I was in a conversation recently with an ex colleague of mine and she asked me a very simple question, how many different types of selling methods are there? I have to say I did not know the answer. I was driving home that evening and pondering on the question and trying to think of the correct answer, I then concluded there is no real right answer to the question.

There are so many different sectors in the market place and they all have their own specific sales techniques and different types of selling. There is no doubt that in all businesses there will be similarities with the basic principle of how to sell, but not only does each sector have variances and are extremely diverse in their teachings as well as their product ranges, but also every salesperson is different also.

I was remembering a time many years ago when I was in a direct sales role, selling Life assurance, Savings pensions and Investments and I remember in the early days just how I sold them products. My sales technique in them days was all about getting highly enthusiastic about the product and my type of selling would have been best described as product selling.

It was all about explaining the products and telling people about the benefits of the product and how it could help them, I never in them days realised that ‘telling wasn’t selling’ It is funny because I think early in peoples sales careers their learnings come from their own gut instinct of what to say and what to do or by learning from others.

I know in my case it was really learning from others, to be honest I was probably quite lucky that I had a manager in those days who would take me out on calls with him and I would just sit and listen and pick up whatever I could.

As he was good at this type of selling I assumed this was the right way, little did I know that there was a variety of ways on how to sell or that there was even such a thing as different sales techniques. Product selling was all I knew in them days and I thought that was the only type of selling, it generally consisted of the following steps:

  1. Introduction, this is where I would introduce myself and the company
  2. My reason for calling, (normally a new product offering)
  3. Rapport building and putting people at ease
  4. Finding something to compliment them on, the car, the house, the garden (anything)
  5. Introduction of whatever product I was trying to sell
  6. Explaining the benefits
  7. Managing any objections or rebuttals
  8. Closing the sale

Then if I am totally honest get out quick before they changed their mind!

That was my sales technique and my type of selling, looking back on it now it is funny, but I knew nothing different in those days, it really was to go in and sell the product. I had never heard of such things as establishing customer needs, finding solutions to their needs and matching products.

The funny thing about it is, that even though the selling methods we teach today on sales training courses are more geared towards finding solutions to prospects problems and establishing their needs way before we even discuss the product, there are still a lot of highly successful people still product selling with the sales techniques I have mentioned.

Times have changed many things in sales and there are definitely a large variety of different types of selling methods available to salespeople nowadays. They were probably always there but we didn’t understand them. Many of these ways are now covered throughout the length and breadth of the country on various sales training courses and Sales training seminars.

I feel that there is no doubt if someone possesses the ability to put the prospect at ease very early on in the sales process they can then decide which type of selling method may suit the situation.

I believe with all the different sales techniques and different types of selling methods available emotional intelligence and awareness plays a massive part in sales nowadays. We have to get good at being aware and reading situations, by doing this successfully we can then adapt our approach to match the prospect.

The other things that are important about the different types of selling and the various sales techniques is that if we have a large product range to sell this can influence the way we think of how to sell.

I often say on sales training courses if we product sell, it is a little bit like fishing with a fishing rod. We put a bit of bait on the rod, cast the line into the water and hope that the fish bite or go for the bait. When we product sell it is a bit like throwing the product out there and if the prospect shows any interest at all we can then try and reel them in like a fisherman would with a rod.

Although this is okay in certain situations, if we can get good at using different types of selling methods it is more like using a net to fish. For example, if I go back to the example I used earlier of someone selling financial services they have an array of products from Life assurance, pensions, savings, etc and if they establish the customer needs and find out what is important to the customer, then establish what the customer already has they can often sell 3 or 4 different products by finding gaps in what the customer has and what the customer wants or needs.

If this is the case then this is more like fishing with a net because you are throwing the net out instead of a rod with one product. I am no fisherman but I would imagine if you fish with a net you may get more fish than with a rod and the same principle applies to selling. generally where possible fishing with a net is more likely to get you a number of different fish. I stand to be corrected now by every fisherman in the country, but I hope you can get the point I am trying to make.

Then there are numerous other types of selling methods, some businesses may have to do demonstrations to sell their products, some companies may have a sales cycle that takes 12 months or more to get a sale over the line. In some types of selling you may need to attend numerous meetings and sell to a group in the boardroom, with not only one decision maker but many decision makers and influencers in the room.

There is no right way in how to sell and really no wrong way, I do like a saying I heard many years ago on a sales training course that said this ‘Selling is not about getting a product and trying to convince someone to buy it, sales is about helping prospects to identify a need that they may or may not have been aware of before you met them and helping them to choose your product to solve the need’

If salespeople can do this they will earn the trust of the prospect, so if salespeople can understand there is no one size fits all when it comes to different selling methods, and the sales techniques they use in one situation may not be the correct one to use for all situations they will be well on the road to understanding how different selling methods will improve their sales.

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