What Are The Different Types Of Selling?

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

show product cartoon
By different types of sales, we’re referring to the sales styles that salespeople will adopt when they are with prospects and customers. Either face-to-face or online.

Over the years the styles have changed because buyers’ needs have changed. We’ve always had to reflect these changes in the Sales Training that we provide.

If we were to sell in the same way as the snake-oil salespeople of the Wild West in 19th century America, we would be very quickly out of a job.

Think about how you sell. How would you describe your own sales style?

Is it consultative? Do you go in for the kill in a hard sell way? Do you approach each encounter in a solution focused way? Or are you a challenger salesperson?

Each sales style is different.

Types Of Selling

Selling, no matter what kind of style you adopt is all about an exchange of value.

It’s where money is exchanged for products or services.

The process that you follow is the style of selling that you will adopt in order for that exchange of value to occur and will be based on what you’re selling and your company approach to winning business.

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of selling.

1) Transactional Selling

Using this type of sales technique, the intention of the salesperson is to overtly sell their product. There doesn’t appear to be much of a sales process. Any process that is in place normally follows the adage of ‘pile them high, sell them cheap’. It’s a quick sale. This type of selling is reserved for the one-off sale where there isn’t much chance of repeat business so developing a long-term relationship is not a priority for the salesperson. There’s not a massive fact find with this type of selling and the number of sales questions that are asked are limited. You’re not going to ask lots of questions when purchasing a sports bag for the gym for example!

Most transactional sales occur in a business to customer (B2C) environment especially in retail stores.

2) Product-Oriented Selling

As you can imagine, this is where the salesperson just talks about the product and very little else. Salespeople often get roped into this type of sale when a prospect says to them ‘what do you do and why are you selling this to me?’

It revolves around the features and benefits of the product and tries to blind the prospect with science. Demonstrations and examples of the product in action are the normal way of proceeding with this particular type of selling.

Do you remember in “The Wolf of Wall Street” when Jordan Belfort asked someone in the crowd to “sell me this pen?” well, this is an example of product-orientated selling. I’m not a big fan of it because it’s mainly one way without a detailed fact find.

3) Solution Selling

Using this type of sales technique, a salesperson will identify and figure out the needs of a customer through different questions and will then present a solution to those needs as is required by the customer. This creates a discourse between the salesperson and prospect but doesn’t go so far as to solve specific problems that the customer may have. This style of selling normally follows the typical sales funnel stages of A.I.D.A.

Solution selling is all about selling outcomes, a solution. You will need a solid unique selling proposition and be able to demonstrate and paint a picture of what the customer’s situation will be like when their problem is solved through your solution.

4) Consultative Selling

This type of sale requires an element of trust and relationship between the salesperson and the prospect. You might think that solution selling, and consultative selling are the same, but the main difference is that in solution selling the focus is just on what the solution is. Whereas with consultative selling in addition to the solution being proposed, the salesperson will cover the features and benefits and why they should by.

The whole purpose of consultative selling is not to focus on just the product but to focus really on the relationship and how that is going to be established between the salesperson’s company and the prospect’s company. The salesperson gives their prospect a good listening and comes across an expert in their field. They advise, guide, help and nurture their prospects and clients. There’s no hard sell here like the take-away close for example! This type of selling is especially effective for solopreneurs and online coaches.

This requires a constant review of how the prospect’s business can be helped by the salesperson and turns the salesperson into a form of consultant to their business. There’s plenty of sales follow up as the salesperson is constantly in touch with their clients without bugging them. They are always on hand and ready.

Benchmark Your Sales Skills & Competencies For FREE!

Receive a 19-page personalised report on the findings

Get an analysis of how you sell along with
some recommendations on how to improve

Sales Skills Test

Sales DNA cover

5) Insight Selling

Lots of research has proved that salespeople who have this specific type of salesmanship do different things to the norm.
It’s based on a simple 3 level model that brings on successful results:

Level one is to connect, where salespeople connect the customer needs and their company solutions to the issues that the buyers have.

Level two is the convince stage, where salespeople convince their prospects they can achieve maximum returns with lower risk and that they are the most effective company to deal with if you want the results that have been promised.

Level three of insight selling is known as the collaboration stage, where salespeople bring new ideas to the table and have insights as to the future operations of the company they will be working with.

It’s important to recognise that each of these types of sales has their place. If you understand the type of sale that’s absolutely right for each buyer type, then you will be in a strong position to use the specific type in the right way at the right time to bring the right results for both you and your customer.

6) Social Selling

Many sales professionals are moving their prospecting and selling to online methods. Gone are the days where you’d bang out 100+ cold calls all day long.

With social selling it’s mainly focused on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook depending on what social media platform is right for your industry.

With this approach it’s all about profile building, networking, relationships, creating thought provoking content and then attempting to move your virtual relationships into the physical world via a meeting or a call. It requires a completely different sales mindset than traditional sales of prospecting and hammering out those cold calls.

Our Social Selling Training programmes are very popular, so we know that this type of selling is becoming the norm.

7) Challenger Selling

The Challenger Sale was created by Matthew Dixon. Its premise is that it should be the salesperson that takes control of the customer conversation being assertive and pushing back when needed. The Challenger salesperson knows best, and they don’t pander the prospect’s every need. Instead, they believe in what they are selling, and they convey this message by telling the customer why their products and services are the only solution that they should consider and the reasons behind it.

This style is all about taking control. It’s about taking control of the sales process by teaching, recommending, tailoring, and advising. As the name suggests it’s about challenging the prospect rather than just agreeing and nodding to everything they say. It even can create tension, so this approach is not for the faint of heart and isn’t for everyone.

8) High Pressure Selling

We’ve all had them. Those salespeople who knock on our door at home and then try to sell us something using high pressure tactics – they’ll try anything to get their foot in the door and when in, they are hard to remove!

I’ve had several encounters of high pressure selling over the years. The salesperson doesn’t take no for an answer and instead of working with you tries to bully you into making a decision. It makes you as a buyer feel uncomfortable and uneasy, but the salesperson seems to enjoy it because their commission and, in some instances, their whole salary depends on them making that sale with you. They ask for the sale so many times that some people just say yes to get rid of them and that’s not good!

None of your buyers like it so don’t do it. It’s unethical and will most likely lead to a sales slump.

Audit your sales skills…

If you’re interested in finding out the key skills required to make a success in sales then there’s plenty of further information at SalesDNA. You’ll uncover the different types of sales skills required.

Improve your sales skills further by taking our FREE online course made up of several online training sessions. It covers 9 powerful Sales Techniques to help you.

Learn more Selling Skills Training techniques by attending our 2-day course. It will turn you from someone who works in sales into a sales professional. There’s a big difference between the two.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training 

Sales DNA

Originally published: 26 March, 2019

Related Articles

Arrow down

Search For More

Arrow down