
  3. Track win rates for each opportunity/deal stage. When a stage has a 25% win rate to closed won, that pipeline source is considered HIRO. Optimize your marketing efforts toward this opportunity/deal stage.

The Undeniable Power of Self-Attribution

Another vital component of HIRO pipeline is self-attribution. Put simply, when a lead expresses an intent to buy by booking a meeting, give them the opportunity to self-identify how they heard about your product or service.

While it isn’t going to be as precise as other, more traditional forms of attribution measurement, self-attribution data is invaluable when it comes to measuring the reach of dark social (that is, shares or recommendations from friend-to-friend or colleague-to-colleague that are hard to track using traditional tracking methods), and it gives key insight into which demand generation efforts are most effective.

Once you’ve identified different demand generation streams, you can compare HIRO pipeline stages (stages with a win rate of 25% or more). This will give you a much clearer picture of the actual value of your marketing efforts.

To Recap HIRO Pipeline:

  1. Create demand by educating leads about your product and company.
  2. Capture demand through a scheduling link or form when a lead declares intent to buy.
  3. Convert demand into a closed won deal through a highly efficient sales process.
  4. Expand and retain current accounts through account management and customer service efforts.

As you implement this method, over time you’ll be able to refocus your marketing spend and make every marketing dollar work more effectively.

Benefits of Using the HIRO Pipeline Framework:

  • Unify sales and marketing efforts by connecting them with a pipeline metric tied to win rate.
  • Allow marketers to operate in dark social – sharing social content and recommendations without requiring direct response lead generation activities.
  • Improve buyer experience by engaging with the buyer as soon as they’ve expressed intent to buy from you.
  • Scale better and faster than traditional MQL methods, meaning fewer leads are required to make a sale.
  • Be challenged to look at outbound sales differently, and more easily see new and better opportunities to create demand.
  • Make your sales and marketing campaigns more efficient and cost-effective over time.


The HIRO pipeline framework helps companies identify their most profitable lead sources, enabling them to better prioritize ad spend, streamline sales and marketing efforts, and find new ways to create demand for products and services.

The four core actions of HIRO pipeline are: creating demand, capturing demand, converting demand, and retaining/expanding accounts with current customers. The HIRO pipeline method is an efficient and profitable alternative to traditional MQL generation methods.

Paired with powerful sales tools, sales automation, a robust customer relationship management (CRM) software, and other sales solutions, the HIRO framework will help drive growth and give your team what they need to strategically apply their efforts and maximize their sales skills.

Additional HIRO Pipeline Resources:

Want to learn more about HIRO pipeline? Here are a few resources we found helpful:

The Challenger Sale — How to Navigate Complex Sales Conversations

Read it here: AmazonAudibleBookshop

Whether you’re looking for a quick overview to get started, or have already read it and need a refresher, this summary of The Challenger Sale is designed to give you the key highlights of this proven sales methodology.

The Five Types of Sales Reps, According to The Challenger Sale

In the Challenger sales model, all sales reps fall into five categories. These categories are not static – a rep can belong to one category while sharing characteristics with other categories. Also, because many of these are skill-based, by growing their skill set, a rep’s type can change over time.

The five types of sales reps listed in The Challenger Sale are:

  1. Hard Worker – The sales reps who believe that simply by putting in more hours than anyone else they will pull in more deals or revenue.
  2. Lone Wolf – These are the reps that pull in huge numbers, often out of instinct rather than any methodology. They don’t like to be managed, and typically don’t play well with others, but are tolerated because they constantly outperform their peers.
  3. Reactive Problem Solver – These reps are excellent problem solvers, but they tend to focus more on providing excellent customer service than generating new sales.
  4. Relationship Builder – These sales reps are focused on building strong networks of relationships with their clients, but because they tend to avoid conflict or debate, they don’t sell as much as they could.
  5. Challenger– Challenger reps are assertive debaters who develop a deep understanding of customer needs.

Each of these types can be low achievers, but many sales managers would be surprised to learn that Challenger Reps typically lead the pack in terms of performance while Relationship Builders tend to be some of the lowest performing reps overall. That’s one of the main reasons we recommend the Challenger methodology to clients dealing with complex sales.

So how do you find (or become!) a Challenger Rep? The good news is — anyone can be taught to be a Challenger — these types of reps are made, not born. The Challenger sales model is based on demonstrated behaviors. It’s not about who you are but what you do.

Essential Skills for Becoming a Challenger Rep

There are three key things that Challenger Reps do well:

  • They teach prospects something new and valuable about how to compete in their market.
  • They tailor their sales pitch to resonate with each stakeholder’s hot-button issues.
  • They take control of the sales process by creating constructive tension and a sense of urgency.


While most sales reps start the conversation talking about their own product and company, Challenger Reps focus on teaching the prospect something new and valuable about a problem or opportunity their business is facing.

After fully understanding the prospect’s situation, a Challenger Rep provides an expert perspective gained from their broader view of the industry.

6 Steps of a Teaching Conversation

There are six steps to a teaching conversation in the Challenger sales method:

  1. Warmer – After the initial introductions, a Challenger Rep lays out the challenges they’re seeing and hearing from other companies in the prospect’s industry, setting themselves up as the expert who is already knowledgeable about the prospect’s business.
  2. Reframe – This is the core of the conversation. Challenger Reps offer insights into the prospect’s company to make them aware of a new problem or opportunity at hand.
  3. Rational Drowning – In this step, a Challenger Rep provides data to support the identified problem or opportunity. This step is meant to be uncomfortable for the prospect, as they realize the full scope of what they’re facing.
  4. Emotional Impact – To really bring the issue home, Challenger Reps tell a story that is so relatable that the prospect can see themselves in it. This is the gut punch. At this point, the prospect should feel almost physically ill as they worry about the problem that was brought to life by storytelling.
  5. New Way – After driving the issue home, the Challenger Rep starts to alleviate the prospect’s concern by delivering a solution. This is still not about the rep’s company; it’s strictly about the range of solutions available to the prospect.
  6. Your Solution – Now and only now do Challenger Reps mention their company and their specific solution. This is where they say “Here is how we can fix the problem.”

Challenger Reps reveal the problem, then provide insight and a solution that eventually leads back to the unique strengths that the rep’s product or company has to offer.

To increase urgency, the Challenger Rep then drives home the cost of INaction. At no point in the conversation is a rep justifying the cost of their product. Instead, the focus is on what will happen if the prospect does not do anything.

