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The Difference Between Selling and Order-Taking

One of the main jobs of sales management is to help their salespeople see where they are in the sales opportunity. Are they early? Do they know what they need to know? Do they have an excellent strategy to close?

I like to think that a salesperson is a juggler, tossing x-number of opportunities in the air and the sales manager's job is to assist the salesperson on judging what opportunities to keep and which ones to toss away, and to providing ideas on how to work the selected ones. During a few recent client/consulting meetings, I realized that this remains an extremely important aspect of any salesperson's life -- as well as any sales manager's or president of any firm. Exceeding monthly sales objectives are the goals of the sales organization, especially the sales manager. What to do?

First, if you have not subscribed to the "Sales Manager's Tool Kit" at, you can get a free copy of the Sales Strategy Guide by sending me an e-mail at [email protected]. The Tool Kit contains 40 tools/guides for any sales manager. The Sales Strategy Guide is meant to be used by each salesperson and the sales manager to discuss and strategize on individual sales opportunities and uncover what you know, what you don't know and develop tactical steps to move the account to conclusion.

Second, the salesperson must know what the impact of your product or services will have on the prospect's business. The salesperson must fully understand this question and its answer. You will use it during critical aspects of closing the opportunity. You close for the prospect's benefit -- not the salesperson's.

Third, depending on the products/services that you offer and vendor relationships, knowing when the prospect wants to be fully utilizing your offering is critical. It is not about when a decision will be made -- it's about understanding timing and any issues surrounding that timeframe.

Fourth, knowing early on during the sales process the reason the client will make the decision, the impact of your solution on their company and timing, allows the salesperson to begin to set the hook early. Now, I am not suggesting unethical sales tactics -- but just make sure early in any sales cycle that you fully understand the prospect's key issues allows you control the sales process.

The key element to remember is individuals are always challenged to make a decision. Your job as a trusted advisor is to assist the individual in making the right decision that will impact their business and to help them make it on your timeline. This is selling versus order-taking.  

Being mentally creative and tough and moving your role from simply presenting products/services to providing business guidance moves the role to the next level. It is the job of sales management to assist the salesperson to move forward professionally.

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 03, 2013


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