Big data, mobile phones, social media, and the Internet have all played a role in the changing expectations of a customer in a sales transaction. In the past, it was enough for salespeople to focus on and sell the product or service. Today, customers expect sales professionals to focus entirely on them. Not only that, but they expect salespeople to know them and to anticipate their needs before they even express them.
Solution vs. Conceptual Selling
When people buy a solution, both they and the salespeople are attempting to meet an immediate need. For example, a company that has outdated software or hardware needs to upgrade to track customer information and keep up with the competition. It stands to lose considerable ground if someone doesn’t take immediate action.
Conceptual selling, on the other hand, looks at both the future and the present. The sales representative still offers products and services to meet an immediate need, but he or she also asks the prospect to consider future needs. In the computer example above, the salesperson could ask the customer to envision how he or she would respond when everyday systems become obsolete. This allows them to collaborate to plan for future sales.
Using Word Pictures to Increase the Percentage of Closed Sales
Closing statements tend to be somewhat vague with solution-focused selling. With the computer customer, the sales representative might say something like “Let me give you a demonstration of how our software and hardware can solve your current problem.” There’s nothing wrong with that, but it probably won’t result in a long-term sales relationship.
With conceptual selling, the sales professional paints a picture for the prospect that makes him or her more willing to justify an ongoing expense. For example, “Computer hardware and software programs continue to evolve. What would happen if you had an urgent need and didn’t set aside the budget for it? When you make a commitment to proactively upgrading your equipment, you don’t have to worry about it.” This example is far more likely to result in the customer buying into regular upgrades than the first example.
Selling a Vision Takes More Time and Effort
This type of selling requires a radical change in thinking. Salespeople also need to commit to developing and nurturing a vision rather than selling a product or service right now. This requires patience as the sale might not happen for months or years. Conceptual selling plants seeds that remain with people until the time they feel ready to follow through with a purchase. It also means selling ideas and visions.
People grow weary of others trying to sell them products and services, especially when the salesperson is pushy or hyper about it. They take a different approach to ideas presented as transformative, fresh, and informative. These concepts make them think and envision how they can become part of the new ideas. For the sales professional, the key to success is to keep in touch and keep offering a better vision of the future.