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RECAP: THE ROLE OF KNOWLEDGE IN ADAPTING The social style matrix illustrates the importance of knowledge, organized into categories, in determining selling effec- tiveness through adaptive selling. Salespeople learn the cues for identifying various social styles, for example. Salespeo- ple also learn which adjustments they need to make in their communication styles to be effective with each customer type. SYSTEMS FOR DEVELOPING ADAPTIVE SELLING SKILLS The social style matrix developed by Merrill and Reid is one of several sales training methods based on customer clas- sification schemes. Rather than using assertiveness and responsiveness, classification schemes by other sales trainers use dimensions and quadrants like the following: Regardless of the training system used, it is imperative that salespeople adjust to their audience. Salespeople adjust for types of customers. They also adjust their style when selling to diverse cultures even within their own country. For example, Hispanic salespeople may need to alter their communication style when selling to Anglo-American customers. Training methods such as the social style matrix are simply a first step in developing knowledge for practicing adaptive selling. They emphasize the need to practice adaptive selling—to use different presentations with different cus- tomers—and stimulate salespeople to base their sales presentations on an analysis of the customer. But these methods are limited; they present only a few types of customers, and classification is based on the form of communication (the social style), not on the content of the communication (the specific features and benefits stressed in the presentation). In addition, accurately fitting customers into the suggested categories is often difficult. Customers act differently and have different needs in different sales encounters: A buyer may be amiable in a new task-buying situation and be ana- lytical when dealing with an out-supplier's salesperson in a straight rebuy. Amiable buyers in a bad mood may act like drivers. By rigidly applying the classification rules, salespeople may actually limit their flexibility, reducing the adaptive selling behavior these training methods emphasize. SELLING YOURSELF This chapter provides insight into ways that you may adapt your selling to meet different needs, social styles, or rela- tionships. Take some of these key concepts and focus on relationships you currently have with friends, family, faculty, and more. There are friends that you call once a year and it feels as if you talk every day, and there are friends you may chat with on a daily basis; each of these are unique and you find yourself adapting to each one. Challenge yourself to analyze others and understand how they communicate and what may be important to them. This will help you build your skill set as you enter into the world of sales. Speaking of entering the sales world, graduation will be approaching before you know it and that means that you will be searching for a career. The interview process tends to seem daunting to many. However, using key concepts from this chapter such as being adaptive, building knowledge, and understanding social styles will help you navigate the • Warm–hostile and dominant–submissive • Dominance and sociability • Relater, socializer, thinker, and director • Logical (yellow), emotional (blue), conceptual (orange), and analytical (green) • Skeptics, charismatics, thinkers, followers, and controllers • Hawk, owl, dove, and peacock CHAPTER 5: Adaptive Selling for Relationship Building 141

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