An Overview of 12 Selling Models

By robert p. degroot, m.ed., lpc, rh

As economic conditions changed and business had to meet new challenges, selling also had to evolve. With new skills came new sales models. With new models came new kinds of training. Below are the 12 models now in general use by sales trainers.

Personal Preparation Models.

These focus on the salesperson’s personality.

1. 5-P Sales Model: This basic model was defined as “Product Pushing through Personality, Persistence and Price.” This was the land of the “born salesman.” These people had an engaging personality and tenacious persistence. With a low price and playing a simple numbers game, they could make sales. Even today, people wake up in the morning and decide to go into selling with few or no skills. For them, mental conditioning is a must.

2. Mental Conditioning Sales Model: People in sales hear the word “no” more often in a few months than people in other occupations do in an entire lifetime. When salespeople lose their excitement and enthusiasm for what they sell, their prospects respond likewise. Mental conditioning is to selling as physical conditioning is to sports. Significant advancements have been made from the short-lived motivation sessions. Today Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Psychological Kinesthesiology and other methods are available to build stamina.

3. Relationship Sales Model: This model was based on building a relationship by calling on the same prospect repeatedly over an extended period of time. The salesperson and the buyer got to know each other better on both professional and personal levels. At the core of this model is the ability to cross boundaries, but not violate them.

4. Personality Styles Sales Model: The importance of relationships in selling fostered the use of psychological assessment instruments to identify key personality characteristics. Based on the recognition that different personality types prefer their own particular style of interaction, this model provides structure to the interaction and relationship-building components of selling.

Presentation-Based Models

These focus on using the presentation portion of the sales interaction to do the actual selling.

5. Closing Sales Model: Introduced in the 1950s, heavy emphasis was placed on presentation skills, trial closing and overcoming objections, then going for the final major closing sequence. In its pure form, this model was, and still is today, most commonly used in high-pressure sales.

6. Problem-Solving Sales Model: In the early 1960s, sales professionals were taught to ask open- and closed-ended questions to probe for problems. Once discovered, solutions were then presented. In today’s highly competitive markets, this model has a tendency to elicit the “price” objection.

7. Value-Added Sales Model: This model emerged in the late 1960s to counteract the tendency of the Problem-Solving Model to elicit a price objection. When the price objection is anticipated, incentives are “added on” to the basic product/service as a means to make up the difference in customer perceived value versus price.

8. Consultative Sales Model: This model was introduced in the early 1970s. The focus was to determine how the sales professional could lower the customer’s operating costs and/or increase the customer’s ability to generate revenues. This model requires that you have an extensive track record and strong proof of results. Consequently, it had limited application for new companies, new products or new services.

Applications Models

Fully developed primarily during the 1980s in response to special selling situations these are more strategic in nature and assume the salesperson already knows how to sell.

9. Partnering Sales Model: The partnering model is not a “legal” partnership. Rather it is a part of the “Total Quality Management” process many U.S. companies are now pursuing. Partnering is usually done at the highest levels within the seller’s and customer’s organizations. To successfully partner, the salesperson must understand the needs of the “customer’s customers.” Collectively, the seller and customer build and exchange business plans related to the product/service.

10. Team Selling Model: Although it has been around for many years, it is just now becoming popular with sales organizations. This process involves a number of people at various levels interacting with a similar group at the same level at the prospect company. The sales professional is primarily engaged in a communications-coordinating “quarterback” role. Roles, boundaries, authorities, procedures and communications are necessary for this model.

11. Complex Sales Model: Long lead times and big ticket items, coupled with multiple decision makers, both internal and external to the client company, i.e., banks, citizens groups, governments, etc., characterize the profile of a selling organization utilizing the “complex sales model.” The primary focus is to define the strategic approach to the account.

Value Selling Matrix Models

In a value selling process the actual selling is done during the interview phase of the sales interaction, rather than the traditional presentation phase.

12. Value Selling Model: This relatively new model introduced in the late 1980s was developed as the result of reduced product/service differentiation, competitor-induced increased pressure on price, new products and services that have no track records, as well as flatter organizations staffed with people who no longer have the time to listen to sales presentations.

Value selling is designed to prevent the price objection by establishing the value of the solution using the prospect’s data. The criteria-driven version of this model uses an “irrefutable logic stream” so that proof of performance is not necessary and sets the seller’s unique selling points as criteria to select a supplier in order to rule out the competition.

Which One Is For You?

The quickest way to discover the model of selling you are currently using is by the objections you get. For example, if you get price objections, then you know that you are using a model that is preconsultative selling. Or, if you have to add “give aways” in order to prevent the price objection, then you are in a value-added model. If you encounter a lot of competitive pressure, then you are in a pre-partnering or pre-matrix model. In selecting a sales training program, look at the types of objections you are getting, the type of selling you are doing and the product and service you are selling, then look for the model that will provide you with the greatest return on your training investment.