Selling Styles

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Selling Styles
by Frank Lee and Pamela Lee

So much is written about selling styles today. Does it all really matter? It does when you consider that the selling style of a sales person can seriously affect the number of sales that sales person can make.

There are two important components that go into the formation of the selling style of sales people — their perceptions of the selling process and the reasons why they think customers buy from them. These will determine their predominant selling style and place them into one of four distinct categories. Here are two questions that can be asked of sales people.

How Do Sales People Perceive the Selling Process?

Salespeople perceive the selling process on different levels.

Some think in terms of Product only. This limits their ability to sell because their presentations are based around product and tend to be boring and not very effective.

Some think in terms of Features, Advantages and Benefits (FAB). This raises their ability to sell because they have progressed beyond the Product stage. Their presentations are likely to be livelier. However, they may tend to revert to the Product stage because all the Features, Advantages and Benefits are, after all, tied to the product.

Some salespeople still believe the customer buys because of them only. This is the “Me Syndrome”. They usually have reasonable successes because they tend to develop good relationships with customers. However, they are still limited in their ability to sell because they believe the only products they are selling are themselves. They tend to become self-centered and easily distracted when a customer does not show enough interest in them and their abilities.

Sales Academy believes a higher form of selling is what we call “Beyond FAB”. This goes beyond the old-style Features, Advantages and Benefits method. It focuses on the customer and tries to find out why the customer should buy from the salesperson. It focuses on solutions to real problems. Very few salespeople reach this level without proper training. It assumes nothing as far as the customer is concerned and uses strategic questions to determine how best to sell to the customer.

Why Do They Think Customers Buy From Them?

This is an interesting question. Salespeople tend to reveal their thinking processes and selling styles when answering.

  • Some believe the customer buys because the product they sell is outstanding or at least as good as the competition. (Product)
  • Some believe the customer buys because of the value of the product. This assumes the “logical” mind of the customer. (FAB)
  • Many believe the customer buys because of the salesperson – the customer believes in, trusts or otherwise loves the salesperson. (Me)
  • Some believe the customer buys because they have fulfilled an important emotional need backed by clear logic and they continue to do this. (Beyond FAB)
  • Most sales people display traces of all the styles depending on situational factors. However, one style is usually predominant.

Sales managers can begin to determine the selling styles of their sales people by asking them the two questions and then listening objectively to their answers. They can also ‘listen’ to their behaviors out in the field.

They should not be disappointed if they find their sales people fall into categories they would not prefer. This simply highlights areas where they can help them improve.