One-to-One Selling

By Jim Allen, President, Value Based, Inc.

How often have you walked out of a sales call, having presented a polished and professional proposal to your prospect, saying . . . “That’s our business to lose. We provide the best solution and value of all the vendors they’re considering.” However, unbeknown to you the business is already lost . . . it’s gone. Yes, on paper, you should have won the deal but in the area of relationship selling, you lost it.

You’ve probably heard of One-to-One Marketing pioneered by Peppers & Rodgers. Well now there’s One-to-One Selling. In One-to-One Selling you use a unique selling approach that is tailored for each of your prospects. It’s an approach that’s based upon how each prospect prefers to purchase and how each perceives the value of your software and service.

In a soft economy, selling value is mandatory. One-to-One Selling incorporates methods of identifying what is of value to your prospect and then provides a process to match, communicate and deliver your value proposition to your prospect. Selling this way increases competitive wins and margins. In this article we will look at one of four aspects of One-to-One Selling . . . the use of a buying and selling styles methodology as a way for you to sell the way your prospect wants to buy.

The adage that “people buy from people” is as true today as it was decades ago. Yes, your software and service must offer value and meet or exceed your customer’s needs, but you can’t forget the relationship. Research shows that 80% of customers base their purchase decisions on trust and confidence in their salesperson rather than a specific software/service feature or functionality.

Ask yourself some tough questions, “Does my prospect trust me?” “Do they have confidence in me?” “How is the chemistry between us?”

For example, are you asking qualification questions that elicit the most complete information from your prospect? Should I send this prospect an evaluation copy of the software with or without a walk-thru? Should I schedule a 30-minute online overview demo? Or should I jump on a plane (assuming your price point and margin justifies travel) and present the product face-to-face? And when I am ready to close the order, which of the many closes is most appropriate to use?

In short, “How do I sell the way my prospect wants to buy?”

Selling the way your prospect wants to buy requires that you know enough about them that you can select 12 personality characteristics from a list of 48. Generally a 15 to 20 minute phone call, or face-to-face visit, will provide you enough information to complete a 5-minute assessment of him/her. Let’s try one by completing the following 4-step process:

Step 1: Think of a prospect that that you have recently met by phone or face-to-face, and know something about. Now complete the assessment below by selecting 12 personality characteristics that best describe him/her. Select one characteristic from each group of four.

Kind, Nice, Caring (S)
Proper, Formal (C)
Demanding, Assertive (D)
Outgoing, Active (I)
Considerate, Thoughtful (S)
Forceful, Strong-willed (D)
Hyper, Energetic (I)
Perfectionist, Precise (C)
Playful, Fun-loving (I)
Firm, Strong (D)
Law-abiding, Conscientious (C)
Gentle, Soft, Humble (S)
Contented, Satisfied (S)
Compliant, Goes by the Book (C)
Brave, Adventurous (D)
Enthusiastic, Influencing (I)
Bold, Daring (D)
Delightful, Pleasant (I)
Loyal, True Blue (S)
Calculating, Analytical (C)
Smooth talker, Articulate (I)
Loving, Sincere, Honest (S)
Persistent, Restless, Relentless (D)
Right, Correct (C)
Steady, Dependable (S)
Talkative, Verbal (I)
Challenging, Motivating (D)
Accurate, Exact (C)
Stable, Balanced (S)
Confident, Self-reliant (D)
Perspective, Sees Clearly (C)
Animated, Expressive (I)
Controlling, Taking Charge (D)
Merciful, Sensitive (S)
Pondering, Wondering (C)
Persuading (I)
Positive, Optimistic (D)
Entertaining, Clowning (I)
Shy, Mild (S)
Competent, Does Right (C)
Timid, Soft Spoken (S)
Systematic, Follows Plan (C)
Industrious, Hard Working (D)
Smiling, Happy (I)
Inquisitive, Questioning (C)
Tolerant, Patient (S)
Driving, Determined (D)
Dynamic, Impressing (I)

Step 2: Now that you’ve made your selections go back and add all the letters (D’s, I’s, S’s, C’s located in the parenthesis next to each personality description) and record them below:

D’s totalC’s total I’s totalS’s total

Step 3: Determine your prospects primary and secondary “buying style” by comparing the totals above. The highest number represents their primary buying style and the next highest represents their secondary style.

Primary Buying Style (Select One):     D I S C

Secondary Buying Style (Select One): D I S C

Step 4: Once you’ve determined your prospect’s Primary and Secondary Buying Style refer to the table below to discover the most effective sales strategy to use during each stage of the Software Sales Cycle.

Sales Cycle Stages
Buying Style Prospect
(First Contact)
Qualification Presentation Proposal Close
D Make brief intro, direct and concise statement of the ROI results your software/service provides. Ask a few prioritized and relevant closed ended probing questions. Conduct well, organized, prioritized demos. Prospect may guard interest & enthusiasm. Offer a choice between few options. Anticipate price objection. Emphasize financial value. Be bold and direct and use the Option Close to gain customer order. Anticipate strong negotiating behavior.
I Make enthusiastic reference to a respected, high profile, influential customer that you recently sold from their industry. Allow your prospect the opportunity to describe what a working solution looks like in their mind and in their words. Incorporate visual aids in your demo. Increase your enthusiasm and energy level. Incorporate humor if possible. Emphasize “big picture” value statements that impact your prospect’s image. Illustrate how he/she will be recognized when implementation is successful. Anticipate a friendly, but feisty, challenge to your closing statements that’s intended to gain a concession. Avoid defensiveness if your value proposition is challenged.
S Use friendly, cordial communication of the positive impact your software has on employee job satisfaction, morale, and corporate culture. Ask open-ended questions that probe your prospect’s true ability to afford and justify your software/service Present solutions to “known” prospect issues. Emphasize capabilities that require little change in status quo. Emphasize your software’s value for work groups/teams. Show how your software enhances their relationships with co-workers. Use the Comfort or Evaluation Close. Resist putting excess pressure on your prospect. Point out smooth implementation plan and schedule.
C Make calm and precise statements of the efficiencies that your software brings to the processes and procedures within the organization. Use a low-key approach to probe into what it is currently costing them to do what your software and service can provide. Be prepared to “drill down” into the details of your software. Allow plenty of time for questions. Stick to conservative value statements. Provide graphs, spreadsheets, and tables of data that support your value statements. Be conservative in claims. Be prepared to answer more questions and objections. Have detailed data available to prove your software/services capabilities and claims.

To obtain a more detailed 7-page profile on how to sell the prospect you just assessed, click or call 1-800-597-1873.

The One-to-One Selling Model is one of several aspects of Value Based Selling – A Software Sales Methodology developed by Jim Allen, President of Value Based, Inc. Jim has 25 plus years in the software/services industry. He has owned his own software company and served as the VP of Sales of several multi-million dollar, international software companies. Over 3,500 software sales professionals have attended his seminars from throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Jim’s clients include small start-ups to companies like IBM and 3M Corporation.

He is the author/developer of Value Based Selling, Value(s) Based Leadership, and Personalize! – Buying & Selling Styles Profiling. He has also published several articles on sales processes featured in Software Developer & Publisher Magazine.