Sales is sales, if you can sell one thing you can sell anything. How many times have you heard this? I know over my career I’ve heard it time and time again. However, in the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friends!”
Sales is not sales. Think about it: It’s true there are certain competencies that cut across all sales positions. Competencies like Drive to Win and Ability to Read People are important regardless of the type of sales position. But sales styles can vary wildly. Is the style of the sales person at your local big box electronic store the same as the sales style of your financial broker? I would hope not, and if it is, might I suggest you look for a new financial broker.
Why are they different? In this blog, I will discuss Product vs. Solution sales styles.
PRODUCT: The big box rep is focused on a product, so features and benefits are very important. Take a HDTV for example: Do you want LCD or LED, two HDMI inputs or four, etc. It’s also a transactional sale. The job of the big box rep is to educate you and get you to make a purchase…quickly. Chances are, there are three or four more customers on the floor who also want to look at HDTVs, and the one that gets to them first gets the chance to sell them one.
Product Sales Style Characteristics:
• Focus on the product’s features and benefits
• Spend less time understanding and developing the needs of the customer
• Rely on technical knowledge
• Use “people skills” to build trust and customer acceptance
SOLUTION: The financial broker on the other hand may be worried about their overall sales numbers but they want to build a long term relationship with their clients. So the sale is less transitional and more focused on your overall portfolio. In addition they are trying to put together a solution that will help you achieve your goals, whether it’s retirement or funding your child’s college education.
Solution Sales Style Characteristics:
• Consultative approach
• Identify needs of the customer
• Selling larger solutions to meet customer needs
• Professionals in many non-sales related fields such as attorneys and consultants tend to be more solution based
It’s important to realize that no one is purely one style versus another. So, just because someone is more of a product-oriented salesperson doesn’t mean they can’t sell solutions. It just means that their style is naturally suited to work with products, and it will be easier for them to excel in that type of selling environment.
To learn more about using sales assessment to accurately
identify your sales performers, watch the HR.com webinar
"Best Practices in Selecting Top Sales Talent: A Case Study with Office Depot."