By Bill Hellkamp, REACH Development Systems
Over the years I have had the pleasure of managing, training and coaching many sales men and women. During that time I have observed that each of them had a certain level of innate selling ability. My job was to help them identify where they were in this hierarchy, and if it was their desire, to help them move up to become more effective and successful sales professionals. Here are the sales levels I’ve identified. See if you can tell where you fall and what it will take to move forward.
Order Taker – This is such a basic level of selling that it might not be selling at all. It is waiting for the phone to ring and entering their order into the computer or standing at the cash register and ringing it up. This is done without giving any thought to what the customer is buying and if there is any way to help them make better decisions.
Customer Server – We might call this level of selling the advanced order taker. They are still waiting for the customer to come to them, so they have a passive nature. But when they engage with the customer, they do so with a friendly and thoughtful attitude. They ask the customer questions about their project and will suggest supporting or add-on items (You want fries with that?). In addition, they are aware of special offers that will be to the client’s advantage (If you increase your order by forty more dollars, the shipping will be free.) and make mention of them to each client. They usually have obtained some product knowledge commensurate with their service time and can answer many of the customer’s questions.
Friendly Visitor – We move now from the realm of the inside salesperson to the outside. This is the person that makes regular visits to his customers and is always welcome. He or she is charming, genial and non-offensive. They bring in donuts and take the client to lunch, golfing or a ball game. They are relationship driven and rely on their personal charm to carry the sale. When the customer has a problem, a question or an order, the Friendly Visitor will get it taken care of promptly and correctly. Because the relationship is so important to this selling style, they are hesitant to “push” their product on the customer, but they will bring the catalogs and brochures and leave them with the client. The client’s biggest challenge with this style is that since they aren’t bringing any real value to relationship (other than freebies), they don’t always have time for the friendly visitor, but like them too much to tell them to leave. Over time this can cause harm to the relationship.
Tour Guide – While this selling style is sociable and capable (having all the attributes of the Friendly Visitor), he is also able to present information to his client. When he makes a call on them (or when they call him over), he is able to deal with their questions and show them the different products or services that will satisfy their needs. He doesn’t do much in the way of suggestive selling, but is really good at dealing with well-defined needs. He is also able to demonstrate new products as they come in and makes these demonstrations a regular part of his client visits.
Resource – This sales person goes beyond meeting the customer’s needs and finds ways to become connected to their organization. She keeps in regular touch through informative emails and even remembers special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. Her industry knowledge is up-to-date, so the clients look to her as an expert and request her advice whenever they need information in that field. Because of this, she is seen as a resource to the client and her sales are strong because of it.
Consultant – A key to the consultant is that he doesn’t see himself as a salesperson, but as an industry expert, and an essential asset to both his company and his clients. He values his time and doesn’t waste it on organizations that don’t appreciate and reward his efforts on their behalf. When he meets with a client, he moves quickly into an analysis mode, asking well designed questions and looking for unique solutions to the client’s issues. When he has gathered sufficient information, he analyses it and provides a comprehensive solution for the customer. His professionalism and confidence help him win the deal. Being a smart marketer, the consultant salesperson continues to build his credibility by speaking at industry conferences, conducting webinars and writing articles for company or industry newsletters.
Innovator – The ultimate level of selling is one that removes the competition from the picture. Why? Because this salesperson is well ahead of them in the process. She doesn’t bring products or services to her customers, she doesn’t even bring solutions! What she does bring her clients are new ideas that will make or save them money in ways that they hadn’t even considered. She is able to do this because of her creative aptitude, industry knowledge and ability to solve complex problems. Her client list is made up of the key decision makers in their respective organizations and they are eager to meet with her when she wants to bring them an innovative idea.
So, how did you rate yourself? It is likely that you saw parts of your selling process in a few of the styles. It is also likely that you saw some areas where you should get better to increase your selling skills. That is the first step. Know where you want to go so you can look for resources to get you there. And if you desire guidance, REACH Development Systems is here to help.