Selling: Which P do you want to sell to?

BUSINESS | By Cheryl Kane

July 16. Successful sales professionals find their strength and nurture it over time, adjusting and adapting to their changing environment.

And, wow, what a changed environment we experienced in the last year and a half.  If you were dislodged from your high competency confidence due to the pandemic’s toll on your book of sales, how can you once again lift your anchor and set sail toward fresh success?

Perhaps by re-assessing how you frame your sales approach.

Do you sell to the person’s need, do you prioritize the product’s attributes, or do you focus on the valuable purpose the product or service offers?

Try the 3 P approach:

Sell to the Person

Observation, keen listening skills, and knowing which open-ended questions to ask a potential customer will help you glean critical information from a person that can identify how to navigate a meaningful conversation directly to the heart of the matter: a solution to their problem or goal.

Example: I was shopping for a new car for myself, but was dismayed by several professional sales people. Despite explaining in an introductory conversation I wanted a vehicle that met five criteria, none of which was color—I said to each sales person, “Color is irrelevant in my decision-making process.”  I asked we only look at vehicles that met all five criteria. The first sales person insisted I name a color before moving the conversation forward. One spoke to my husband vs. me about the auto. One pretended to forget several of the criteria and only show me autos larger, fancier and more hip than I had described. Finally, when a sales person took me at my word, thoughtfully located a few selections that met all five of my criteria, I was ready to trust them to guide me from there and make the purchase—easily, pleasantly, and smoothly. They made the purchase easy for me.

Sell the Product attributes

Frequently a customer only sees your product or service as having one or two readily recognizable attributes; and those are often the easiest to discern. They have a need, it meets it—so they don’t think beyond that. But if you can expand the customer’s comprehension of the variety of attributes the product has, you can help them clarify additional needs it can help them meet, thus making it more valuable to them.

Example: In the previous story, when my initial needs were met I was then willing to listen to the salesperson expand my knowledge of certain vehicles or features I wasn’t aware of which could meet additional needs I had but hadn’t thought of a vehicle being able to support. I was willing to pay more in order to have them.

Increase the Purpose

When a product is priced based on the value of a specific or primary purpose, often it has added value not touted in the foundational sales pitch or promotional material. If a sales professional can effectively point out additional ways the product or service offers adds value—or reduces expense—they have enhanced the demand for it.

Example: A few years ago when seeking to purchase an electric riding mower I was surprised to find nearly none. And when I found one I was initially surprised at its price.  But in my research with a highly knowledgeable sales professional I learned about the expansive scope of purposes this equipment had, and its strong reputation for not needing persnickety maintenance. It made it an easy sale for me.


As you start selling in a less-restricted environment, mind your Ps: Person, Product, Purpose!

Cheryl Kane, MBA, PHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, is a strategic business consultant, sales trainer, & professional speaker specializing in problem solving and service quality. Cheryl welcomes your communication at email: [email protected]


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