The Art of Selling
| August 10,2013 12:28 pm IST
Many people I have encountered till date still have a negative attitude about sales people. Why? Well, apparently some still tend to view a sales professional as a door-to-door salesman.
They view a sales person as trying to sell something to them that they don’t need. These people may remember a profile of long ago - the vacuum cleaner salesman!
What people don’t understand is that to be a professional sales person, many skills, qualities, abilities, and immense knowledge is used. Today, sales professionals have the ability to earn as great or greater income than those they sell to. Salespeople contribute to society by acting as stimuli in the economic process and by as¬sisting in the diffusion of innovation. They contribute to their employers by producing revenue, performing research and feedback activities, and comprising a pool of future managers. They contribute to customers by providing timely knowledge to assist in solv¬ing problems.
A great sales professional should receive as much respect as a doctor, lawyer, an IT wizard or for that matter any other professional. After all, isn’t everyone a sales person? What do we all do when we go to the Interview – of course we sell ourselves as the ideal candidate for the job – don’t we? Do you sell your kids on doing their homework, cleaning their rooms? Does your stockbroker sell you on buying investments? Does your doctor sell you on having that surgery he recommends? Bottom line “Everybody Sells”.
In this article we shall explore how selling has changed over time and most importantly how to master the “Art of selling”. The basic skills of selling are actually human relation skills, these are learned and practiced from birth. Before we proceed to define these skills lets examine what exactly is personal selling? Personal Selling refers to the personal communication of information to unselfishly persuade a prospective customer to buy something—a good, a service, an idea or something else—which satisfies that individual’s needs.
THE GOLDEN RULE OF PERSONAL SELLING refers to the sales philosophy of unselfishly treating others as you would like to be treated.
Before we proceed to evaluate the skill set required to succeed in career of sales lets see how sales focus has changed over the recent few years.
Transaction Focused Vs Relationship-Focused approach to selling*
Relationship Focused Selling
*From the text of Professional Selling – A trust based approach – by Thomas. N. Inagram
Today’s sales professional are moving away from a transaction-based approach to a relationship-based approach. Lets see what is relationship selling and its use. Relationship selling: the process of professionally providing information for helping customers make intelligent actions to achieve their short- and long-term objectives.
Four main elements (ABC’s) in the customer relationship process used by salespeople to build relationships are:
(1). Analyze customer needs.
(2). Present product Benefits.
(3). Gain Commitment for the purchase.
(4). Provide excellent Service in order to maintain and grow the relationship.
Five alternative approaches to selling includes stimulus response, mental states, need satisfaction, problem solving, and the consultative approach. Stimulus response selling often uses the same sales presentation for all customers. The mental states approach prescribes that the salesperson lead the buyer through stages in the buying process. Need satisfaction selling focuses on relating benefits of the seller’s products or services to the buyer’s particular situation. Problem-solving selling extends need satisfaction by concentrating on various alternatives available to the buyer. Consultative selling focuses on helping customers achieve strategic goals, not just meeting needs or solving problems. In consultative selling, salespersons fulfill three primary roles: strategic orchestrator, business consultant, and long-term ally to the customer.
Many transaction focused sales people use the Stimulus Response approach, wherein the sales persons create certain situations during the sales presentation, which acts on the buyers stimuli, and the buyer tend to respond in the manner in which the salesperson expects him to do so. For example the yes- yes approach, where the seller would ask many questions to the buyer where he only tends to respond by saying yes- yes, thereby fine-tuning him for a positive sales close. This approach is more of a seller centric approach, which might hinder in the relationship building process.
Stimulus Response Selling