Thumbing through a training catalog, I noticed a course offered to help salespeople identify their selling style. To me, that’s the tail wagging the dog. A salesperson should be versatile enough to adopt whatever selling style their customer needs. Salespeople who rigidly cling to a selling style will only be successful with a limited number of customers. These would be the few customers whose buying styles match that salesperson’s particular selling style. Salespeople will be well served to continually develop their versatility. By increasing versatility, salespeople enjoy success with an ever-increasing variety of buying styles.
The first and most important thing salespeople can do to increase a versatility, is to be good observers. Salespeople have no chance adapting their selling style to a customer’s buying style, if they don’t notice what that buying style is. Traditional sales training downplays this point. Its focus is on preparing presentations and selling points. Their emphasis is more about developing the type of salesperson you are, rather than observing the type of customer you’re talking to. To me this is like a driver who thinks car-crash survival training will keep him safer than a clean windshield he can clearly see out of. Just because salespeople learn to recite all their selling points, doesn’t mean customers will be receptive to them.
This principle, by the way, doesn’t work in the reverse. Good observation can increase the impact of selling points, but good selling points won’t make a salesperson more observant. In fact, clinging to familiar selling points can be distracting. It invites the tendency for salespeople to dismiss customer statements not aligned with those pre-rehearsed selling points.
The most compelling selling points are the ones stated in response to customers. The essential requisite for this is a good observation. Good observation is a salesperson’s “skeleton key”. It unlocks doors to the widest variety of customer buying-styles, adding more versatility to a salesperson’s repertoire and success.