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Adaptive selling is featured in this textbook because this approach forces the salesperson to practice the marketing con- cept. It emphasizes the importance of satisfying customer needs. And being adaptable increases buyer trust and com- mitment and results in higher sales performance. The communication principles described in Chapter 4 are required to practice adaptive selling successfully. For example, a Kohler sales representative may believe that a portable generator manufacturer is interested in buying an economical, low-horsepower gasoline motor. While presenting the benefits of a low-cost motor, the sales rep discovers, by observing nonverbal behaviors, that the customer is interested in discussing overall operating costs. At this point the rep asks some questions to find out whether the customer would pay a higher price for a more efficient motor with lower operating costs. Based on the customer's response, the rep may adopt a new sales strategy: presenting a more efficient motor and demonstrating its low operating costs. It is sometimes hard for people to realize that the world is not made up of people just like them. 2 Many people are much older than you, while some are younger than you. They practice different religions, enjoy different foods, and shop at stores where you would never think of shopping. They have different moral beliefs and different ideas about "the perfect product" and were raised in a totally different way. Their hopes and aspirations don't match yours. Many of them would be shocked to hear what your life's dreams and goals are. We are not just talking about differences in people in other countries. We are talking about people who live next door to you, who are sitting next to you in your classroom. Gen Z are different from millennials, and both are different from baby boomers. One salesperson reported that grocery stores that cater to migrant farmers in the San Francisco area want a different product mix (such as more demand for Hormel SPAM) than a grocery store in midtown San Francisco (more demand for upscale, specialty Hormel meat products like Cure 81 ham). The sooner you realize that your world is made up of diverse people, the sooner you will realize the importance of becoming adaptive. Selecting the appropri- ate sales strategy for a sales situation and making adjustments during the interaction are crucial to successful selling. Salespeople should also adapt to the customer's desire for a specific type of relationship. For example, if a customer is not interested in developing a strong, long-term relationship and is more interested in maintaining a less involved relationship, the salesperson should adapt to this desire. Practicing adaptive selling does not mean salespeople should be dishonest about their products or their personal feel- ings. 3 It does mean salespeople should alter the content and form of their sales presentation so customers will be able to absorb the information easily and find it relevant to their situation. thinking it through Do you act and talk differently to your professor than when you talk to your friends? Why do you adapt in that way? The advantages and disadvantages of the three types of sales presentations illustrate the benefits and drawbacks of adap- tive selling. Adaptive selling gives salespeople the opportunity to use the most effective sales presentation for each cus- tomer. 4 However, uncovering needs, designing and delivering different presentations, and making adjustments require a high level of skill. For example, the positive impact of adapting is highest when both political skill and intrinsic moti- vation are high. 5 The objective of this textbook is to help you develop the skills and knowledge required to practice adaptive selling. ADAPTIVE SELLING: THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWLEDGE A key ingredient to be adaptive is knowledge. Salespeople need to know about the products they are selling, the company they work for, and the customers they will be selling to. Knowledge enables the salesperson to build self-confidence, gain the buyer's trust, satisfy customer needs, practice adaptive selling, and have greater performance. CHAPTER 5: Adaptive Selling for Relationship Building 129

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