What is active selling?
Active selling is selling a product or service, provided that the offer to buy and the initiative comes from the seller, not the buyer. In simple terms, the seller is looking for potential buyers, offers to buy the product, and advertises it in every possible way. Direct Sales (also known as active sales) get used everywhere: in real estate, tourism, retail, when selling expensive or technically complex IT products, and vice versa - when selling budget and high-margin products to new segments of the target audience, etc. Active sales in tourism, for example, imply that the specialist applies an individual approach to each client to find the most attractive tours specifically for his needs and budget. Active sales of banking products are usually used in ordinary offices and branches; they do not apply to private clients, as selling such services through an active strategy is inefficient.
An Active sales manager's responsibilities include finding clients, keeping, and establishing trusting relationships, guiding the customer through the sales funnel, identifying the client's pain points, and much more up to the successful closing of the deal, earning an order of magnitude higher than ordinary consultants. Exact salaries and bonuses vary depending on the company and the industry within which it operates. In some cases, the salary will depend on how many clients the manager has found, counseled, and brought to the stage of closing the deal. As a rule, active selling is demand in the B2B segment when offering a product or service from business to business. So, the highest salaries get secured in this direction.
Active Sales vs Passive Sales: What's the Difference?
The technique of active sales differs from passive sales because the seller attracts the buyer's attention, who has not even thought about the possibility of purchasing from them before. In passive sales, you never seek the buyer because they come to you.
You can make active sales anywhere: in the company's office, on a bench in the park, at a networking event, in the client's office, or inside a shop. Meanwhile, passive sales get done where there is an exclusive product or an opportunity to provide a service, for example, in a store, office, beauty salon, etc.
The essence of active sales is the independent identification of customer needs by the salesperson, while in passive sales, customers talk about their pains and needs. In active sales, the consultant also tries their best to influence the process of choosing a product, can bargain, reduce the cost of the product for the customer, etc. In passive sales, the customer chooses the product themselves. You can help the customer, but it isn't a prerequisite. Sellers will never reduce the product's price for the customer and will never haggle because their system does not involve such flexibility.
The Pros and Cons of Active Selling
Active forms of selling goods have both pros and cons. The advantages undoubtedly include:
- Highly effective customer acquisition. An active sales specialist is constantly looking for new customers and uses all possible channels of communication with customers for this purpose.
- Creating a pool of loyal customers. Active sales quite easily and quickly turn into customers who wandered your shop by chance.
- Easy identification of customer needs. The marketing department doesn't have to worry about active salespeople who constantly communicate with people and can independently identify the needs of different target audience segments. You can even save money on market research!
- Increasing the professional level of salespeople. Active sales specialists rarely make mistakes and do not confuse sales techniques because they receive considerable training and practice along with their position. They are true cross-functional specialists who are even proficient in marketing tools!
- Increased sales. What else is active sales for if not to improve a company's financial performance? Really capable (or well-trained) active sales managers can increase business profits many times over.
Active selling, however, also has disadvantages.
- The need for quality training. You provide high-quality training managers because few real professionals can persuade clients to purchase.
- High consumption of internal and external resources. Businesses attract many potential customers, but not everyone becomes a buyer. As a business owner, you must be prepared that managers will not bring you ten thousand customers in the first weeks of work. If you are a manager, prepare to work hard, long, and sometimes as if to no avail.
- Dependence of salary on the number of clients brought in. Some business owners prefer to pay their sales managers for every customer that makes a purchase. Employee motivation quickly declines because of the small salaries at the beginning of their careers.
Types of Active Sales
What are the different types of active selling? There are many divisions. For example, you can divide sales into product categories. In this case, there are goods of daily demand of the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) segment, expensive, high-tech, and often incomprehensible to ordinary customers, exclusive goods, intangible services, and components for producing goods.
Also, you divide active sales into customer types: B2B, B2C, and C2C. B2B is the sale of goods or services from business to business. Usually, factories, manufacturers, marketing, and PR agencies work with this market. B2C is the sale of goods or services by a business to the end consumer, an individual, or a simple customer. There are many online shops, retailers, aggregators, and retail outlets. C2C is the sale of goods or services from a physical customer to a physical customer. For example, a customer could buy a product, realize it doesn't suit them, and resell it to another person. All sites for reselling goods are C2C sites. By the way, active selling can also work on them.
You can divide Active Sales by the method of communication. There is, for example, telemarketing, i.e., telephone sales, when you quickly process the customer base, get honest feedback, and see the problems of your audience and its pains in front of you. If negativity comes your way, there will be even more rejections than you expected, and that's normal. Launching active sales over the phone requires a lot of financial investment and technology: usually, "cold" calls (calls to people who are not interested in your product) are used robots with an already recorded script.
There are still active sales of services and goods via the Internet. Nowadays, chatbots with classical answers to questions and the possibility to call an operator (i.e., a "real person") are used most on websites; these chatbots can independently send messages to users while they are on your website. And, of course, you can send social media messages and emails. But be mindful of privacy: some users prohibit messages from being sent to them unless they've been consented to before. There are also offline tools, such as classic promos. You can approach people offline and offer your product in offices and shops, at presentations and conferences. Previously, this kind of offline sale would be physically knocking on people's doors and visiting them in the flesh. Now this kind of active sales technology is not particularly relevant. Sales representatives must call or write to users in messengers - not every person answers calls from unknown numbers. Therefore, promotional events, presentations (including in BTL format), and conferences are becoming increasingly popular.
