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Is the Sandler Sales Methodology Right for Your Team?

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management, Sales Enablement Strategy, Uncategorized

In a world where sales techniques are constantly evolving due to new tech and customer behavior, the Sandler Sales Methodology endures.

In this article, we’ll explore Sandler’s core principles, compare it with other sales methods, and offer five questions to assess its fit for your team.

What is the Sandler Sales Method?

The Sandler Sales Training Method, or Sandler Selling System, offers a consultative way to build strong customer connections and demonstrate tangible value. Developed by David Sandler in 1967, this sales model has withstood the test of time and continues to be a go-to training program for many sales reps and organizations.

Sandler vs. Traditional Sales

Traditional sales involves cold-calling a prospect and diving straight into a product-centric sales pitch. Conversely, the Sandler Method prioritizes a two-way dialogue to understand the customer’s needs and pain points as part of the qualification process before proposing a solution. You’re not just selling; you’re solving problems.

Why Does Sandler Sales Methodology Matter?

The Sandler Sales Process eliminates pushy sales tactics, replacing them with skills focused on building rapport and genuine customer partnerships. The method helps you use time wisely by focusing on the most promising prospects during the lead qualification stage, ensures smooth and honest communication through a unified sales language, and offers predictable outcomes by helping you anticipate client needs and potential challenges.

Sandler Selling doesn’t stop at reaching quotas and making the sale; it emphasizes the importance of nurturing ongoing customer relationships by building trust for repeat business. Considering that 88% of salespeople report an improvement in their sales strategy with Sandler, it’s clear that this method offers more than just a way to close deals; it’s an approach for long-term sales success.

The 7 Stages of Sandler Selling System

David Sandler used a submarine analogy to illustrate the selling process. Each stage in this sales cycle, or “compartment” in the Sandler Submarine, helps to prevent costly backtracking that can torpedo the sale.

When incorporating this system into your sales strategy, it’s crucial that your sales reps remain  subtle, stick to a consistent plan, and make decisions based on logic, not emotion. Each consultative selling stage is captured in the seven compartments of the Sandler Submarine.

Sandler submarine

Stage1: Establish Bonding and Rapport

Sales reps must build a relationship with their prospects during sales calls. This isn’t about small talk but making genuine connections while qualifying. Ask about their day, show interest in their business, and be the trusted advisor that they want to talk to.

Stage 2: Setting an Up-Front Contract 

When setting the up-front contract, you outline what you will discuss, the time frame, and what each party can expect. These are the ground rules. This conversation clears the air and sets clear expectations for an effective dialogue.

Stage 3: Identify the Prospects’s Pain

The third step is where the Sandler pain funnel comes in. This involves asking a series of open-ended questions that eventually become more specific to diagnose the problems or customer pain points your prospect is facing. Be sure to maintain active listening and ask the right questions–the better you understand their challenges, the better you can address them.

 You can use the following questions as a starting point:

  • Can you tell me more about that?
  • Can you provide more details?
  • Can you provide an example?
  • How long has this issue been ongoing?
  • What steps have you taken to address this matter?

Stage 4: Learn the Prospect’s Budget

Understand what the prospect is willing to invest. Discussing the budget during the early stage of the sales process will help set expectations and avoid wasted time for both parties.

Stage 5: Identify Decision Makers

Who holds the key to the decision-making process? Ensure you’re talking to the right people who can accept your proposal. Also, discuss when, what, why, and how their decision-making process and procurement works.

Stage 6: Fulfill the Customer’s Needs

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary info, it’s time to offer a tailored solution that hits all the prospect’s pain points and fits within their budget and buying process.

Stage 7: Ongoing Relationship

Sales reps should keep the lines of communication open post-sell for feedback, future opportunities, and referrals. Maintaining post-sale follow-up ensures mutual trust for repeat business and minimizes buyer’s remorse.

How to Implement the Sandler Sales Method?

Now that you understand the low-pressure Sandler Sales Method, you can begin. Start by training your team on the Sandler principles. Role-play various scenarios, track performance metrics, and continuously fine-tune your approach to eventually improve sales productivity.

Don’t worry about throwing away your current sales strategy. You can often integrate Sandler steps into your existing process and make it an integral part of your sales playbook templates to improve results and achieve customer success. 

For those interested in deeper training, virtual courses are available through the Sandler Sales Institute, which trains over 30,000 people annually. Some CRMs and sales training platforms like Highspot have also partnered with Sandler, allowing you to manage your library of tools and resources to train sales reps.

What Makes the Sandler Sales System Different from Other Sales Methods?

The Sandler difference boils down to one word: Empathy. It prioritizes understanding the client’s needs in a world where 66% of customers expect just that. It’s a consultative, relationship-focused sales approach, steering clear of pushy, transactional tactics.

But how does it differ from other popular sales methods like Challenger Selling and Value-based Selling?

Challenger Selling

The Challenger Selling method focuses on the salesperson acting as a ‘challenger,’ pushing the customer out of their comfort zone to recognize a need or problem they may not have yet identified.

While Sandler and Challenger both take a consultative approach, the key difference is in the delivery. The Sandler system approach is softer and relationship-focused, while Challenger is more disruptive, aiming to reshape the client’s thinking.

Value-Based Selling

Value-based Selling is about understanding and promoting the value that a product or service will bring to the stakeholders specific situation. It shares Sandler’s consultative nature but differs in focus.

While Sandler aims to delve deeply into understanding the client’s pain points, Value-Based Selling focuses more on articulating the specific benefits and ROI the product can bring to the customer.

Is Sandler Sales Method a Good Fit for Your Organization?

As companies scale, sales methodologies offer a structured framework to guide sales teams throughout the sales cycle. The Sandler method is a flexible method that fits into sales teams of any size and most industries, but it excels in B2B sales.  

Sandler selling is best when sales professionals know their industry well and can adopt a consultative approach. However, if your business operates in a fast-paced retail sector or your sales process is straightforward, you might not need the depth Sandler offers.

To determine if the Sandler method is the right fit, businesses should assess their salespeople’s industry knowledge, the value of their products or services, their openness to new methods, and their focus on relationship-building and ongoing sales training. Choosing a sales methodology should be a strategic decision aligned with your business type, sales cycle, and team capabilities.

Are you wondering if the Sandler Selling System is the right fit for your team? Here are five key questions to help you decide:

  1. Do your salespeople know the industry well?
  2. Is your product or service high-value?
  3. Are you willing to integrate new methods into your existing sales process?
  4. Does your team value relationship-building?
  5. Are you open to training and reinforcement?

Hop Aboard the Sandler Submarine with Highspot

Finding your way through the changing sales landscape and customer behavior is challenging. The Sandler Selling Methodology has cut through the noise since 1967. Rooted in empathy and problem-solving, the Sandler sales process helps you close the deal and ensures a lasting relationship for future business.

In collaboration with the Sandler Selling System, Highspot provides state-of-the-art sales playbook and training software designed to elevate your sales team’s performance. Before you embark on your Sandler methodology journey, consider the five key questions we’ve outlined to determine if this is the proper methodology for your organization.

Ready to transform your sales team? Schedule a demo with Highspot Today!