ADAPTS: Varies selling style, tactics and approach to make the most of the sales situation

“Mahesh, I don’t mean to rain on your party” said Shailendra, Director Sales Popova Ply Products. He smiled at his Territory Sales Head

“No problem Sir” said Mahesh, “I want your critical opinion about this learning plan for our Area Sales Managers and Senior RMs”

“Alright, here goes. This is like a brilliant aircraft prototype. But I’m not sure if it will fly”

“But Sir, it covers all the key capabilities including developing a Customer-centric selling style, winning over buyer groups, handling competition, price selling, influencing C suite and developing one’s personal brand. Quite comprehensive I thought”

“I know, the coverage is good. But that’s exactly the issue. The challenge is not about what our people don’t know. It’s about how well they are able to adapt what they know to different sales situations and sell successfully. Ultimately Mahesh, knowledge that isn’t practiced or applied for business creation is as good as non-existent. It’s like possessing expensive, fancy gadgets not knowing how to use them”

“So what do you suggest Sir?”

“If I were you, I would check for how much of the learning plan is committed to practice and application. And how well they learn to adapt their sales skills to constantly changing market needs”

“Ok Sir. We will try and locate a good Performance Improvement Partner who can actually help our people practice and apply their skills and also periodically review the progress our people are making”

“Remember Mahesh, this isn’t very different from kids playing with modelling clay. It's not about just handing them a box of colored clay, saying 'Here, have fun'. You need to encourage them to use it and actually create models combining different colors and shapes. Sales behaviors are like modelling clay. Skilling Up in a sales context is about being able to use the right behavior in the right place, in the right way, at the right time. In helping our people thus adapt to the demands of the situation lies our success. Do keep me posted on how the learning initiative is progressing. All the Best!”

6 Surprising Buyer Insights that favour Adaptive Sales Behaviour

What is the one thing master sales professionals use to swing sales deals? According to research findings published in Harvard Business Review (June 23, 2017) it is not one thing really, but 6 things.

The findings were the result of a Survey done by Steve W. Martin Professor of Sales Strategy at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. The Survey uncovered 6 fascinating insights that seemed to favour adaptive sales behaviour.

Here are the 6 insights and the action cues we can infer from them to tip the sales closure odds to our advantage, employing adaptive sales behaviour:

(1) One selling style doesn’t fit all - 40% of Customer respondents preferred a salesperson who listens, understands and then matches solution to solve a specific problem. 30% wanted their trust to be earned by making them feel comfortable. The remaining 30% liked their thoughts and pre-held ideas to be challenged with a solution not known to them

Action Cue: Consciously vary your selling style to suit your Customer, to improve sales outcomes

(2) Committees don’t really count, individuals do - Survey found 90% participants confirming that 89% of the time, one individual in the evaluation committee is able to influence the decision

Action Cue: Identify the individual dominating the evaluation committee and invest time in engaging with him all through the purchase journey instead of making efforts to win over the entire committee

(3) Advantage market leader but not all the way - Not all buyers are fixated on the market leader and are quite willing to try out other options the Survey found

Action Cue: Use functionality and cost comparisons to demonstrate your product’s value and hold your own against market leaders

(4) Often price is more in the seller’s mind – The Survey found that buyers behaviour falls into 3 distinct decision-factor buckets that varies with function and industry. (i) Price Conscious (ii) Price Sensitive (iii) Price Immune

Action Cue: To beat price selling blues, analyse and understand buying propensity of the Customer and the significance of price in the buyer’s scheme of things

(5) Ability to force buying decisions is not uniform across buyer groups - Given that in any company there are always competing demands for purchase resources in any buying entity, the ability of the buyer group to push through internal resistance is critical for the sales effort to succeed

Action Cue: Get the measure of your buyer group’s internal clout to calibrate your sales efforts

(6) Charisma alone doesn’t open all doors – A friendly, likeable and product proficient salesperson is of course, a top draw in all industries. But charisma alone is insufficient to charm every sales resistance into submission. Selling style preferences were differentiated across industry types.

Action Cue: Do leverage your personal magnetism but be mindful of the selling style comfortable to the target group

So, what is the big takeaway?

Buying decisions are not always rational as human motivations are complex. What separates a win from loss is the ability to assess the intangible, intuitive human element in purchase decisions and develop a contextual understanding of how such decisions are made.

That explains why master sales professionals adapt their selling style, tactics and approach to the unique needs of the sales situation. Adaptive behaviour is a positive that builds their sales resilience

Mercuri Insight: “For a Sales Person ‘different strokes for different folks’ is easier said than done. Sales People need ‘tools’ that they can use to determine and do what it takes to stroke different decision makers in different situations, differently. Herein lies the essence of Sales Execution”

Pause to reflect:  ” What separates a win from loss (in sales) is the ability to assess the intangible, intuitive human element in purchase decisions and develop a contextual understanding of how such decisions are made. ”

Action Question: Take a fresh look at the Top 5 deals in your pipeline. How can you use the 6 buyer insights to improve your closure odds?

Related Readings: Mercuri In Essence Document on 6 Surprising Buyer Insights that can tip closure odds in your favour

Takeaway Quote:  “The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person.” ― Stephen R. Covey

About the series:  This is the 89th in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your Sales Resilience ... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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