Every part of the conversation is focused on driving the prospect to take action.

To recap teaching:

  • Identify the problem the prospect doesn’t know about.
  • Identify the solution that leads to your company’s unique strengths.
  • Explain the cost of INaction.


Being a Challenger Rep is about more than just teaching. To truly resonate with their prospect, Challenger Reps tailor their message to the individual in front of them. Their sales pitch is tailored to each person they speak with, and that person’s unique priorities as it relates to their position in the prospect’s company.

In complex sales, it’s unusual to get a direct line to the top decision maker. Challenger Reps overcome this by tailoring their message to each individual stakeholder in the decision-making chain.

While the main content doesn’t change, the rep will highlight different features or tell different stories to connect individually with each stakeholder. While this might seem like too much work, it pays off in the long term as it makes each team member feel heard and valued.

Since team buy-in is often a key factor for top level decision makers, taking the time to make sure their entire team is on board makes them much more likely to pull the trigger when it’s time to purchase.

To recap tailoring:

  • Complex sales often require selling to multiple people in the decision-making chain.
  • Focus on the goals and needs of the individual in front of you, and use these to tailor your pitch and storytelling.
  • Remember that team buy-in is an important factor for top-level decision makers.

Taking Control

Teaching and tailoring are valuable, but taking control is the step that makes Challenger Reps rise above the rest.

While many sales reps avoid taking control – either from their own lack of self-confidence or a desire to please the prospect, Challenger Reps sell with confidence because they know they’re adding value to the conversation. Taking control isn’t about being aggressive. It’s about being assertive and knowing how to stand your ground when a prospect pushes back.

Challenger Reps are comfortable pushing to the next stage of the deal. By taking the lead in the conversation, they’re equipped to challenge their prospect’s thinking, helping prospects focus on the areas of value offered without landing in the weeds of indecision or over-emphasis on the bottom line. Challenger Sales Reps are comfortable talking about money, and aren’t afraid to push.

To recap taking control:

  • Be confident in the value you provide to the prospect.
  • Own the conversation – don’t be afraid to take the lead and ask hard questions.
  • Help the prospect move toward action by creating a sense of urgency.

4 Key Principles of Challenger Sales

1. Challengers Are Made, Not Just Born

While some reps may lean naturally toward this style of selling, many will not. The good news is that the Challenger sales method can be taught, and reps can learn how to leverage constructive tension to move prospects into action.

2. It’s the Combination of Skills That Matters

Of the three challenger attributes — teaching, tailoring, and taking control — the power lies in the combination more than any particular part. If you teach without tailoring, you become irrelevant. If you tailor but don’t teach, you won’t really stand out from the competition. And if you take control without offering value, you’ll come off as bossy and unhelpful.

3. Challenging Is About Organizational Capability, Not Just Skills

In order to ensure a consistent message, the content of the teaching pitch needs to come from the organizational level, not just individual reps. By using a high-level view to categorize customer needs and insights, companies can equip their reps with resources tailored to each specific customer type, empowering reps to effectively take control of the sales interaction.

4. Building a Challenger Sales Force Won’t Happen Overnight

The Challenger sales method is an entirely different way of approaching sales, and the changes required won’t happen overnight. Moving to a Challenger model is a commercial transformation that takes time to get it right.


In this summary of The Challenger Sale, we’ve covered how to teach, tailor, and take control in complex sales conversations. You’ve learned the six steps of a teaching conversation, and how to tailor your pitch to encourage buy-in from the entire decision-making team. Of course, if you haven’t already, we highly recommend reading the book – find it on AmazonAudible, and Bookshop.

Interested in a blueprint on designing your own sales team? Purchase our Sales Team Starter today!

Predictable Revenue — How to Create a Successful Sales System

Order your copy: AmazonBookshopAudible

Need a Quick Overview of Predictable Revenue?

In the outline below, you’ll find highlights on:

  • The difference between different types of leads (and why it matters)
  • What to do instead of cold calling
  • Prospecting best practices
  • Sales best practices
  • The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process
  • How to increase call effectiveness without call scripts
  • How to create your own sales machine
  • Why specialization always wins
  • How to cultivate team talent
  • How to create alignment within your sales and leadership teams

Whether you don’t have time to read the book, or just need a quick refresher, this predictable revenue summary covers the key concepts you need to know to create your own successful sales system.

Know the Difference Between Seeds, Nets, and Spears

Before attempting to build your own sales machine capable of generating predictable revenue, it’s important to understand the different types of leads coming into your business. Leads fall into three categories: Seeds, Nets, and Spears.

Seeds are the most profitable type of lead, but they require a long-term approach and commitment. Seeds are created by developing happy customers and user groups, publishing helpful content online and on social media, boosting organic internet searches, and optimizing for SEO. All of these elements take time to cultivate, but once they’re in place you’ll enjoy a steady stream of word-of-mouth referrals and positive PR.

Nets generate leads through a one-size-fits-all, cast-it-out-and-see-what-you-catch approach. This style of lead generation is typically used by traditional marketing, including email campaigns, pay-per-click advertising, traditional advertising, and conferences. Nets can generate leads faster, but they still take time and don’t always generate predictable results.

Spears involve highly targeted outbound efforts, and a dedicated amount of human effort and interaction. Because of their time-intensive approach, it’s important to clearly define exactly what makes a lead a good fit. Otherwise, you may waste significant time “hunting” leads that won’t benefit from your offering after all.

The Better Alternative to Traditional Cold Calling

Traditional cold calling techniques involved dialing your way through poorly targeted lists, essentially rolling the dice over and over hoping to increase your odds of finding a good fit. Cold Calling 2.0 improves this process by leveraging technology to create highly targeted lists, using multichannel outreach to create a connection, and cultivating warm leads before you ever pick up the phone.


Create Highly Targeted Prospect Lists. Using Ideal Customer Profiles, define the qualities and characteristics that make up the top 5-10% of your customer base, meaning the ones who are most likely to purchase at the highest revenue. Then create highly targeted lists of prospects whose companies match the qualities in your Ideal Customer Profile.

Overcome the Biggest Obstacle to Prospecting

The biggest obstacle in prospecting isn’t getting to the decision maker, it’s figuring out who they are in the first place. To overcome this, call low in the company to get information, and email high in the company to ask for a referral to the best person to contact. A referral from above will open the doors to the right person, who is often already expecting your call.

