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What is professional selling?

Professional Selling has been defined as:
  1. "The holistic business system required to effectively develop, manage, enable, and execute a mutually beneficial, interpersonal exchange of goods and/or services for equitable value." (ASTD)
  2. "The interpersonal communication process in which a seller uncovers and satisfies the needs and wants of a prospect to the mutual, long-term benefit of both parties." (Jones, Stevens, & Chonko 2003)
Are you working from a different definition of professional selling? If so, how do you define professional selling?

For links to related discussions visit: The Future of Selling - by Community Mailbox
The first definition I feel is most accurate. It was very insightful to include the "holistic" concept within the system. This is usually overlooked. The "holistic" approach places equal value on the facts perceived by the prospect as well as the sales rep to generate a single cohesive conversation.

I also like, interpersonal exchange...for equitable value. Selling is an experience by all parties that draws into play the human condition demanding holistic practices from the sales rep.

2 The second definition is problematic at the outset. Neither Sellers or buyers uncover anything other than what they want.

Buyers often follow the logical path of the sales rep so as not to appear illogical. Yet, after it is agreed the most logical path has been uncovered, the prospect says something like, "Oh, I'll sleep on on it." What happened?

That means the path did not resonate with the prospect but was rather the thinking process of the sales rep being imposed on the prospect. This is why the prospect's "needs," "wants," and "desires" can become convoluted and often missed entirely.

Finally, with the Holistic approach it becomes apparent that no one is buying the "thing" but what the thing means to the prospect. - by John Voris
The first definition was offered from the American Society of Training and development (ASTD) which also stipulates the tenets below.
The following three tenets are required for professional selling:
  • The focus of the sales profession centers on the human agents involved in the exchange between buyer and seller
  • Effective selling requires a systems approach, at minimum involving roles that sell, enable selling, and develop sales capabilities
  • A specific set of sales skills and knowledge are required to facilitate the exchange of value between buyers and sellers
Dr. Brian Lambert, a senior analyst for Forrester Research, has said...
it (the ASTD definition) allows for more consistent results in performance through the clear establishment of roles regarding who is "in" and who is "out" of professional selling. For example, if it doesn't involve a human agent, it is not within the sales profession -- it's a marketing function with a transaction (i.e., a "sale").
- by Community Mailbox
I believe the term "professional selling" has very little value because its use is highly subjective, and, context driven.

In my case, I might associate "professional" with "responsible." In another conversation and context, I might associate "professional" with "qualified" or "knowledgeable." In still another, I might comment on a person's lack of professionalism because he failed to meet my standards for salesmanship--such as not listening to what I, the buyer, was saying.

None of those usages could be disputed; yet, none would serve as a definitive view on professional selling.

Lastly, I have always thought the term "sales professional" was often used for compensatory reasons. I don't call myself a sales professional, but I am a professional who sells. - by Gary A Boye
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