Sales management – important for a business’ success in any
Marketing and sales management are constantly evolving to keep pace with the challenges of the rapidly changing market conditions of our times.
Availability of Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) tools have added new dimensions to how Sales are perceived by the Consumer and Sales professional. B2B (Business-to-Business), B2C (Business-to-Consumer), E-Commerce have transcended from being just Sales terms to facets that have brought about a paradigm shift to how Sales are planned and executed.
It would be prudent to look at the various aspects of the sales strategy before the different sales approaches.
What is a sales strategy?
Sales strategy is a concrete plan of action by a Company or Individual to sell products and services to inform buyers to allow them to differentiate the product or service from competitors.
A Sales strategy provides clear Objectives and Guidelines to the Sales Organization or Sales Team to achieve them. They include:
- Key performance indicators
- Buyer profile
- Sales processes
- Analysis of the Competition
- Product positioning
- Selling methodologies or approaches
- Organisation and structure of Sales team
Communication is an extremely important defining part of the strategy, as it ensures the Sales Team are on the same page. Skilful communication with prospective customers demonstrates Value and distinguishing features from the competition.
Also read: Importance of sales process
What is a sales approach?
Sales Approach is the framework of steps developed and followed by a salesperson, sales team or Company to make the selling process effective and result oriented.
The key steps in this process generally include:
- Handling and resolving objections
- Closing the Sales
- Post-sales follow up
Just like how no two salespersons are alike, likewise, the sales approach adopted by a Sales professional is dynamic and may have evolved over the years and maybe something that works best for that individual.
Therefore, there is nothing like a best sales approach. Typically, client needs, personality, salient features of the product or services, and background and persona of the salesperson would often determine the key sales approach that is best for that situation.
In this regard, the aspect of the sales comparison approach comes into play, especially since the key sales approaches of each salesperson and each product would differ accordingly.
However, the sales approach can be broadly categorised as follows:
1) Solutions selling approach:
Buyers often have difficulty choosing the right product or service for meeting a need. It could be deciding on a Washing machine that meets specific requirements for a home. Therefore, solution selling is applicable when a Buyer has a well-defined problem or specific need that a particular product or service can solve or meet.
It involves asking the right questions with a patient hearing to understand the underlying problem or need. This would provide clarity on the product or service that best provides the solution.
2) Buddy approach:
The buddy approach is best aligned with Salespeople who are naturally warm and friendly. They use this friendly approach to connect with potential customers, who respond warmly to a friendly approach ending in a suitable purchase decision.
It is often used in the personalised retail sector, like jewellery and for selling wedding attires for the groom and bride, among others.
As the approach relies on the idea that customers like to do business with Salespeople or companies they like, it needs relationship development transcending the actual ‘Sale stage’.
3) Guru approach:
Opposite to the buddy approach, it relies on using the facts of the product- its performance, distinguishing features, to convince the customer to purchase, instead of emotional factors or by trying to solve customer’s problems. The approach works for: Customers who don’t like emotion being part of selling and are resistant; salespeople who like to research and are adept at answering queries – technical or otherwise. It can be seen to be widely used in retail situations that require technical information and preparation, such as car sales and technology products.
4) Consultative approach:
This approach combines the buddy and Guru approach and the solution approach to sell products.
Typically, the salesperson builds a relationship with the customer using a friend or buddy approach and provides required technical information based on knowledge, sound understanding & experience, topping up with providing a solution to a pressing need or problem after due analysis of the same. If done properly, this approach is considered to be the most valuable one
5) Customer personality approach:
The customer personality approach encompasses different sales approach strategies, depending on the buyer’s personality. The buyer’s personality is first determined, and then the sales approach is accordingly customised and aligned. A friendly buyer may display hesitancy in decision-making, needing more convincing and reassuring to close the sale deal. Additionally, a customer wary of salespeople and their sales talk will require more proof of credibility and more time for developing trust in the product and salesperson.
Traditional sales vs modern approach
Sales approaches are rapidly changing to cope with the challenges of times – wherein ICT (Information, Communication & Technology) have undergone paradigm changes. Social networking tools are often used to connect informally with people, building trust and business relationships. This scenario calls for adapting the traditional but key sales approach with modern techniques to achieve the desired sales or results.
Sales teams adept at either of traditional approach or the modern sales approach are often conflicted with how to use both judiciously when the situation calls for a blended approach. With modern buyers adopting a different or changed decision-making process, the inability to respond to this changed buying process will adversely hurt the Sales results.
When creating a sales opportunity, the following changed scenario may play out involving a modern buyer:
- May engage less with Sellers, and often this may be at a later stage of the sales cycle;
- May adopt a longer timeline involving more decision-makers.
- May seek to be adequately informed/educated about the solutions the product provides to the prevailing business challenge or certain aspects of a potential solution that the product will provide or can provide in the near future.
Such changed scenarios demand a change in mindset for Leaders and Sales teams. Modern sales techniques involving Social selling, Digital selling have to be applied to generate Leads, engage, connect and follow up with potential customers.
Also read: Best sales techniques
Sales strategies in the new millennium demand deploying sales approaches that leverage and combine traditional methods with modern techniques of the day, be it social networking, digital selling, etc., for achieving desired sales results.
Therefore, it is apparent that Sales leaders and personnel have to wholeheartedly embrace and adapt to this changed reality to find greater sales success and fulfilment.
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