Run Highly Effective Outbound Email Campaigns

Instead of sending mass emails hundreds at a time, have each rep send 50-100 emails per day, a few days each week, to the prospects on your highly targeted list. The goal of these rolling campaigns is to generate 5-10 new responses per day, enough for a rep to handle without dropping the ball.

Emails should be:

  • Text based (not fancy HTML)
  • Brief and easily readable on a mobile device
  • Simple, friendly, and to the point
  • Ask just one easy to answer question

In short, create an email that looks like a quick note from a friend, not a lengthy sales pitch.

Sell the Dream, Not the Solution

Selling the dream, in this case, means to help the prospect create a vision of a dream solution for whatever problem or challenge they are facing, and then to connect your product or service to their key business issues as part of their dream solution.

Ask open-ended questions about your prospect’s business and challenges. Avoid becoming too eager until you’re certain there’s a mutual fit. Until then, your biggest challenge is to stay focused on the prospect’s business and not your own product or service.

Cold Calling 2.0 is best for:
  • Companies who can have at least one person fully dedicated to prospecting, and:
  • A sales automation system/CRM
  • Prospects who use email
  • A proven product or service that has generated revenue
  • Customer lifetime values of $10,000 or more

Will Cold Calling 2.0 work for companies with lower customer lifetime values or those without a dedicated prospecting team? It will, but it may not be as profitable as it will be for companies who are a better fit.




Clarify Your Ideal Customer Profile

Define three to five key criteria that define your ideal customer, any red flags to watch out for, the type of ideal contact within that organization, and their core challenges.

Build Your Prospect List

You can DIY lead generation, but it’s better to use a hyper-targeted list creator like LeadFuze and other lead gen platforms to quickly generate lists that match your ideal customer profile.

Run Outbound Email Campaigns

Send 50-100 targeted mass emails a day. Use these emails to generate referrals to the right person in the company, then follow up on the referrals and responses with phone calls. Emails should be plain text, to the point, and ask just one simple question (for a referral).

Sell the Dream

The goal of selling the dream is not to “sell” them on your product or service. Instead, you want to help your prospect visualize a dream solution that will solve their problem, and then help them to connect your product to their issue as part of the solution.

Pass the Baton

Establish what exactly makes a lead qualified, then create and use a clearly defined process to hand off to the Account Executive who will then re-qualify and (ideally) close the prospect.

Ultimately, Cold Calling 2.0 is successful when sales reps use these systems consistently and focus their attention on actions that generate results.

Prospecting Best Practices

Intentionally design your day for success. To maintain enthusiasm, make sure to take a break every 90 minutes, take a full lunch break, and commit to stopping work at a set time every day.

Use these tactics to avoid common prospecting mistakes:

  • Make sure your expectations are realistic. Even short sales cycles can take upwards of two to four weeks.
  • Keep your emails bite-sized and honest, and only ask one question per message. Writing long, overly detailed emails, and/or using gimmicky sales tactics will only hurt you in the long run.
  • Send emails before 9am and after 5pm, and avoid sending on Fridays and Mondays.
  • Go deep instead of wide. Consistent effort with targeted accounts is going to be the best use of your time.
  • Don’t give up too quickly on targets that are a good fit.
  • Don’t linger too long with non-ideal targets that aren’t a good fit.
  • Make sure you’re tracking the right metrics. Don’t just throw activity at a goal; measure actions that are proven to get results.
  • Call low to learn about the company.
  • Email high to get referred down to the right person.
  • Remember you’re a non-threatening researcher, not an insensitive, pushy salesperson.

Carve out time each week for activities that are important but not urgent. Like eating right and exercising, if you don’t make time for something it won’t happen. Don’t fall into the trap of being so busy that you don’t get anything done.

Sales Best Practices

Sales used to be all about promotion, and involved controlling and manipulating prospects just to get a sale. The actual product didn’t matter. But the advent of the internet changed sales forever, putting power in the hands of the buyers.

Great companies and salespeople have recognized this change and switched to using attraction instead. Instead of pushing people toward a sale, attraction is a much gentler and respectful process that is focused on adding real value to the prospect before, during, and long after the sale. This creates long-term relationships, referrals, and goodwill and trust toward you and your company as a whole.

Instead of obsessing about closing, become passionate about helping your customers succeed. Selling with your prospects’ success in mind will help you pull them through a buying journey rather than push them through a sales cycle.

You’ll also want to focus on the decision-making process, rather than putting too much emphasis on the decision maker.

You can do this by asking questions like:

  • How have you evaluated similar products or services?
  • Who is involved in making this decision?
  • What are the most important factors in the purchase decision?

Don’t hold back on building a relationship with the decision maker, just keep your questions focused on learning the process and gathering information rather than instantly closing the deal.

The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process

The Predictable Revenue 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process is based on answering three simple questions to determine fit and the prospect’s willingness and ability to move forward.

In a nutshell, the process looks like this:


Connect with the prospect in a quick, 15 minute call. This is the time to ask targeted questions that will answer the question “Is this a waste of time?” If the answer is no, move on to Step Two.


Schedule a one hour discovery call with one or two of the prospect’s point people. The purpose of this call is to determine “Is there a fit?” If the answer is no, the process stops here. If the answer is yes, move on.


Set up an in-depth, two hour working session to answer the question “Should we work together?” Work together with the client to create a clearly defined and compelling vision that will pull them forward through the buying journey.

The 3 Hour and 15 Minute Sales Process is effective, because by eliminating poor fit prospects at the beginning of the sales process, you’ll be saving time for the prospects most likely to buy overall.

How to Increase Call Effectiveness Without Scripts

Call Scripts have been the gold standard for cold calling, and they have their place, but people are becoming increasingly attuned to canned questions. To address this, use call planning and call flows to increase the effectiveness of your calls without using call scripts.


Consider using the AAA Call Planning technique. This involves making a quick list prior to a call that defines the answers you want to learn, the attitudes you want your prospects to feel, and the desired actions that should occur after the call.


Ideally, you should take a research based approach with prospects, using the first half of the call to learn about their business and needs, and the second half of the call to position your service and value specifically as it relates to their business challenges and needs.


Avoid being overly businesslike when leaving voicemail messages. Be warm and sincere, like you would talk to a family member or friend. Speak slowly and clearly, state your full name and phone number at the beginning and end of the message, and give them a clear and compelling reason to return your call. Voicemail is particularly effective when used in combination with email.

