13 Types of Sales Approaches To Try

Updated March 16, 2023

In sales, the type of approach you use to build rapport with your customers can influence your success rate. Knowing which approach will work with each customer is a skill that any salesperson can work to develop. Understanding the difference between the approaches may help you figure out how to use and combine them for a more successful sale rate.

In this article, we will discuss what a sales approach is and 13 different types of sales approaches.

What is a sales approach?

A sales approach describes the techniques a salesperson uses to convince potential customers to purchase a product. Salespeople may be better at using one sales approach over another for a variety of reasons, like what they are selling, what their background is and what kind of communication with which they're most comfortable. You can use these techniques to:

  • Try out different approaches to see what works

  • Find one approach that works consistently for you and use it on every customer

  • Use a combination of multiple sales approaches

Related: Is "Always Be Closing" the Right Approach for Sales Professionals?

13 types of sales approaches

Here are some different sales approaches that you can use when interacting with potential customers:

1. Soft sell

A soft sell approach is when you interact with the customer without pressuring them to purchase anything outright. You answer their questions, make recommendations and provide additional information that you think may entice the customer, but you ultimately leave the decision-making up to the customer. This approach is common in retail environments where customers and salespeople are interacting face-to-face. Some soft selling techniques are:

  • Mentioning how popular your product is

  • Mentioning your positive experience with the product

  • Recommending products

  • Mentioning the low cost of products compared to competitors

2. Hard sell

A hard sell approach is a more persistent approach where you pursue the customer to purchase immediately or make them feel they can't purchase at another time. Salespeople implement this technique with discretion, as not all customers respond positively to it. However, there can be times when this approach is useful if combined with the soft sell approach.

For example, if there is a promotion on your product and you know the customer won't get the discount another time, you can build from a soft selling approach to a hard selling approach to make the sale during the promotion period.

Related: 26 Closing Techniques To Make the Sale

3. Consultative selling

Consultative selling is usually a business-to-business sales technique, and it relies on the salesperson building a relationship with the customer. As the salesperson, you are an expert in the product that you are selling, and you present yourself as a trusted consultant to your client's business. You build trust by asking them about their business needs and challenges and you use that information to find out how your product can help your customer.

This approach can take some time to establish, but if executed effectively, it may lead to continued sales over time due to the customer's trust in the salesperson.

Read more: Consultative Selling: Definition, Techniques and Examples

4. Solution selling

Solution selling is when you identify the problems your customer is trying to solve and determine which of your products can provide a solution. This selling approach lets the customer's needs guide you when directing the customer to a product or completing the sale. You can identify the needs of the customer and create a solution customized to the customer.

An example of this would be a website developer selling their services to a business by helping them determine their website needs, then constructing a website mock-up specifically for the company.

Read more: Solution Selling: What It Is and How To Use It

5. Networking

The networking approach to sales is when you cultivate a large group of professional and social acquaintances that you can go to for a steady influx of leads. You are using the networking approach if you get most of your sales from this group. Some groups that may be part of your network are:

  • Friends

  • Family

  • Coworkers

  • Former classmates

  • Salespeople from other companies

  • Customers

  • Former customers

Salespeople who already have extensive networks, who are very outgoing or who frequent social occasions with potential customers may find success with this technique. When you use this technique, you may have other salespeople in your network ask you for support, as networking relationships tend to be reciprocal.

Related: The Complete Guide To Networking

6. The guru approach

The guru approach is when you rely on the facts of the product to convince the customer to buy instead of appealing to the customer's emotions or trying to solve their problems. This approach works for people who prefer to do a lot of research, don't mind answering questions and may have a calm or stoic demeanor. It can also be very effective on customers who are resistant to emotional or overt selling approaches.

This sales approach works for retail situations that have a high technical level, like technology or car sales. Customers may feel you are a reliable industry resource and trust your recommendations, causing repeated business and quality referrals.

7. The buddy approach

The buddy approach is the opposite of the guru approach because it often works best for salespeople who are naturally friendly and warm. This approach relies on the idea that people want to do business with people they like. You can be friendly by asking questions about the customer and showing a genuine interest in what they have to say in order to create an emotional connection with them.

The most important aspect of this approach is sincerity, so it may require some follow up with your customers to check in and maintain your relationship with them. This sales approach is appropriate for retail sales like jewelry, bridal gowns or anything else that may have significant personal value.

8. Conceptual selling

Conceptual selling is an approach based on the idea that customers want to buy a concept more than they want to buy a product. This means that as the salesperson, you can determine the concept the customer already has of the product and market to that idea. In order to discover what the customer's concept is, you can ask the questions that:

  • Confirm information from the initial point of contact with the customer

  • Gather new information

  • Discover the customer's connection to the product

  • Gage their commitment to the product

  • Identify any hesitancy the customer has

Related: 7 Methods of Selling and How To Choose the Right One

9. SNAP selling

SNAP selling is an approach that creates an environment where the salesperson and the customer are equals who have the same goal. The purpose of this approach is the keep the customer's needs as the focus of the conversation. The acronym "SNAP" stands for:

  • Simple: Keep your pitch simple and provide basic information about what you are selling.

  • I(N)valuable: Showcase how your product is invaluable to the customer.

  • Always align: Make sure you are in sync with the customers' needs.

  • Priorities: Keep the important decisions and solutions at the forefront of the conversation.

10. MEDDIC selling

The MEDDIC sales approach focuses on determining which customers are worth your energy and resources. This approach works for enterprise sales which are B2B and typically have a much larger financial scope than other sales. Salespeople in this environment may pay closer attention to which customers are appropriate to pursue so that they don't miss opportunities with more profitable customers. The acronym "MEDDIC" stands for:

  • Metrics: What revenue is at stake?

  • Economic buyer: Who controls the budget?

  • Decision criteria: What criteria is the organization evaluating against to choose a vendor?

  • Decision process: What are the stages the organization plans to go through before they make a decision?

  • Identify pain: What is the financial cost of waiting to buy?

  • Champion: Who is doing the selling?

Read more: Understanding Sales Methodology: Learn About 10 Popular Sales Methodologies

11. Target account selling

Target account selling focuses on reaching out to customers you have segmented out into a target demographics. In order to identify the right customers, you can research extensively which customers have the traits that single them out strong leads for potential sales. This approach favors the quality of potential customers who are likely to purchase over reaching out to a high quantity of potential customers, many of whom are unpromising leads. This sales approach works for salespeople who are selling through digital spaces, like websites or social media.

12. Gap selling

Gap selling focuses on establishing the goals of the customer and emphasising the gap between where their business is now and what their goals are. Instead of focusing on fixing an issue, it focuses on viewing the product as aspirational. You can position your product as what the customer needs to achieve the goals it has set for itself.

Using this approach means shifting the customer's focus from solving a problem to overcoming obstacles that they may not have considered addressing since they did not have your product to help them do so.

13. Customer personality

The customer personality approach is when you decide which approach might work best based on the personality of the customer with whom you are working.

For example, if a customer is outgoing and overly chatty, you may not want to use an approach that asks too many questions, as it can take up time. However, in this situation, you can still choose an approach that reciprocates the enthusiastic personal connection they want to make.

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