Some decades ago, sales methodology was all about the ‘the pitch’ – i.e. how the salesperson could get their product across as persuasively as possible. These days, however, reputable training companies like Frosch Learning recognise the need for more varied approaches, tailoring the methodology to fit different sales environments. Below are three of today’s most popular approaches to selling.

Consultative selling

With this selling technique, the salesperson conveys expertise as they act as a consultant for the prospect. In doing so, they put several questions to the prospect about their needs. Then, they will recommend the most suitable product – hopefully, the salesperson’s own – for meeting those needs.

The term ‘consultative selling’ originated in Mack Hanan’s 1970s book Consultative Selling, as reported by The Balance. This approach has many advantages; it can, for example, bring up abundant information about what the prospect wants and needs. The salesperson can then match those needs with the ideal benefits of the product that he is offering.

The biggest merit of consultative selling is the ability to quickly build rapport as the seller provides helpful information to the prospect. Therefore, the seller can show their expertise and so encourage the prospect to turn to them when they have concerns or questions in the seller’s area of speciality.

However, before getting in contact with a prospect, the seller needs to acquire expertise and, through techniques like writing regular blog posts or getting relevant certification, credentials as an expert. They should also make sure that their product will genuinely suit the prospect.

Conceptual Selling

This methodology is founded upon the notion that salespeople are not selling a product or a service, but rather the prospect’s concept of what that product or service is. Conceptual selling, fully explained by Robert B. Miller and Stephen E. Heiman in their 1989 book of the same name, also places a heavy emphasis on listening to the prospect and breaks down the sales process into three stages: getting information, giving information and getting commitment. In the first stage, it is the task of the seller to gain an understanding of how the prospect conceptualises the product in question. From there, the seller can move to the second stage where they are now in a position to ask tailor-made questions and give information on a much more personalised level. Indeed, this latter element of the methodology is its keys strength as it allows for a more results-based focus going into the final stage and separates you and your company from the competition.

Challenger Selling

In their 2011 book, The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson identify five different types of salesperson. At the high end of performance charts, the type most likely to appear is what they term ‘The Challenger’, and they are characterised by their willingness to push and debate with their prospect. It is this salesperson ‘type’ which Dixon and Adamson hold up as the model for all salespeople to aspire to be like. In order to be able to ‘challenge’ though, one must first be very knowledgeable, not just about the product they are selling but also the market at large. With a sound understanding of the playing field, ‘The Challenger’ gains confidence by acting as an educator and then forces the prospect to look at the situation from new angles, eventually suggesting his product as the solution.

So there we have it; three of the most preferred approaches to selling, each with its own merits and a wealth of theory behind it.