How to Create Your Own Sales Machine

A sales machine that generates consistent, predictable revenue involves three key parts: predictable lead generation, a specialized sales development team, and consistent sales systems (because without consistency, predictability is impossible).


  1. Patience. Creating predictable revenue can take a year or more. Keeping this in mind will help you avoid the temptation to throw in the towel before you experience measurable results.
  2. Experimentation. While there are many solid principles you can use to improve your sales results, the reality is that your business is unique. The best way to overcome this is to experiment, use A/B testing, and try different methods evenly across your prospect list and then measure the results.
  3. Prioritize repeatable projects. One-off projects can be tempting, but repeatable processes are where you’ll find predictable results.
  4. Use a CRM. Create a company-wide standard that if it’s not in the CRM, it doesn’t count. Spreadsheets just don’t cut it when it comes to the automation and reporting capabilities of even the most basic full-featured CRM.
  5. Visualize your process. If your sales process has too many steps to be sketched out on a piece of paper or whiteboard, it’s just too complicated. Simplify your process to three to seven high-level steps that answer the following questions: What is the desired outcome? What does the process have to look like to lead to this outcome? How are we already using the process today?
  6. Focus on results. Tracking activity feels good, but activity alone won’t get you where you need to go. Instead, focus on tracking the right activities that directly lead to your desired results.
  7. Track the right metrics. Avoid the temptation to over-build results and dashboards, as this makes it difficult to focus on what really matters. Work with your team to prioritize the metrics that will lead to measurable results.
  8. Pay attention to the handoffs. Problems or issues in the sales process pop up most often in the transitions between teams, so pay attention to the passing of batons within your sales process. Evaluate and redesign how these handoffs occur to minimize friction and reduce the chance of issues and balls being dropped.
  9. Prioritize small improvements. While it’s tempting to make sweeping changes, it’s baby steps taken over time that add up to the biggest results.

Remember, creating a predictable revenue sales machine takes time. Keep your expectations realistic, and give your company the room it needs to grow.


  • Number of new leads created
  • Number of qualified sales opportunities created
  • Total dollar amount of new qualified pipeline generated
  • Conversion rate percentage of leads to qualified opportunities
  • Total business or revenue, split into new business, add-on business, and renewals
  • Win rates

Tracking the right metrics will give you the data you need to adjust systems and processes over time, fine-tuning them for long-term success.

Specialization Always Wins

Specialization is key to creating predictable revenue within your company. While it might be tempting to lump lead generation, qualification, prospecting, closing, and account management into one general “sales” role, this blending of responsibilities is a huge productivity killer.

When you generalize sales responsibilities, you also run the risk of:

  • Distracted and disorganized sales reps who are spending their time on low-value tasks
  • Less opportunity to grow and develop talent
  • Unclear reporting and messy metrics
  • Lowered visibility into problems and their solutions

Specialization allows each member of the team to do their job with laser sharp focus and less task switching, improving their efficiency and effectiveness.


There are four core sales functions in any sales team:

  1. Inbound lead qualifications: Qualifying leads from inbound web and phone leads.
  2. Outbound prospecting: Dedicated to proactive business development through developing lists of prospects into highly targeted leads.
  3. Account executives: Quota-carrying reps who close deals.
  4. Account management/Customer success: Dedicated to making sure customers stay successful after the sale.

In many companies, this division of responsibilities includes a Market Response Representative who qualifies inbound leads, a Sales Development Representative (or Business Development Representative) who is responsible for prospecting and qualifying targeted leads, an Account Executive who works the active sales cycle and closes leads, and a Customer Services Representative or Account Manager who nurtures customer relationships after the sale.

As your company grows, these core functions will likely become even more specialized, but they shouldn’t ever become less specialized. If you need to have one person take on more than one sales function, ensure that they’re batching responsibilities and setting aside dedicated time to work each “role.”


It’s important to focus your highest value people on the highest value work. That’s why Account Executives should focus primarily on closing. When they do prospect, it’s best to focus on existing customers and a short, targeted list of vital accounts and channel partners.

When accepting leads from the qualifying team, the Account Executive should re-qualify the lead through a demo or discovery call before accepting it into their own pipeline.


The four core sales functions can be further divided into three types of sales professionals: Qualifiers, Closers, and Farmers.

As the name suggests, Qualifiers (like the Market Response and Sales Development Representatives listed above) are responsible for qualifying leads early in the sales process.

Closers (Account Executives) take these qualified leads through the active sales cycle, focusing their efforts on nurturing and closing deals. In general, a Sales Development Representative can support two to five quota-carrying Account Executives. In higher-value sales, a 2:1 or even 1:1 ratio of Sales Development Reps to Account Executives can still be VERY profitable.

While often overlooked, Farmers (Account Managers and Customer Service Reps) are also an essential part of the sales process. Ensuring customer success and satisfaction is crucial to creating happy customers who then generate referrals, renewals, and repeat business.

Cultivating Sales Team Talent

Great sales teams don’t happen automatically. Finding great salespeople is one thing, but keeping them engaged and productive is even more challenging. Focus on creating a great company culture that empowers your employees to learn and grow step by step.


It can be really challenging to find great sales talent, so often the best course of action is to grow them yourself. Your team should be made up of one part experienced veterans, and three parts young, smart, and adaptable new hires. The best salespeople are the ones who have grown up in your company culture and know your product, prospects, and priorities from the inside out.

Hire people who:

  • Are problem-solvers
  • Listen more than they talk
  • Know how to get things done
  • Understand the challenges and needs of customers in your industry
  • Believe in your product and company
  • Demonstrate personal and professional integrity

As you build your sales teams, be intentional about creating a defined career path so that each member of your team has space and incentive to develop personally and professionally. This will create happy employees, which will result in happy customers and more predictable revenue.


Invest in your people, especially new hires, with consistent and cohesive training and coaching. For any program to work, your management team needs to be fully committed to consistency and follow through. If your management isn’t committed, your sales team won’t be committed either.

Effective sales training should include:

  • New hire training, including a sales boot camp
  • Internal training embedded into the career path
  • Regular role-playing
  • Self-managed internal training with leadership rotating through each member of your sales team

Implementing regular, consistent training with your sales team is one of the best ways to guarantee long-term success.

Create Sales Team Alignment with Leadership & Management

One of the most common issues for sales teams is misalignment. This can be corrected by careful hiring, training, and ongoing coaching and review.