Stages of Active Sales
Any active sales training is based on mastering five classic stages of sales: finding a client, identifying client needs, dealing with objections, closing the deal, and supporting the client after the sale.
Finding the Customer
Before offering a product or service, finding someone interested in this product is necessary. This person is also called a decision-maker. Please do not confuse it with a consumer! There can be different people involved. To find a client, you need to study information about, for example, the company they represent, its problems, and find an informational reason for a call or message. For example, you can find a company problem, figure out how your product will solve it, and then write about it to the decision-maker. Even at this stage, you can offer a discount, a free subscription, or a product sample.
Identifying a Need
It is in-depth work with the pains of the potential customer. Your job is to identify the person's or their company's needs and see how your product can close them. You can do this with a cursory search for information or a series of direct questions. What problems do employees face? What has the customer been dissatisfied with when working with your competitors (if any)? What criteria do they use to select a product, and what are their priorities? How do they even find a solution to a problem that your product could solve?
Presentation of the Product
The presentation of the product is the very moment you can become an active sales superstar! Close the needs: tell how your product helps to solve this or that problem, emphasize the characteristics most important to a particular user, and don't be afraid to change the dialogue scenarios. You should include the following points in your presentation.
The Characteristics of the Product that Your Customer Will Appreciate.
- The benefits of the product.
- The benefits the customer will receive.
- Warranties and testimonials.
- Evidence of the company's expertise and reasons why you are trustworthy.
- Cost justification.
- Answers to objections.
Don't criticize competitors' products in your sales proposal! Emphasize your product or service and its uniqueness.
If you fail to work through the objections that could arise from the buyer, you will have to close them after the product presentation. Create answers to the questions in advance. Do not argue with the client - it will be easier to agree. Agree with potential buyers' objections and point out your product's advantages. This way, customers will think you are on their side and understand them wholeheartedly. That's what you need!
Formalizing the Transaction
The sale itself is probably the easiest part of the whole process. Prepare the paperwork, ensure the client has transferred the funds, and give them a cheque. The quicker you prepare the contract package, the more likely you will close the deal without problems. Sometimes it is possible to reduce the price, if your company allows it, due to the individual situation of the client or their company. Usually, such a trick only works for expensive goods that are difficult to sell. And if the customer quickly agrees to buy, you can sell him additional or related products, thereby increasing the cheque.
Handling the Transaction After the Sale
If you sell expensive goods like cars or flats, you may need to accompany the client after paying for your services and the goods themselves. Explain, tell, help, answer questions, and solve minor problems - all this lies in the active sales manager. Incidentally, you can also pay for this service generously; many courses for active sellers are silent about it.
Techniques and Methods of Active Selling
There are several active selling techniques. The most popular ones are listed below.
- AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action). AIDA aims to persuade the customer and entice them into the sales funnel. The technique consists of four components. They are "Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action." First, you attract the audience's attention (for example, by using discounts and promotions), generate customer interest in the product, and explain what you are offering to buy. After that, you make customers want to buy your product, tell them about the offer's benefits, and encourage them to buy.
- SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-payoff) Spin is a method based on the right questions. They can be situational (help to understand what situation the customer is in now), problematic (allow you to identify problems and needs), engaging (show the customer what will happen if he does not solve the problem), and giving (suggest the solution, which is to buy the product).
- SNAP (Scaled Network Agile Portfolio) - is an agile selling technique. It is based on four principles: simplicity (you need to simplify the presentation of information), value (you need to tell about the advantages and characteristics of the product), compliance (you need to make sure that the product and the story about it fall into the needs of the client and solve their problems) and priorities (you need to emphasize that the product solves the client's problems, challenges, and it closes their needs).
The Principles and Rules of Active Selling
What are the Rules of Active Selling?
- Talk less and listen more. It will allow you to ask relevant and correct questions, and the client will think they have reached the idea that they need your service or product.
- Prioritise a personal approach. Individualizing your approach to each client increases your chances of getting them to contact you and selling them your product.
- Don't drag things out. It's essential to give a dynamic presentation, sign documents quickly, and answer questions promptly.
- Use social proof. Testimonials and honest stories about your product experience are always important. Some customers can only be convinced that your product is what they need if they know celebrities also use it.
- Don't argue with the customer. You have to agree with the potential customer. You cannot allow a situation where the person gets the impression that you think they are wrong. Remember, agreeing always work better than arguing.
- Make sure you understand the client. Someone cares about numbers and technical parameters, while someone else cares about the design and appearance of the model. If you list the power stats of a gaming laptop to a person looking for a computer solely for working in Word, they are unlikely to be interested.
- Study your target audience. Knowing your client well is essential, deviating from traditional scripts and catching him in time. However, don't avoid being pushy; even the salespeople don't like such salespeople. If a representative of your target audience does not want to communicate with you (and your goal is to test hypotheses about the audience, not to sell them something) - do not insist they answer your questions. Focus on solving the customer's problem, not on the fact that you are studying representatives of different customer audiences.
Learning by topic
Active Sales. Viable Client Interaction Techniques
Basics of classic and active sales, skill in smart product presentation, removing any client objections
Learn active sales, don't be afraid to train and test your ability to offer products to customers. Be careful: focus on the product, not the company that makes it. Avoid yes/no questions when trying to gain a customer's attention; research your products, and don't show negativity after the deal is closed.