The German way of selling

The German way of selling.

I do work for some years now for US companies in international technology business. I learnt so much about how the American way of selling works and I am still impressed about the approach . Not much space left for surprises, well structured,  highly efficient and very much predictable in terms of forecasting.From marketing to lead generation, prospecting up to negotiating and closing there is alwaysa process behind. Very well structured.  To start stereotyping, as a German I should love it. And I do.

When it comes to customer meetings you will not be left alone as well, because before that you have been trained briefly on an Anglo-American sales methodology to be most successful.

Sandler, Ferrazzi, entrepreneurial Drucker, SPIN selling – all this equips you to have the right answers, to be able to ask the right questions and to find yourself always in the right sales stage. But does this work out for the German market as well?  I changed my view a bit on that. If somebody had asked me some years ago which nation has invented the perfect way of selling, I definitely would have said the United States. But now I think this may have changed a bit or at least it is more relevant to the local market and conditions. Looking at Europe’s trading situation we realise one obvious fact for years. Germany has a huge export surplus compared to all other 27 nations and it is still growing. This causes already lots of trouble in the European Union because it is an imbalanced situation with tension and disadvantages for countries especially in the South. It is likely to be said that the reasons behind Germany’s economic success are the outstanding quality of the goods and the advanced technology, which I agree on.

From a sales perspective for sure it is much easier to sell the products which the customer demands. Not a big deal you might say and I agree on this as well. But this is only 50% of it.  As a sales manager I know that you can have the best products in a territory with the highest potential, but this is never a guarantee to make your quota as the best achiever.  There is more behind it. But what is it?  Is it the German way of selling? What is this exactly?

I will describe three examples.

  1. Build rapport, but keep the distance

Sure, every sales call has to be warmed up. Have a quick chat about the weather,  plans for the weekend or the last football match. But that’s it.  Keep it simple and try not to dig too deep. Your ice breaker should be a short starting point before talking business. As a sales person on the German market, you should be seen by the customer as a trusted adviser rather than a buddy. German sales persons on international markets do consultative selling on the other hand. Their customer really much appreciate it.

  1. Talk details and features.

The value selling on UK and US market is a common thing.  It is avoiding to name products (even not saying this bad word, because it is a solution) and focusing on personal benefits for the customer. German sales persons (and their prospects) like to fire out features. It is because of a certain pride that a specific production unit can do xyz more jobs in an hour as the one of the competition. This is proven by technical details and is part of the sales discussion. If you are good or even better in something – name it. And name the product.

  1. Don’t talk sales wishy-washy

Sales in Germany is still seen as something with a negative touch and has not the best reputation. German customers react really sensitive on influential selling and quickly find out why, you ask about personal impact to get closer to the pain funnel. Leave it out or at least use this technique carefully. Otherwise you will experience that you gain the contrary of that you wanted to achieve – you lose trust. German sales persons earlier go into the final closing question. Even when they lose a deal. Don’t get me wrong. Many sales techniques are there for a reason. But they are not universally adaptable. You have to find your own way to do it. It is a science which you only can learn by practicing. It is because of that why I love selling. So next time you may try it the German way? Happy closing.


About monissen
- raised up analogue - arrived in the digital age - now working in Munich - living in Bremerhaven - lived and worked in Dublin, Ireland - the heart of IT, and fell in love - lived and fell in love in and with Andalusia before - born in Northern Germany, Eckernförde - affinity for lyrics in general - like reading - like running - enjoying life

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