  1. Hire carefully. Hire for talent and adaptability rather than experience.
  2. Set expectations. Define roles based on desired results, not activities.
  3. Remove obstacles. Prioritize simplicity and clarity to improve productivity.
  4. Inspire your team. Understand what helps each member of your team find their own reasons to excel and achieve their full potential.
  5. Create room for growth. Work for your team by treating mistakes as learning and coaching opportunities, and by being intentional in creating room for career growth.
  6. Review and improve. Make a point to regularly review the previous five steps to look for ways you can improve and change as your company grows.

Being intentional about creating alignment within your sales teams will lead to improved productivity and predictable results.


While organic growth is based on existing relationships and organic internet marketing, proactive growth involves investing time and resources into new systems, programs, and practices. It takes time, both from trial and error and from the delays and frustrations caused by learning and doing new things.

Understand that shifting from organic to proactive growth is an essential part of creating predictable revenue, but it’s also a process – it’s going to take time, energy, and discomfort. In order to be successful, you need to stay committed, persistent, and patient as you go through the hot coals of transition, whether it takes months or even years.

Predictable Revenue Summary

Creating your own predictable revenue sales machine starts with defining specialized roles and responsibilities within your sales team. Using prospecting and sales best practices, you’ll determine your ideal customer profile and use this to create highly targeted prospect lists. Your dedicated prospecting team of Sales Development Reps will reach out to these prospects using a combination of mass email campaigns using short, friendly emails, and phone outreach using call plans, call flows, and voicemails that get results.

Once leads have been qualified by the prospecting team, they’ll be transferred to an Account Executive whose time is dedicated to nurturing and closing high-value accounts. Eventually, your Account Manager/Customer Service Team will continue to farm these accounts, cultivating happy customers who then generate return and renewal business, along with referrals, reviews, and positive PR.

To ensure your employees are engaged and equipped, you’ll prioritize frequent and consistent training, with clearly defined career paths and room for growth. As you add new members to your sales team, you’ll look for talented and adaptable individuals who are hungry to learn and tackle new challenges. As your sales team grows, you’ll always look for ways to specialize to reduce distractions and optimize your reps’ productivity and performance.


While we’ve packed as much information as possible into this overview of predictable revenue, we’ve only scratched the surface of the book as a whole. As mentioned before, we highly recommend reading Predictable Revenue for yourself – in fact, we frequently recommend Predictable Revenue to our clients.

Buy the book here: AmazonBookshopAudible

Want professional guidance from industry experts? Check out our Sales Team Starter here!

The Top 10 Sales Methodologies and How to Choose One

Many of the successful sales reps that I’ve encountered over the years fall into two categories. These categories stay true across many diverse industries, backgrounds, and educations:

  • The academic-types who do everything by the book.
  • The freestyle-types who were apparently just born to be great at sales.

Something you may find surprising is that the top tier of elite sales reps – the best of the best – are usually a member of the latter camp.

They don’t actively follow a sales methodology and many of them can’t name one of them off the top of their head. They simply fit into one. Meaning, the qualities of their personality just happen to fit into one (or some) of the methodologies below.

So, does that mean sales methodologies aren’t important?

Not so fast. Not everybody is born into being a sales savage.

Simply put, a methodology won’t take you to top 1%. If you want to be the best of the best, there’s far more to learn (and practice) than a methodology.

A methodology is simply one of the best places to start.

Sales methodologies are perfect for getting good or better at sales because they give you a framework for organizing sales calls. Having a strategy is always better than winging it.

For these reasons, sales methodologies can be one of the most valuable lessons for new or inexperienced sales reps.


Common Misconceptions about Sales Methodologies

You can master a sales methodology simply from reading about it or taking a course

Can you read about football then make a professional team? No.

Can you take a course on medicine then become a competent doctor? No.

Can you read books from Phil Knight or Jeff Bezos then build a billion dollar enterprise? No.

Too many people buy expensive weekend-long courses at hotel conference spaces that promise to turn them into bonafide selling experts… by the end of the weekend.

This doesn’t work. In fact, these people are often the least-prepared sales reps right out of the gate.

The mindset of “I’m prepared because I dedicated a weekend to learning an age-old craft” can be more dangerous than it is helpful.

Just because you’re thirsty doesn’t mean you can drink from a fire hose.

If you want to learn a methodology you should read about it for free then go make 100 sales calls.

Then, come back and read about it again. Think about what went well and what you need to improve on as well as what you forgot to put into action.

Then go make another 100 calls.

Rinse. Repeat.

Only one methodology per company or per person

Another misconception about sales methodologies is that you need to pick just one methodology. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Most custom-built sales strategies that I produce for clients involve a hybrid approach with several methodologies.


Because there’s a lot to learn from different methodologies. There is no “one method” to rule them all. You don’t need to follow a method from start to finish to extract some valuable tactics from its teachings.

Think of it this way— if you’re doing research, will you get a better understanding of the parent topic (e.g. sales) if you look at one source or many sources?


Breaking Down the Top 10 Sales Methodologies

Without further ado, here are the top 10 sales methodologies that can put any sales rep on a track to success.

For maximum effectiveness, be sure to put these methodologies into motion right away by practicing them on your next sales call.

Reading only gets you so far. Practice through repetition is key.

1. The Challenger Sales Model

The Challenger Sales Model is based on one of the largest sales studies ever conducted.

The study found that 53% of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience itself rather than the brand, price, service, or product.

This is primarily a result of the customer’s interaction with a sales rep.

The study analyzed thousands of sales reps in terms of their demonstrated behaviors and dominant skills. What they found was pretty shocking: all sales reps fall into five categories.

Even more shocking, 40% of high sales performers fell into one category: The Challenger. High performers were more than twice as likely to use a Challenger approach than any other approach.

So it works. But what is the Challenger approach?

Challenger reps are very good at understanding their customers’ business and value drivers and using that knowledge to deliver new insights and drive new ways of thinking. In essence, reps using the Challenger model are good at challenging their customers to be better and to make better decisions for their business, and they do that by using their knowledge of the industry and their customer.

