Table of Contents
What is Sales Orientation?
Sales orientation is a business model that prioritizes aggressive sales tactics and promotional activities to gain market share over focusing on customers’ needs. It’s based on the idea that “everyone is a potential customer” and the sales department must convince them to buy.
A completely sales-oriented business approach is becoming less popular in today’s world, where customer-centricity has taken precedence. Companies have shifted their focus to understanding customer needs and providing solutions tailored to them, rather than trying to push products onto anyone who may be interested. Solution selling is an example of this.
Sales orientation still has its place in the sales process. But most organizations find sales, marketing, and product development are equally important and a balance between the three can be beneficial.
Product teams rely on customer feedback to create excellent products, and most businesses have an ideal customer profile (ICP) they sell into. So the majority of sales teams use a hybrid between sales orientation and market orientation.
- Sales-oriented business approach
Purpose of a Sales-Oriented Business Model
The main reason a company would use sales orientation over another business strategy is to get new customers into the sales funnel. If an organization has a large marketing budget and the potential to make big profits from new customers, it might consider using a sales-oriented strategy.
Sales orientation also works well for companies selling a new and innovative product — for example, a new wellness product with a special herb previously unknown to the public. In this case, the sales department doesn’t need to focus on customer needs because they don’t exist yet. Instead, they turn straight to aggressive ad campaigns to educate customers about their product offerings.
Companies in semi-monopolistic industries also use sales orientation strategies. When customer needs are generalized (e.g., telecom providers) and everyone needs the same product, it’s better to focus on specific benefits of choosing one provider over the other.
A purely sales-oriented approach doesn’t work as well when there is already established demand, a lot of direct competition, or a well-defined ICP. When a company can look at long-term purchasing trends, it’s usually better to focus on the customer.
Traits of a Sales-Oriented Company
Frequent Promotions and Discounts
The ideology driving a sales-oriented company is, “If we have the best product at the best price, we can drive sales.” So, they often run promotions and discounts to attract customers.
This may include:
- Penetration pricing
- Buy one, get one free
- X% off
- Price breaks
- Seasonal discounts
- Membership-only deals
Most companies use discounting to some degree. Sales orientation takes it to a whole other level. Rather than a simple way to move leftover inventory or drive customer adoption, it’s a core element of their revenue strategy. Sales-oriented companies fully expect to mark their prices down, and they account for it in sales projections.
Aggressive Sales Tactics
Sales orientation is all about getting people to purchase as quickly and often as possible.
To do that, salespeople use aggressive tactics like:
- Cold calling
- Door-to-door canvassing
- Hard closing techniques
- High-pressure sales environment
Outbound selling isn’t obsolete by any means. Sales-oriented busiensses use it to reach new prospects, warm up leads, and close deals, but so do most B2B SaaS companies (most of which use a hybrid between sales and market orientation).
It’s worth noting that while sales orientation inherently relies on outbound sales techniques, sales tools like DealRoom help the sales team engage their prospects in a more interactive and meaningful way.
Persuasive Sales Representatives
“Persuasive” doesn’t necessarily translate to “salesy” or “pushy.”
The ideal sales representative is a problem-solver and an expert. They have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to explain why their company’s product or service is the best choice for that particular customer. As a result, they can convince prospects to purchase with minimal effort.
For a sales orientation strategy to work in practice, every sales rep has to strike the perfect balance between knowledgeable and persuasive.
Sales-oriented companies invest heavily in ad campaigns to increase brand awareness and generate leads. It’s not uncommon for them to spend more on advertising than market research or product development, which makes sense since they’re focused more on driving sales and providing a quality experience to existing customers.
Sellers don’t know how qualified their prospects are until they actually call them. And marketing qualified leads (MQLs) coming in from less targeted ad campaigns will naturally be less suited for the product more often.
The whole point of sales orientation is to target everyone at first, qualify them on a few basic criteria, then get them into a sales meeting where the salesperson can either close them or discover they aren’t a good fit for the product.
Emphasis on Quality
A lack of focus on customer needs doesn’t mean neglect for quality. A business isn’t sustainable with a bad product.
Sales-oriented businesses are highly focused on producing excellent products and services at the best price (even though they often don’t take customer feedback into account).
That’s because high-quality products can make aggressive sales tactics more persuasive and facilitate a short sales cycle.
Difference Between Sales Orientation and Market Orientation
The main difference between sales orientation and market orientation is how businesses using either strategy develop and promote their products and services.
