An Overview of Different Types of Selling

BY:  Rebecca Herson
September 5, 2023
Updated on September 11, 2023

Table of Contents

Sales professionals know that different types of products/services, companies with different values, and different types of customers require different types of selling strategies. It’s important to understand what distinguishes each type of selling to identify the one that best matches your organization’s needs so you can develop an effective sales plan. 

That’s why we’ve prepared this overview of the five main types of selling. 

5 Main Types of Selling

Transactional selling

Transactional sales usually involves short sales cycles and revolves around specific products or services. Transactional sales can include products as varied as insurance, real estate, fashion retail, and internet and phone packages, but they are usually B2C (business to consumer) products. In transactional selling, the sales rep expects to close the sale pretty quickly, within just a few conversations and ideally in a single call. 

As a result, unlike other types of selling types like solution selling or consultative selling, transactional sales reps don’t need to carry out much fact-finding. The main focus is on immediate sales and short-term gains, so sales reps need to be skilled in presenting the product in an appealing way and explaining its features and benefits clearly. 

Consultative selling 

In contrast to transactional selling, consultative sales rely heavily on engendering trust with the customer by understanding their needs, and only then suggesting tailored solutions. Consultative selling is suitable for high-ticket products that generate long-term revenue, which is why relationship building is so important.

In these kinds of sales, sales reps act as consultants (hence the name) who give the customer reliable advice about their purchase options. Effective consultative sales reps have strong communications and listening skills, and know how to align solutions with the prospect’s needs without sounding pushy.  

Relationship selling

Relationship selling overlaps with both solution selling and consultative selling, because it also focuses on strong, long-term customer connections. It’s different from transactional selling, where there’s less concern for delivering ongoing support. 

In relationship sales, customer satisfaction is key, so you need sales reps with excellent listening skills who are good at understanding customer needs and building trust. This type of sales is ideal for industries that rely on loyalty and repeat business, such as high-end retail, B2B (business to business) services, and complex solutions requiring ongoing support. 

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Solution Selling

Solution selling has a lot in common with consultative selling, but the sales rep doesn’t serve as an expert advisor to quite the same extent. Solution sales are customer-centric, meaning that the sales rep needs to deeply understand the prospect’s needs and suggest personalized solutions. 

Solution sales products are typically B2B products with longer sales cycles than transactional sales products, and the sales process focuses more on the customer’s pain points than the product’s features. The sales rep paints a picture of the impact that the solution will have and the improved experience that the customer will enjoy. 

Provocative selling

Provocative selling, also known as the Challenger Sale, is characterized by assertive conversations. With provocative sales, sales reps lead discussions, challenge prospects, and push back against objections. The idea is to highlight flaws in the customer’s current decision, and present their product as essential. 

Provocative sales are a good choice for organizations that aim to drive change and guide transformation with their products and solutions, and require sales reps who know how to take control, educate, and potentially create tension to drive sales. 

How to select the best selling approach for business?

Choosing the best sales approach for your business can’t be done in a hurry. You need to fully understand your product, your target audience, and the market landscape, as well as the pros and cons of the different types of selling strategies. 

You might want to test out more than one selling method, so it’s important to track your results and adjust your methods to align with your business goals. Finally, reassess your choice from time to time in light of changing market dynamics, because the most appropriate selling strategy could change over time. 

Second Nature solution for sales training

Whichever type of selling you choose, Second Nature’s AI-powered sales training solution can help you reach your sales goals. Our AI sales trainers are always available to serve as knowledgeable role play partners and deliver timely feedback that guides sales reps to master all the details of your product or service and grow their selling skills. 

Whether you need to train sales reps to close sales quickly, build a trust relationship, listen carefully to customer pain points, challenge objections, or all the above, Second Nature can support your sales strategy and ensure that every sales rep is confident and competent for the next sales conversation. 

Drive sales with the right types of selling

It can be difficult for companies to settle on the best sales strategy. Understanding the different selling types is the first step to identifying the approach that’s best suited to your company’s needs and values. Once you know which sales strategy to implement, Second Nature is ready to prepare your salesforce with AI training to successfully carry it out and drive revenue and profits. 

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About the author

Rebecca Herson

Rebecca is head of marketing at Second Nature.

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