Challenger reps all do three key things very well:

  1. Teach their customers new and valuable ways to compete
  2. Tailor their sales pitch to resonate with their customer’s most important issues
  3. Take Control of discussions around pricing and challenge (or bring a new perspective) to the customer’s thinking around a problem

Finally, Challenger reps use six unique traits to their advantage:

  1. Give a unique perspective to the customer
  2. Have strong 2-way communication skills
  3. Know each customer’s value drivers
  4. Can identify economic drivers of customer’s business
  5. Comfortable discussing money
  6. Comfortable and able to pressure customers

Who is Challenger Sales best for

  • Those who sell a complex product or service
  • Anyone who works with long-term customers or relationship-based selling

Who should not adapt Challenger Sales

  • Those in transactional B2C sales like retail
  • Some of those who work with international cultures


2. SPIN Selling

SPIN Selling is a methodology that revolves around questioning tactics as well as preventing objections rather than simply handling them.

The primary takeaway is that if you ask the right questions and follow the correct process, then the close is done for you.

SPIN Selling focuses on the proven theory that customers do not make buying decisions on logic alone; they need to be triggered emotionally too. It labels four different types of questions and uses them to uncover a prospect’s pain points and leverage an emotional response out of them.

SPIN is an acronym for the four types of questions:

Situational questions — Tell you about the situation the customer is in. Have no impact on convincing someone to buy from you, but are required to establish the situation.

Problem questions — Draw out pain points a prospect may have. Have a small impact on convincing someone to buy from you.

Implication questions — Ask a prospect how a problem is impacting them and get them thinking about the consequences of not solving the problem.

Need-payoff questions — Ask the prospect to consider how their situation would change if the problem was resolved. Once a prospect starts imaging a world in which their problem no longer exists, they’ll want their problem solved much quicker.

The strategy behind SPIN Selling is eerily similar to the plot of the movie Inception.

In sales, if you simply tell someone what their problem is and how you can fix it, it won’t work. The prospect knows you planted that idea in their head. They also know that your goal is to take money from their wallet.

SPIN Selling questions can be incredibly awkward to ask depending on what the prospect’s pain points are. For instance, if you’re selling life insurance then the pain point you’re drawing out and agitating is going to be a sensitive one.

SPIN Selling works best in those situations due to its ability to key into the prospects emotional side of the brain rather than the less-decisive logical side of the brain.

Who is SPIN Selling best for

  • Sales reps who sell directly to consumers, such as retail sales.
  • Sales where prices are negotiated and emotions or pain points can be leveraged for higher margins.
  • Real estate wholesalers and insurance sales.

Who should not adapt SPIN Selling

  • Anyone who sells to executives or C-suite, or other very experienced buyers.
  • People who do not have the confidence or desire to ask awkward questions.


3. SNAP Selling

SNAP Selling is a methodology that helps modern sales people connect with informed and busy modern-day buyers.

Today’s buyers have access to all the information they will ever need to research their own solutions. This makes them not trust salespeople. After all, what’s the point of being sold on something if you can find all the information yourself?

Furthermore, today’s information-age buyers are overloaded with data that’s assaulting them from every angle. They’re easily distracted and incredibly busy, and every time they open their phone or computer they find themselves getting even busier.

SNAP Selling combats buyer’s information overload by instructing sales reps to do four primary things:

keep it Simple: Make it easy for buyers and don’t over complicate your pitch. Do this with 30 second phone messages, 90-word emails, or one-page letters.

be iNvaluable: Always continue to bring the buyer new ideas. Become the primary differentiator rather than just a medium between the buyer and your product or service. Rather than pitching them like every other sales rep, demonstrate your understanding of their business.

always Align: Be relevant and not risky. Align yourself with your buyer’s critical business objectives and core beliefs or you’ll rarely make it to the decision maker.

raise Priorities: Work with prospects on their priority projects rather than pushing your own priorities. Demonstrate this by tying their priorities into your messaging.

Another important aspect of SNAP Selling is the outlining of three decisions that prospects make during the sales cycle:

  1. Allow Access — the prospect’s first decision is to become curious and agree to a conversation
  2. Initiate Change — the second decision is the shift from being complacent with the status quo to becoming committed to fixing it or improving it
  3. Select Resources — the third decision is deciding on a solution and selecting the best option.

Who is SNAP Selling best for

  • Anyone who sells to executives or C-suite, or other busy or distracted buyers.
  • Sales in competitive or highly-research industries in which you need to differentiate your company from the rest (as opposed to more niche industries with fewer solutions providers).
  • Relationship sales models.

Who should not adapt SNAP Selling

  • Sales in which cost per order is relatively low or purchases don’t require much decision making. SNAP Selling will still work here, it’s just not as necessary.
  • Transactional sales models.

4. Consultative (Solution) Selling

Solution Selling is all about problem solving, plain and simple. It’s one of the most widely taught sales methodologies over the last 40 years.

Rather than focusing on the features or benefits that your product has to offer, Solution Selling has you begin by focusing exclusively on the pain points of the prospect.

If your product ends up being a good fit to solve those pain points then you present your “solution” to how your product can solve those problems.

This very rarely happens on the same call. Typically, you’ll have discovery calls in which you discover all of the prospect problems or pain points. This is followed up with a presentation call where you present your solution.

Solution Selling works best with customizable products or services and complex customer problems.

In a complex buying situation, one of the worst things you can do is to start opening your mouth and pitching solutions before understanding the complexity of the problem. As soon as you misfire on one guess or assumption, the prospect begins to lose faith in your ability to solve their problem.

By throwing your pitch on the back burner and harvesting your prospect for answers in a discovery call, you’re able to find out the answers to the questions before it’s time to take the test.

The test is the presentation call. This is where you flex your muscles by showing how well you understood the prospect’s pain points during the discovery call. You rehash and confirm all of the customer’s pain points then map out exactly how your solution (your product) can solve or address those problems.

Who is Solution Selling best for

  • Customizable products or services such as consulting.
  • Selling to customers who have complex problems that need to be thoroughly understood and addressed.
  • Anyone who is starting out and needs their first sales methodology, since many new-age methodologies are based on Solution Selling which makes it a gateway to other methodologies

Who should not adapt Solution Selling

  • Sales where buyers are advanced and do much of their research on their own.
  • Reps who are not experienced enough in their industry to truly guide the sales process and coach their customers on how to buy.


5. Straight Line Persuasion

I bet you didn’t expect to see a sales methodology on this list created by someone who went to prison for fraud, did you?

His name is Jordan Belfort, and you’re probably familiar with him from The Wolf of Wall Street or the fictionalized Boiler Room.

First, let me state that Straight Line Persuasion has nothing to do with deception. It’s simply a way for volume-dependent sales reps to control what they value the most— time.

What’s a volume-dependent sales rep?

