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Adaptive Selling

Adaptive Selling for Inside Sales: Conform, Modify, Convert

October 16th, 2019

Let's face a cold, hard fact: the sales process is not a “one size fits all” proposition. From established customers to prospective new ones, people quickly tire of ill-timed communications. Call interruptions, unwelcome emails, robocalls, and automated follow-ups from online activity all have a lasting effect.

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The solution? Adaptive selling.

What Is Adaptive Selling?

Adaptive selling is sales personnel understanding the needs of their customer, and selling to the individual. When your team uses adaptive selling techniques, they change and adapt their sales behaviors based on the situation.

If your sales team wants to make a successful sale, they need rapport with people in the target demographic. A salesman needs to know and understand the individuals with whom they plan to pitch a deal. They also need to gain trust, build confidence, and make sure to please the customer at the end of the transaction.

When employing an adaptive selling approach, a salesman adapts and changes in real time. This wit individualizes their selling style according to the sale situation and the prospect's behavior. In other words, drop the stale, standardized presentation. An adaptive seller listens to them as people, understand their needs, and adapts the presentation and conversation to fit.

Adaptive Selling in a Call Center Environment

An article in the Journal of Interactive Marketing talks about the benefits of centralization inherent in a call center environment. There are clear advantages to sales that a call center provides.

Customers contact a call center via phone or web-based communications from a variety of geographic areas. This diversity further supports the need for an adaptive selling approach. Therefore, a salesman who assesses each call and adapts to the individual situation is a premium asset to any sales team.

Make sure your sales team has access to and is well versed in the use of call center software. Good software displays the caller's entire history when they initiate or receive a call.

Take the Time to Train

To reap the benefits of an adaptive selling approach, training your sales team is critical. Your salespeople must have an in-depth knowledge of the product or service they’re offering to their customers. Supplement that with training for various situations that may arise.

Adaptive selling can be the determining factor for your sales team’s ability to keep customers happy and returning. When your salesmen interact uniquely with individuals, their improved sales numbers reflect the appreciation for the “personal touch.” This depth of care goes beyond a great product or service.

Understanding How People Behave

Adaptive selling is all about understanding and coping with the different ways people behave. Studies of social norms identify four broad categories of human behavior. A sales staff versed in these styles knows how to interact effectively with people in each group. In turn, it becomes easier to master adaptive selling techniques.

The four identified social styles are analytical, driver, amiable and expressive.

  • Analytical style. These people need concrete facts before they make a decision. They aren’t impressed by personal opinion but prefer to hear about tangible results. When dealing with the analytical type, use numbers, facts, and give vivid details. Is there a warranty? If so, be sure to mention it.
  • Driver style. These people are the ones who always want to win. They like to control the conversation and make decisions quickly. Make your approach professional and straightforward. Be sure not to waste your time on small talk; they won’t appreciate it. Be sure to offer options, so the driver feels in control.
  • Amiable style. These people like to engage with people who inspire trust. They focus more on long term problem-solving than snap decisions. The amiable type engages in small talk with you. The back and forth lets them know that you’re interested in establishing a relationship.
  • Expressive style. These people see things in terms of the “big picture.” Recognition and status carry weight with their expressions. They aren’t interested in facts and figures but find interest in large scale happenings involving your product or service.

Using Adaptive Selling

Ask yourself this: Am I effective when I conduct a sales conversation? If your truthful answer is “no,” it’s time to examine your technique. It’s time to make the modifications that adaptive selling encompasses.

Which tactics need modification to fit into an adaptive selling approach? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Adaptive selling means the conversation centers on the customer, not the salesperson. Drop the opening, “Let me tell you why I called.” Focus your opening on your client and the challenge(s) they’re facing; after all, you’re in the business of solving their problem(s) or filling their needs.
  • Moderate the use of the customer’s name. If you’re constantly repeating their name, your conversation sounds phony, scripted, and forced. It sounds like you’re reading from a form with [fill in name here] throughout.
  • Speak the language of the person you're talking to: literally and figuratively. Make use of your call center software to learn the background of the individual you’re calling. If you sound condescending, insincere or talk over their head, you’ve lost them.
  • Frame questions to determine if your customer is ready to move forward in the sales process. If there is hesitation, you need to adapt your sales approach to go back, gain credibility and trust, then forge ahead with the sale.

Mastering the art of adaptive selling is sure to improve conversion rates and customer satisfaction. It says you value the customer by showing you understand them and sincerely want to make them happy.