The Traditional Selling Cycle Vs the Modern Buying Cycle of the 21st Century

The Traditional Selling cycle is always based on the concept of actually selling a product to someone. This includes the steps of:

– Prior Investigation (if possible) from the office of the salesman.

In the Sales Interview, the action plan usually consists of:
1. “Getting close to the client”.
2. “Investigation of the client’s needs”.
3.  “Product Presentation”.
4. “Overcoming Objections”.
5. “Closing the Sale”.

 Occasionally, there is a Post-sales follow-up to see if the client is happy with their purchase and try to find out if there are other products that can be sold to them.

This system was apparently developed & designed to sell the first colour dot-matrix printer (3M Color-in-Color) invented by 3M in 1968!

The problem with this system is that is based on the salesman’s interest to sell and not on the buyer’s need to buy. It is usually based on a purely logical approach which concentrates on selling the characteristics of the product and the salesman trying to create a need for the product in the client’s mind on the basis of these characteristics. Obviously, this can create resistance on the part of the buyer.

The basic system involves five steps:
In the first stage (getting close to the client), the traditional salesman tends to go straight to the point – the sale – without investing time in constructing an authentic interpersonal relationship. On rare occasions, a salesman might spend a short time looking for common ground with the client: sports, family, etc. However, generally, the salesman is not seen by the buyer as a person but more as representative of an organization whose only interest is to transfer money from the pockets of the client to their own pockets.

In the investigation stage, too many salesmen give the customer what is often perceived by them as “The Third Degree” – asking a stream of direct, and often impertinent, questions in an attempt to discover what the client needs. While the intention of the salesman is to help the client in making a choice, Since this happens at the start of the sales process, it is often perceived badly and sets the tone for the rest of the interview.

The Product Presentation stage generally involves an explanation of the products and its characteristics from the point of view of the company and the salesman – often following a generic script written by someone in marketing and without any real regard for individual customers’ needs, wants or lacks.

The stage of Overcoming Objections is often seen as a battle of wits between the salesman and the buyer and often results in half-truths, evasions, incomplete answers or outright lying. There are certain types of clients who need to ask many, apparently silly, questions prior to making a decision and others who ask less – each type needs different treatment.

The “Closing”, for us, implies that the client has little or no involvement in the process – if the salesman knows a range of closing techniques, then any customer will buy the product! In many sales training courses, and often in real life, the intention is to close all the doors and windows so that the client can not escape and has no option but to buy the product- no escape! Imagine how this could affect the future relationship with this client!

Basically, this process has been used, and refined, by Fortune 500 companies during the last twenty years and most buyers today are so sophisticated that they can anticipate every step of the game and plan accordingly.

The Modern Buying cycle is based on the practical use of techniques based on Neuro Linguistic Programming, psychology and psychotherapy to rapidly identify, use effectively & elegantly, the buyer’s own individual buying systems:

This process is based on the following elements which are not necessarily lineal and often occur simultaneously.

– Getting the client’s attention on a subconscious level through the use of various psychotherapeutic techniques and include way of continually showing the client that you are paying attention 100%  (listening to him) to him using both verbal and non verbal techniques which are designed to reinforce the perception of rapport between client and salesman.

– Creating interest in the client for your product as the solution to a specific problem or problems not only on the basic of his needs, but also his wants and lacks. It is also imperative that the salesman shows interest in the client as a person and not only as a source of sales revenue. One of the best ways of doing this is based on identifying key elements in the clients spoken language.

– The third step in the process involves elegantly convincing the client of the benefits of your products over those of the competition. This requires the use of highly specific language skills, effective listening and a great deal of flexibility & dexterity on the part of the salesman. You can easily convince ANY client to buy ANYTHING by using a maximum of only SEVEN questionsOnce you know his buying system.

– The penultimate step in this process involves creating a desire for the product both as the solution to a current problem or problems which cover his needs, wants, and lack but also psychologically install the product, the salesman, and the company as the solution to future possible problems. One of the many techniques that can be used to create a future relationship is by leading the client into the future using the three representation systems.

