After putting in several years as a manager in a sales organization, I have found that the key to training up a quality sales person is developing their understanding of what I would call the essence of selling. The misunderstandings that exist regarding selling and the sales process are many and profound. Sometimes these misunderstandings are right there in the hearts and minds of the trainers who are teaching your staff to sell.

At its heart, selling is an interpersonal experience that is focused on an exchange of value. Too often the focus of sales training is on one or the other, relationship or value exchange, when both are required. This mistaken approach comes from a failure to see that both parties are part buyer and part seller. Both sides pitch their perspective on the value of their side of the potential transaction. A successful sale happens when an agreement is reached about the perceived value of each side of the exchange.

Each side of the value equation (buyer and seller) sees the potential exchange differently. For example, a car sales person sees a particular tipping point between the value of their merchandise and the value of the proposed dollar amount being offered by the prospect.  The person considering the purchase of the car sees a different tipping point.  The tipping point for each side is where the perceived value exchange favors their position. In other words, there will be no deal until both sides see their value proposition being satisfied.

If a sales person listens for the potential buyer’s value proposition, and then frames the value exchange around that information, they will be well on the way to closing the deal. For example, if a prospect wants a sporty vehicle that has room for their family and luggage, the sales person will not be successful in trying to sell them a standard cab pick-up at a low price. The perception of value for the prospect is not just about price in this case. On the other hand, if the sales person tries to sell a more expensive sport sedan with a large trunk, they will be more successful.

Selling is about listening to the other person and applying what you hear to the value proposition. An educated buyer will do the same thing. The best listener will nearly always win.