Someone whose bottom line is dependent on them making a HIGH volume of calls per day.

As a former freight broker, this was my life for nearly ten years. On any given call, the more we talked about anything unrelated to buying or selling freight, the less time I would have to make more calls.

The less calls I made, the less money I could make.

Dials, Dials, Dials… You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince

Straight Line Persuasion is all about maintaining control of each interaction by leading the prospect in a “straight line” right towards the sale.

The three tenets to Straight Line Persuasion are:

  1. Develop rapport quickly
  2. Gather intelligence (qualify) quickly
  3. Control the interaction

If at any point in the call the buyer starts meandering away from talking about the sale, you control the interaction by gently nudging them back towards the straight line and back towards the sale.

If you’re a volume-dependent sales rep then the one variable that can put more money into your account is the number of calls you can make in a day. Straight Line Persuasion helps you maximize that.

Who is Straight Line Persuasion best for

  • Freight brokers and other carrier-focused logistics reps.
  • Anyone volume-dependent sales reps or individuals who need to qualify quickly and make as many calls per day as possible.

Who should not adapt Straight Line Persuasion

  • Pretty much anyone not outlined above who values quality of phone calls over quantity of phone calls (or touches).


6. The Sandler System

Sick of feeling like you’re ice skating uphill trying to convince every prospect to work with you? The Sandler System is for you.

The Sandler methodology flips the script on the classic sales model by requiring that both parties are equally interested in pursuing the deal after the first call. In this methodology, qualifying is king.

The first call is typically very low-key and conversational. The goal is to build rapport by showing a genuine interest in helping the prospect solve their problems.

Don’t bother pitching them on your solutions or trying to sell them on anything. By keeping the call conversational, it’s easier to uncover more honest answers to qualifying questions like budget and time.

Sandler helps you qualify prospects much earlier in the sales process. This, of course, saves you time by eliminating deals that have a low chance of success.

The secondary benefit here is that, if done properly, prospects will actually pursue you. This is opposite of how sales calls normally go. When salespeople come out of the gate aggressively selling, prospects defenses go up.

Most kids learn in grade school that the harder you try to pursue your crush, the harder it is to win them over. It’s a similar concept here.

That same psychology works with the Sandler System. By placing as much emphasis on trying to qualify the prospect as they place on trying to qualify you, prospects end up being driven to work with you.

Who is the Sandler System best for

  • Sales reps who have issues with (or want to avoid) prospects who act interested and motivated only to avoid commitment and disappear.
  • Freelancers using job sites like Upwork or Fiverr who want to waste less time talking with clients who aren’t serious.

Who should not adapt the Sandler System

  • Sales reps or organizations that don’t have enough prior experience to develop rigid, high-quality qualification standards.
  • Newer organizations who don’t have a lot of inbound leads or opportunities.


7. Inbound Sales

The Inbound Sales methodology is a new-age way of selling that leverages the fact that marketing and sales are more connected now than ever.

Most buyers will research their buying decisions on their own before they ever consider speaking to a sales rep.

On the flip side, sales reps now have transparency into what marketing content prospects are viewing.

With all that being said, the inbound sales methodology leverages two key important actions:

  1. Sales reps should meet customers where they are, whether that’s on Twitter, Facebook, or even your company’s pricing or product pages (hint: live chat).
  2. Sales reps should acknowledge where customers are in their buying process and leverage that knowledge to make highly personalized communications.

Inbound Sales is especially new-age in the sense that many people have no idea that companies are even capable of doing what they’re doing.

By linking marketing and sales with powerful sales automation software like HubSpot, sales reps can now see when leads are researching their product, viewing them on social media, or checking out their website. This information helps sales reps determine what interaction would be best to help push the lead closer to a buying decision.

While this isn’t exclusive to Inbound Sales, prospects typically have three stages in their Buyer’s Journey:

Awareness stage — The prospect becomes aware of their problem and starts doing research to more clearly understand their problem.

Consideration stage — The prospect has clearly defined their problem (or opportunity) and is now committed to researching and understanding available solutions for their problem.

Decision stage — The prospect has decided on a strategy to solve their problem and will soon choose from a list of options.

With that being understood, sales reps can use the following sales process:

Identify — Identify active **buyers based on who is looking at your marketing content

Connect — Connect with active buyers with personalized messages

Explore — Sales reps focus on rapport building above all while exploring the prospect’s pain points and goals, and introducing products that may be a good fit

Advise — Sales reps use everything they’ve learned about the prospect thus far to present a solution for them.

Lastly, Inbound Sales is based on a flywheel model rather than a funnel. The key difference here is that the flywheel is always in motion and always generating leads for sales as long as the company as a whole does its part to attract, engage, and delight everyone that enters the flywheel.

Who is Inbound Sales best for

  • Any company that has the necessary manpower and budget should adapt all or some of this methodology.
  • Companies who rely on inbound as opposed to outbound lead generation.

Who should not adapt Inbound Sales

  • Companies who exclusively rely on outbound lead generation like cold calling.
  • Freelancers or small companies without much inbound lead generation may not find it worth the budget necessary.


8. Gap Selling

Gap Selling is a relatively simple concept compared to many of the other methodologies on this list.

In Gap Selling, the sales rep will ask questions to determine what the prospect’s current state is (i.e. their problems or challenges) as well as what their ideal future state is (i.e. their goal).

The difference between those two states is known as the gap. The wider the gap, the more room there is for improvement and the more motivated a prospect can be to buy.

Something I love about Gap Selling is that it really nails human psychology on the head.

First and foremost, people care about themselves and not you (the sales rep). That statement can then be extended further— prospects do not care about your products, your company, or your services.

They care about what it can do for them. And what it can do for them is take them from their current state of problems to their future state of meeting their goals.

In Gap Selling, sales reps have to ask industry-specific and prospect-specific questions to identify what problems the prospect is having, how those problems are impacting them, what type of emotional impact those problems are causing, what are the root cause of those problems, and what is the future state that the prospect hopes to get to.

Notice a pattern there?

It’s ALL about the prospect.

Gap Selling identifies itself as problem-centric rather than product-centric.

This borrows from many other methodologies on this list (namely Solution Selling) Gap Selling just takes it lightyears further by tipping the scales even more in favor of never speaking about your product unless asked.

Who is Gap Selling best for

  • Companies who have little competitive advantage.
  • Sales reps who have difficulty pitching their product or service in conventional manners.

