Situational Selling Skills Are What Modern Sellers Need

situational sales skills

Sellers who practice situational selling skills have the best chance of winning over today’s buyers. Reps face increasingly knowledgeable buyers who know more than ever and have high expectations of service. "[Buyers] are more empowered in their purchasing evaluations and decisions," according to the professionals at Richardson Sales Performance. "They wish to interact only with sellers who understand their business, their situations, their challenges, and their opportunities. Buyers no longer have time for generalists – they want to work with expert specialists who can bring new insight and value, and who can help them solve their problems and create new value." And the results of the SalesFuel's Voice of the Buyer study support this: Approximately half say a top attribute of a seller is knowing their company/​line of business.

Situational selling skills are a must-​have for modern reps

Not every salesperson is aware of how to engage in situational selling. But, this ability to adapt sales strategy to specific situations and buyers can be learned. And it should be a top priority for anyone who wants to keep up with buyer preferences.

Richardson Sales Performance shares five vital components of situational selling, or, as they call it, "sales fluency." These components contribute to a seller's professional fluency in any selling situation. By integrating these components in your own strategy, you improve your ability to more efficiently meet a diverse range of buyers and their unique expectations.

Five components to boost situational selling skills

Situational knowledge: This component involves an awareness of a buyer's circumstances, as well as the ability to see the outcome for the buyer if their circumstances persist. For this kind of knowledge, sellers must rely on their own professional experiences, as well as research they've done about a buyer's business, industry trends, typical opportunities and challenges, and other relevant topics.

Capability knowledge: Sellers must have thorough knowledge and understanding of what they're selling and how it aligns with each and every buyer's specific situation. Buyers want to work with someone who knows their own product or service. SalesFuel's own research revealed that, specifically, 57% want to work with a seller who “knows their products and how to use them to solve my business problem or achieve my goal.”

People skills: Even though buyers are more advanced today, they still enjoy interacting with sellers they like to be around. As Richard Sale Performance notes, “people buy from people, and they are much more likely to buy from people whom they like. Therefore, sellers must possess good interpersonal skills, so that they can appeal to buyers’ emotions, as well as their intellect.”

Selling skills: Situational selling requires, well, sales skills. So this basic component, like people skills, continues to be relevant and necessary. Make sure that you continue to evolve those basic sales skills, such as identifying needs, diagnosing problems and demonstrating value.

Collaborative attitude: Modern sellers should continue to embrace a collaborative sales approach. “The ability to work with buyers to create or enhance solutions in a spirit of openness and transparency, and to demonstrate that they are acting with the buyer’s interests in mind first,” they write.

Put these skills into action according to each situation

Once you understand the necessary components, put those situational sales skills into action. Take time to observe and understand each buyer and their unique situation. Then, determine which solution would be the best fit and what approach aligns with the buyer. By understanding the situation, you can demonstrate your knowledge, and subsequently your value, to the buyer. By using situational selling, you position yourself to connect with buyers on a deeper level and meet their expectations of a seller.

Photo by Jason Goodman

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision-​makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.