January 24, 2017


Adaptive selling & how to use it for sales

Adaptive selling is a strategy that requires the sales representative to adapt or customize the selling style based on the behavior of the customer. This method circulates as opposed to formula selling, which is a standardize approach based on a fixed sequence of steps and which does not change with the buying situation. Adaptive selling allows the salesperson to truly listen to the customer, searching for his needs and then giving a customized presentation of the service or product.

This approach becomes efficient when the sales have outweighed the costs through the practice of adaptive selling. There are four conditions in which even the sales representative will benefit a lot, when applying adaptive selling.

1) Encountering a wide variety of customers with different needs and analyzing their behavior

2) Salespeople have the chance to learn a lot when the sales situation involves a large order

3) The company provides resources for adaptation

4) The salespersons develops an inner capability of adapting.

However, the cornerstone of adaptive selling is understanding and accepting diversity about the different ways that people behave. The social style matrix is a useful tool for understanding how people behave, so one can adapt the selling style accordingly. It is based on patterns of communications and it plots two dimensions (assertiveness and responsiveness) for the four social styles: analytical, driver, amiable and expressive.

Each of the four social styles have specific features that are important to be considered when making a tailored presentation. An increased awareness of these behavioral styles, will make the sales rep adapt easily, and direct the conversation in a pleasant manner for the customer.

How to handle analyticals in Adaptive selling?

Analyticals in Adaptive selling

Analyticals are the ones who need as many concrete facts as possible before making a decision. They have a tendency to disregard personal opinion, and they mostly like to hear about tangible results. It is very important that all the pros and cons are given in detail, not only about the product or service, but also about the contract agreements. Basically, the salesperson must have in his pockets both technical answers regarding the product, as well as answers regarding the procedure (contract agreements for instance).

Tips for adaptive selling to Analyticals

When dealing with an analytical type, one should present slowly and focusing on the ‘’how’’. Use facts, numbers and make descriptions in detail. Use also warranties in order to diminish any perceived risk.

How to handle Drivers in adaptive selling?

Drivers in Adaptive selling

The drivers are characterized as the ones who want to win always, so they are victory chasers. Compared to analyticals, they make decisions very quickly and they like controlling. They also perceive team work just as a ‘’have to’’, and the members of the team are just some instruments needed for reaching the proposed goal. As key features, drivers are independent and competitive.

Tips for adapting to Drivers

The best way to adapt is to be professional and straight to the point. Small talks are quite undesirable, so one can jump straight to the topic discussion. Keep in mind to provide options, so the driver can feel that he is in control, and timelines, so he can see how fast the results can be achieved.

How to handle Amiables for adaptive selling?

Amiables in adaptive selling

From the suggested name, it is clearly understood that amiables value relationships, and they will not be controlling, but they will engage with people who inspire trust. They put emphasis on long term problem solving and will always prefer the answer to the question ‘’why’’ before taking an action.

Tips for adapting to Amiables

Small talk is very useful when getting in touch with amiables type. Showing that first all, you want to establish a relationship rather than just selling your product, will make them show interest to you. Remember to demonstrate personal commitment.

Expressives in Adaptive selling

These are the ones who see the big picture clearly, and are creative. They do not focus on details, but they have a vision for which they fight to get there. Relationship establishment is just a way to gain more power, or more support. Therefore, recognition and status are important for the expressives. Briefly, they like to talk about the next big idea.

Tips for adapting to Expressives

Do not bombard the expressives with facts and figures, as they will just get bored. Take some extra time to discuss what is happing on the large scale, for instance globally, and show approval. When presenting the product, appeal to their feelings and ask them about how they feel about the product or service.

However, it is important that the salesperson know firstly his own social type, before he can step into learning about the others. Therefore, the successful sales rep is the one who uses a combination of selling styles, depending on the situation.

Adaptive selling is bound to get very good results for any sales person who masters the art. By its very nature, adaptive selling is not devious. In fact, only a skilled sales person can wield this art, because only a skilled sales man knows the value of patience and perception. When you talk in the language that the customer wants to listen, naturally the conversion rate becomes higher. And that is why adaptive selling is used.


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About Hitesh Bhasin

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