What is Adaptive Selling?

Adaptive selling is a custom or tailored approach to selling, which takes into account the type of customer, the sales situation and the feedback received. Identifying an individual’s social style is an important feature of adaptive selling.

Key Takeaways

  • Adaptive selling is adapting of sales processes and terms to the needs and problems of a customer.
  • Because adaptive selling requires rapid customization of sales approach to different customers, tech and e-commerce companies have incorporated big data and computer algorithms into sales processes.

Understanding Adaptive Selling

In adaptive selling, salespeople literally adapt to the needs and problems of the customer. It is a client-centric approach to doing business that focuses on creating a positive experience for the customer, and keeping them happy and satisfied. By establishing relationships with customers and adapting their communications, businesses can provide better customer service and hopefully generate more leads.

How Adaptive Selling is Used

Adaptive selling can be a key differentiator for all kinds of businesses, which is why it has been used since time immemorial whenever the personal touch is essential to build rapport with customers, from upscale retail stores to car dealerships.

Because adaptive selling requires a more consultative approach to sales and customer service, it requires expensively trained salespeople, who know the product they are selling inside out, and can use their judgment to adjust their sales approach based on their customer’s needs and state of mind.

To be able to respond more quickly to buyers, some companies have turned selling from an art into a science and standardizing sales practices learned from the best salespeople. They are harnessing the data they get from tracking their customers and sales representatives more closely, and training complex sales teams to provide flexible customer service.

Adaptive selling is being used very effectively today in e-commerce and tech industries, where online retailers and other businesses are able to use big data and computer algorithms to more precisely target their marketing, according to their customers’ past purchases, tastes and demographics.

Example of Adaptive Selling

An example of adaptive selling could be customizing rates based on order counts. Most manufacturers tend to offer standardized rates for a minimum order count. However, not all customers have the same requirements

For example, a large hospital may have a different set of requirements for medical devices as compared to a smaller one. In this case, salespersons from the medical device manufacturer will customize their rates based on customer.

Another example of adaptive selling is the use of data in selling directly to consumers on the Internet. Data from cookies track user clicks and site visits, allowing companies a window into consumer preferences and interests.

For example, if a user repeatedly visits an e-commerce site and clicks on the same product category, such as outdoor equipment, then the company can customize their homepage and offer similar products during the user's next visit to the site. E-commerce behemoth Amazon often uses this tactic to drive sales on its site.