Sales orientation is internally focused. With sales orientation, companies focus on selling the products they’re best at producing. The ultimate goal is to develop and promote core products they can produce at the lowest possible cost.
Sales-oriented businesses establish their main selling points and use competitive pricing to get more customers to buy. Rather than develop new products to adapt to changing consumer demand, they use their pricing and messaging to try to shift consumer demand.
Market orientation is externally focused. Market-oriented companies focus on understanding the pain points of their target market. The goal is to develop products that meet those needs, then promote them to customers using market research insights.
While the sales orientation approach can increase sales in the short term, market orientation prioritizes long-term customer value.
Example Industries Using a Sales-Oriented Approach
Insurance is perhaps the best example of sales orientation. Most insurance packages dont reflect a customer’s exact needs. They’re solely focused on meeting a customer’s legal requirements.
Many types of insurance products also don’t drive many inbound leads. Life insurance, for example, isn’t top of mind for most people. One of the biggest challenges for insurance sales reps is convincing their buyers it’s a good idea in the first place.
Telecommunication companies have a natural monopoly in their service area. The industry is competitive because multiple companies compete for the same customers, but only a few can provide the service. And their offerings are practically the same.
Telecoms use sales and marketing promotions to get customers to convert from a competitor for no other reason than price. They also advertise their better coverage in certain areas, which helps them land new subscribers.
Retail is one of the most sales-oriented industries because customers can easily compare prices and products. Sales cycles are short and plenty of people make impulse purchases.
Black Friday is a perfect example of why sales orientation works for retail. Stores offer huge discounts and deals to lure customers into their stores. And they use aggressive advertising tactics to get people to go there on that day. And it works 100% of the time.
Consumer products companies often need to develop their product first based on preconceived notions. Once they have a product, they rely on sales and marketing strategies that bring attention to the problem and offer the product as a solution.
For example, the Scrub Daddy is a fun, silly-looking sponge. Some people buy it because the smiley face is cute. But it’s actually revolutionary — the sponge’s polymer cleans scratch-free and changes texture based on how hot or cold the water is. The company sells these benefits hard in its marketing collateral.
Some tech companies are sales-oriented because they rely on a completely new concept that could change the way people do business.
- Square revolutionized how small businesses accept payments by creating a compact card reader that can be attached to a smartphone or tablet. This solution solved the problem of limited payment options for small businesses and enabled them to accept credit card payments easily.
- Afterpay — an app-based payment platform that allows customers to pay for online orders in installments without interest — solved the problem of large upfront payments and enabled customers to purchase items they couldn’t otherwise afford.
In both cases, these companies used sales orientation to promote their solutions and get customers onboard. They aren’t exactly problems business owners could put their finger on. But the end result of educating buyers and getting them to adopt is more revenue for them.
Most people know the importance of their bodily functions. And they know when something is wrong (e.g., constant bloating, dehydration, poor appetite regulation). They rarely know what causes it, and they definitely don’t wander through the forest picking up herbs they can’t pronounce.
Nutrition companies rely on sales orientation to persuade customers to buy their products. They use field marketing and product explanations to showcase why their solutions are better than the alternatives and let users try them. They also focus on convincing customers that their products are worth the money — even if they don’t know what’s in them or how they work.
The automotive industry is heavily reliant on sales orientation. Cars come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and prices. To get customers to buy, companies need to differentiate their products from the competition.
They do this by emphasizing features that are important to buyers — e.g., fuel efficiency, safety ratings and performance specs. They advertise to anyone and everyone, hoping to capture their attention. And they use seasonal incentives to nudge buyers into making a purchase.
People Also Ask
What are the 4 types of company orientation?
The four types of company orientation are production orientation, product orientation, marketing orientation and sales orientation.
Production-oriented companies focus on producing the most cost-effective products that can satisfy customer needs. An example would be fast food restaurants.
Product-oriented companies focus on creating high-quality products that are tailored to customers’ needs. Examples include Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.
Marketing-oriented companies focus on understanding customers and adapting their products accordingly. The SaaS industry is a great example of this.
Sales-oriented companies focus on aggressive sales techniques to increase their market share. Sales orientation examples include insurance companies, telecoms, and retail.
What is the objective of sales orientation?
The main objective of sales orientation is to increase market share and drive more revenue. This approach relies on aggressive tactics such as competitive pricing, discounts, and promotions to capture consumer attention and boost conversion rates. It also focuses on outbound marketing strategies such as cold-calling, emailing prospects, and attending trade shows. Sales teams use these techniques to shift consumer attention toward their products.