Transactional Vs. Strategic Sales
The sales strategy your business employs will depend on the product or service you provide and the type of relationship -- if any -- you want to maintain with your customers. A transactional sales approach focuses more on the sales outcome, while a strategic sales approach leans more toward understanding the customer's needs and building a relationship that goes beyond the initial sale.
Transactional sales can usually be closed within a matter of minutes, hours or months. The sales agent engages the prospect, gives a pitch and processes the sale if the prospect is interested. Sales agents using this approach are normally more focused on the sales outcome than on the prospect's needs.
Strategic sales focus on how your company's product or service can be a solution for your prospect. For this approach, a sales agent takes the time to understand what the prospect needs before she'll commit to a purchase and whether or not he can deliver on these commitments. The sales cycle -- the period that spans the initial interaction to the closing of the sale -- is usually longer as a result and the relationship normally continues after the sale.
If your company just wants to sell a product and then bid that customer goodbye, a transactional sales approach may be a good fit. To keep your customer coming back for more, a strategic approach is often more effective. With the strategic approach, your business cares about what happens beyond the sale. The goal is to inspire loyalty so your customer won't want to work with anyone else and to prevent you from exerting all your energies on finding new customers.
A business that runs on a transactional sales model is much more concerned about price than value. This type of business is more likely to undercut competitors' costs, discount prices or use special deals and offers to get prospects to commit to a purchase. A business that runs on a strategic sales model is more concerned with creating value. Discounting products and services is avoided rather than encouraged, and the goal is always to educate prospects about why paying more is worth it. A company that adopts a strategic selling approach focuses on the intangibles, such as creating peace of mind, partnerships, reliability or comfort.
Whether you're a startup or a business that's been around for several years, you can change from a transactional selling model to a strategic one or vice versa. Both models require a clear strategy and investment, but the transactional approach will get you sales much faster. Strategic sales may yield bigger sales results, but the process takes longer. You will need sales professionals who are great at building relationships, uncovering needs and emphasizing value over price. You might have to pay these professionals more than you would transactional agents and wait through longer sales cycles for the payoff.