The evolution of selling – The developmental stages of a salesperson
Did you know that there are discrete developmental stages in the development of a salesperson which can be clearly differentiated?
Here they are:
1. The feature salesperson
The first and lowest level is the so called feature salesperson. A feature salesperson sells and arguments on basis of mere, unfiltered, undirected, untailored, unreflected product features and of course: also on basis of the price.
2. The functionality salesperson
Almost the same is true for the functionality salesperson. Here in this developmental level we are already one step more into direction of “functionalities” which the customer could use. The difference here is that the customer already plays a more important role. But still not enough. By far not enough.
3. The benefit-advantage salesperson
A salesperson in this developmental stage is already capable of finding and using arguments based on a benefit or even an advantage for the customer. In this stage, we are moving one step into “seeing the world through the eyes of the customer”. Which is already a great step.
But still, in this stage, we as salespersons are thinking primarily product centered – and not, or only a little bit, customer centric. We are thinking so to say from the “inside out”. From our product inside out. We are thinking with a mindset from our own world and not with the mindset of the customer.
Even though this is already a great step, still it neglects and ignores one of the most important insights for us as successful and modern salespersons. And this is the awareness for the real problem of the customer.
The very one problem which the customer wants to solve with our product. And remember: This is not necessarily always this one problem which the customers tell us. The real problem may be a hidden one, a more subtle one.
4. The solution salesperson
In this stage we are in one of the highest possible developmental stages we can reach as a salesperson. Because here we are aware of the real problems of our customers. We know what they really want. We are aware of their real and true problems.
And in addition, and this is probably the most important aspect, we know how to utilize our product to solve their problem. One thing is important to note here in this developmental stage of a solution salesperson: Here of course it is about our product or our products, but most important it is about our customers. The DISC-model is an extremely helpful and professional tool for us salespersons to give those considerations a profound structure.
In this developmental stage of a solution salesperson, whatever we do: we do not start thinking with our products. But rather we start thinking with our customers. Who are they? What persons are they? Exactly what problems do they have? What exactly do they want to do with our product? We as solution salespersons know exactly their problems and needs and we know how to solve them by offering our products.
Here, we as a salesperson are thinking from the outside world (which is customer and competitors) into the inside world. So from outside to the inside. This affects not only pure sales and selling, but also more strategic issues like for example product development and innovation.
Also knowledge about competition is an important part here in this stage. What argumentation lines do they use? Which products they deploy in what situations? How do they work? Do they have a special solution to the problem of the customers? And much more.
Two more developmental stages of a salesperson
Of course there are two additional stages above the solution salesperson:
The first one is the consulter, which already involves at least the perception of some degree of objectivity. And above that there is something like a guru, or God, or love.
Don’t get me wrong: also in the higher developmental levels of a salesperson it is still important to know the product. Because of course after all this is what we sell, this is what it is about when we sell, this is what has to be designed to address the customer’s need and expectation, this is what has to meet the requirements from competition, and much more.
But fact is also: The higher you climb in the developmental pyramid of salespersons, the more you need interpersonal skills. The more it is about you as a person. Then aspects, skills and capabilities like the power of inducing trust and authenticity become important and valuable assets. This render a salesperson really powerful and effective.
Do you have questions?
The DISC-booklet is free for download as your personal starting point in everything what has to do with the DISC-model.
Copyright © by Dr. Martin Auer, 2018
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B2b- vs b2c sales: The 5 most important differences
„B2b sales“ is a term used for whatever sales situation of a company with another company or with an institution. E.g. if as a customer no private end-user is involved (which would be „b2c“).
The term „b2b sales“ covers three main categories when classified according to the nature of the customer:
The sales presentation – a matter of perspective – or: The 5 most important questions that salespeople should ask themselves before every sales presentation
A successful sales presentation must first of all be one thing: customer centric. This means that the customer’s problems need to be first priority. This requires a thorough preparation.
This sounds banal, but nevertheless is often ignored in practice. In particular greenhorns in sales often underestimate the importance of a good preparation.