– Finally, The salesman asks for the buying decision and reaches agreement on the following steps to be taken. There are NO closing techniques in this system as the salesman and the client are working together to solve the client’s problem. The salesman must, however, be alert to when the clients has made his decision to buy: there are always “Decision Signals” from the buyer!

The interpersonal / emotional aspect of the sales/buying interaction has been proven, in various studies, some of which have been done by Brownlee & Associates to be approximately 35% of the reasons for buying. Only 30% of the reasons for buying are logical – based on characteristics. The other 35% of the equation involve covering the perceived lacks of the client that can either be logical or emotional.

In addition, today’s clients, generally, are not interested in the characteristics of the products  (only 12% approx of buyers care about them) – they want solutions, but they are also interested in long-term relationships with suppliers. This must be considered in any sales situation. An effective salesman with the right tools can create a loyal client who will return to make future purchases!

One key point in this system is the use of Neuro-linguistic Programming techniques to understand the way people process the world. Not everybody thinks or interprets the world in the same way – knowing how the client processes HIS world helps the salesman to enter into it, understand it and use it to sell the product in the most appropriate manner.

The sales courses developed by Brownlee & Associates teach the skills required to ensure that any salesman – with any product – can obtain rapport with any client thereby increasing their sales figures and creating loyal clients.  The course provide practical experience in the use of:
– Applied Neuro Linguistic Programming in sales.
– Buying systems: how to identify & use them.
– Advanced Language Patterns of Influence.
– Hidden questions,
– Negative commands.
– Hypernesia vs amnesia.
– Embedded commands, etc.
– Non verbal communication in stress situations.

If you sell, do, & say, the same things as your competitors you will be often be confused with them. 

Now is the moment to show that you are very better & different from them.

Please feel free to visit our bilingual (English & Spanish) web page:

© Brownlee & Associates, Madrid, Spain, 2000 & 2102. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied, translated or reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of Brownlee & Associates.


About ianbrownlee

Ian Brownlee, the founder of Brownlee & Associates has been actively involved in the field of interpersonal & transcultural communication since 1977. He has worked in universities and companies in the following countries: Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, England, The United States of America & Spain, as a teacher, university lecturer, trainer, researcher & consultant. In addition, his experience in living in these countries, and studying the language & communication and interaction styles of each has aided him in reaching a real understanding of intercultural and transcultural differences and how to resolve them. Ian Brownlee has various masters degrees from British Universities: One in Linguistics & Teaching English Overseas from Manchester University, one in Training & Development with a specialization in the area of Communication and Adult learning awarded by the University of Sheffield. He has also gained professional qualifications in Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy from various professional organizations. During his university career he has also studied elements of Sociology, Organizational psychology, Educational psychology, Psycholinguistics and Kinesics. He is a licensed Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and Master Trainer in NLP. as well as being a trainer in Ericksonian Hypnosis. He is a member of a wide range of professional organizations involved in Training, Applied Psychology, Hypnotherapy & Ericksonian Hypnosis, Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Communication & Cross-cultural Communication. He is also recognized by the Program on Negotiation, Harvard University, as a Negotiation Skills Trainer & Mediator and has been a collaborator on various projects with the program, and as such is in great demand as a negotiation consultant for some of the largest multinationals operating worldwide. His wide experience gained in multinational organizations in positions such as Director of Training, Communications Consultant and Negotiator / Mediator has helped many people to learn and apply new methods of negotiating skills and advanced communication techniques both in their private and professional lives. He has published various articles & books related to the field of interpersonal communication and he is the author of all the courses taught by Brownlee & Associates. He has lived and worked in Spain since 1985, initially as a trainer / Special Assistant in a multinational pharmaceutical company and then as the Training Manager for a multinational company involved in Clinical Analysis & Nuclear Medicine. Brownlee & Associates was formed in 1991 and currently has a small, highly-trained staff. While based in Madrid, courses are given world-wide either in English or Spanish. Brownlee & Associates currently work with leading international companies in the areas of pharmaceuticals , Information systems, luxury products, food & beverages, etc.
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