Who should not adapt Gap Selling

  • Sales reps who lack discipline in preparation, as you must prepare the proper questions before each call.
  • Companies who are already successful in other methodologies or who cannot commit to training sales reps through repetition until they master this one.


9. Cold Calling 2.0

Cold Calling 2.0 is more of a prospecting technique than a complete sales methodology. It was created by then-Director of Corporate Sales at Salesforce, Aaron Ross, who used it to completely transform Salesforce’s sales process and build a $100 million sales machine.

Guess what? Cold Calling 2.0 involves zero actual cold calling.

In fact, that’s the point. For most organizations nowadays, blindly cold calling prospects and measuring your sales teams in terms of number of calls made is not an effective strategy.

Instead, this technique hinges on separating sales teams into three groups. This helps create specialized reps who, in turn, make the entire sales team and sales process more productive. Those three groups are:

Qualifiers: Also referred to as appointment setters, these reps are responsible for sales development from outbound emails or from inbound marketing, and passing those qualified leads onto….

Closers: These are your classic account executives who take leads from Qualifiers and close deals.

Farmers: Customer success or account management reps

Now onto the actual technique of Cold Calling 2.0.

The dedicated prospecting team (Qualifiers) produce qualified leads for Closers by sending short but sweet emails.

These emails are sent to the contacts who are typically a level or two above the decision maker you need to be speaking to.

These people who are higher in the food chain are actually easier and more effective people to reach out to if you do it correctly.

First of all, how do you find the right person?

Well, it takes time! And sometimes it takes persistence. However, Cold Calling 2.0 implores sales reps to do their due diligence and reach high-quality contacts who can then sponsor them down to the proper decision maker.

To put this into perspective, have you ever been tasked with something from a Director or VP of Sales? You’re probably a lot more likely to do it (and do it well) than if the order came horizontally or from below you, right?

Now, how do you reach out to these people correctly? Here are some rules to follow:

  • Send short emails that include ONE simple question, can be read on a smartphone, and can be responded to in approximately two seconds (e.g. yes or no).
  • Stop expecting instant results. Realize that it can take 2-4 weeks to develop quality new leads.
  • Stop trying to hit 100 accounts once and instead try to hit 10 accounts 10 times. Going tall is more effective than going wide.

Another bonus with Cold Calling 2.0 is that it allows organizations to build much more predictable revenue. In fact, the originator Aaron Ross went on to found a company and write a book called “Predictable Revenue”.

Who is Cold Calling 2.0 best for

  • Enterprise companies or other organizations with large sales teams
  • Companies without an abundance of inbound leads, or who otherwise rely on outbound sales methods to generate a good portion of their sales (or want to start).

Who should not adapt Cold Calling 2.0

  • Individual sales reps or sales teams who don’t have buy-in from their organization as a whole.
  • Organizations who have a great flow of inbound leads or referrals.


10. Conceptual Selling

This methodology is similar to Solution Selling but ditches the product or service pitch in favor of pitching the solution.

To explain, B2B buyers don’t really want your product. They don’t desire it like you may desire a new flat screen TV or a shiny new car.

For businesses, your product is simply a means to solve their problem. So, in theory, they don’t buy the product at all, they buy the concept of a solution that is enabled by your product.

On the surface, this methodology seems pretty obvious, but selling the concept of a solution rather than a product is a little bit more labor-intensive than you might think.

It doesn’t happen naturally. Everything needs to be framed in terms of how the customer would make the buying decision, how the customer would implement the solution, and so on.

The framework for Conceptual Selling revolves around asking the following types of questions:

  • Confirmation questions that reaffirm information (e.g. So you’re looking for a better freight matching software to help reps save time matching available freight to available trucks, correct?”)
  • New Information questions help to clarify exactly what the prospect’s concept of the product is while exploring how they define the desired result (e.g. Can you tell me exactly which problem you’d be solving with a new freight matching software, and how solving that problem might affect your company?”)
  • Attitude questions aim to understand the prospect on a personal level and discover their connection with the project (e.g. Have you ever addressed this problem before? Why or why not?)
  • Commitment questions measure a prospects investment in the project (e.g. How important is it for you to solve this problem?)
  • Basic Issue questions raise potential problems and “deal killers” that can get in the way of the deal going through (e.g. Are you comfortable with the implementation timeline that would be required if you decided to move forward with this purchase?)

Conceptual Selling is all about win-win situations and places an astronomical emphasis on listening.

The three stages of Conceptual Selling are getting information, giving information, and getting commitment.

The first stage is far and away the most important. If you don’t ask the right questions, listen to the prospect’s responses, and understand their desires, the rest of the process will be doomed from the start.

Who is Conceptual Selling best for

  • Complex selling situations.
  • Companies who sell highly-customizable products or services to customers who need unique solutions.

Who should not adapt Conceptual Selling

  • Quicker or less detail-oriented sales situations.


Choosing a sales methodology

As I said in the beginning of this post, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you try to choose one sales methodology and ignore the rest.

There’s something worth learning in each and every one of the sales methodologies listed above. It’s typically best to choose one primary sales methodology that fits for your industry or selling situations and build a framework around that while learning from the rest of them.

If you have a small (or agile) team then you can even change methodologies depending on the market.

For instance, at IRC Sales Solutions, we always use methods from Cold Calling 2.0 when it comes to prospecting. We preach techniques from the Challenger Model and Inbound Selling, but depending on how busy we are at the moment and where our leads came from, we’ll use the Sandler Method or Solution Selling as the primary framework for sales calls.

Too many people buy expensive weekend-long courses at hotel conference spaces that promise to turn them into bonafide selling experts… by the end of the weekend. This doesn’t work. In fact, these people are often the least-prepared sales reps right out of the gate. The mindset of “I’m prepared because I dedicated a weekend to learning an age-old craft” can be more dangerous than it is helpful.

It’s frequently thought that a sales methodology is the key to unlocking a new legendary conversion rate or astronomical success.

Too many people buy expensive weekend-long courses at hotel conference spaces that promise to turn them into bonafide selling experts… by the end of the weekend. This doesn’t work. In fact, these people are often the least-prepared sales reps right out of the gate. The mindset of “I’m prepared because I dedicated a weekend to learning an age-old craft” can be more dangerous than it is helpful.

Sandler helps you qualify prospects much earlier in the sales process. This of course saves you time by eliminating deals that have a low chance of success.

If you need additional help choosing a sales methodology or more information, check out our Sales Team Starter!