"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
Ask several sales representatives about their favorite sales approach. The responses you’ll get in return will be as interesting or diverse as the individuals who offer them.
However, all sales approaches are essentially step-by-step propositions—developed to make the act of selling much more effective and reliable. Quite often, your personality, background, and experience determine the selling approach that works best for you.
Even if you believe you’ve found your best sales approach, every sales professional stands to benefit from trying different types of sales approaches from time to time.
In fact, your best sales approach might just result from a combination of several other sales approaches. So, which sales approach examples should you consider? And how can you incorporate the best elements of these methods into your own sales process?
No two sales professionals are alike—but everyone can benefit from refining their skills.
In this article, we will outline four different sales approaches you can immediately apply to any given selling situation. Each sales approach has its own unique strengths—along with the potential to revitalize your interest, enthusiasm, and understanding for the sales profession.
Before long, you will begin feeling comfortable enough to implement one, two, or a combination of all four of these approaches into your sales process. And boost your numbers along the way.
Let’s get started.
1. The Premium Sales Approach
Everyone appreciates a free gift. Your prospective customers are no different.
With the premium sales approach, sales professionals offer their prospects a giveaway or promotional item in an effort to build excitement about their product or brand. A key advantage of this selling approach is its ability to attract otherwise hesitant customers.
This free gift (or premium) can be as simple as a gift card. Other times, it can be an item with some connection to the product or service you sell for a living (e.g., if you’re in car sales, the premium you offer could be a year of free gas fill-ups or a set of snow tires.)
The premium sales approach is more common in B2C sales but can be applied to B2B scenarios, like including 6-months of tech support with an enterprise SaaS purchase.
Once their attention is captured with a premium, your prospects will be more motivated to listen to your sales presentation or return your phone calls. Remember, this approach is only meant to initiate contact and shouldn’t become an aspect of every sales pitch.
2. The Product Sales Approach
Making an important buying decision can be exciting. It can also be intimidating. This is particularly true when you’re considering the purchase of a new product or service,
Selling something new or unproven (at least in the eyes of your prospect) takes more time and attention. Potential customers conduct research and compare competitors. A recent Harvard Business Review survey of 500 B2B salespeople across a wide variety of industries—from technology to financial services to industrial products—revealed:
- Salespeople selling new products spend 32% more face-to-face time with customers.
- Objections occur later in the process for new innovations than for established products.
With the product sales approach, you provide prospects with a sample (or free trial) to evaluate what you have to offer. It’s a great way to show value and establish credibility.
This sales approach can also take the form of a product demonstration. For hands-on or visual learners, this is especially helpful as it allows them to see your product in action.
3. The Network Sales Approach
Whether it’s B2B or B2C sales, building a list of prospects and developing relationships with them are crucial to the process. This is where you may have a hidden advantage.
Using the network sales approach lets you strategically rely on your own list of personal and professional connections. Whatever the size, your network of family, friends, and past coworkers can provide the foundation you need to uncover qualified leads and generate solid referrals.
Social media networks offer a natural environment to build your prospect list. Research shows 69% of U.S. adults use Facebook and typically have a network of 338 friends. 27% of LinkedIn users have between 500 and 999 1st-level professional connections.
Sales is about building trust. Networking is sales with people who already trust you.
You can also employ this sales approach to help identify the well-connected individuals within your network who can introduce you to an untapped resource of qualified leads.
Of course, applying the network sales approach isn’t a license to go through your entire list of contacts to bother people who would otherwise not be a solid sales prospects or qualified lead. Use good judgment. If your offer can provide value, add them to your list.
4. The Prescriptive Sales Approach
Giving prospective customers all the information and options they need to arrive at the right decision sounds like a good thing. After all, being flexible to the direction (or whims) of your customers should make the buying process easier and ultimately increase sales. This impulse to quickly respond and offer endless support is seen in more common sales tactics, such as:
- Ensuring customers have every case study, testimonial, and brochure
- Adjusting your offer to meet the ever-changing demands of the customer
- Providing customers with more time to consider all possible alternatives
Logic suggests being customer-centered should result in more sales. But the latest research shows that providing additional information and multiple options may actually suppress sales.
An HBR survey of 600 B2B buyers reveals it drives an 18% decrease in purchase ease.
Fortunately, the prescriptive sales approach takes the opposite tactic. Within the same buyer survey, it was shown to increase purchase ease by 86%. With the prescriptive sales approach, the sales professional offers a clear recommendation for action to customers—backed by a specific rationale. Any complex aspects of the sale are explained upfront. If added approval is needed from the purchasing department, invite them into the sale early on.
Customers often appreciate and respect the prescriptive sales approach. It helps them see the sales representative as being proactive—predicting and eliminating obstacles. Additionally, customers who undergo a prescriptive sales process experience less sales regret and are more likely to repurchase, compared to conventional sales methods.
This approach is ideal for leading customers through the three common buying stages:
- Early buying stage: This is where customers have trouble distinguishing between meaningful and irrelevant information and deciding if more information is needed.
- Middle buying stage: This is where customers encounter competing priorities and hidden concerns about the purchase. They may question their need for change.
- Late buying stage: This is where customers become overwhelmed by having too many purchase options and confused by the late introduction of different options.
The prescriptive sales approach is more an organizational aptitude than an individual skill—one that can be applied to marketing content just as well as sales conversations.
How to use the different sales approaches to create your own
By experimenting with these four different sales approaches, you can start developing a selling technique that accommodates your unique product or service, as well as your customer base. Adapt sales tactics to fit the requirements of your particular business.
A solid sales approach doesn’t guarantee a sale. But it will help set the stage for the next crucial steps in the process, from giving the presentation and handling objections to closing the sale and following up with customers (for repeat business and referrals).