Businessman talking on the phone

The Vertical and Horizontal Sales Process

Sep 16 2015, by PEOPLE in Sales

There are many different selling methods out there, two of the most popular ones being the vertical sales process and the horizontal sales process. Many salespeople rely on one or the other. Unfortunately, vertical and horizontal methods both have pros and cons. Favoring one over the other can leave out essential aspects of the sales process. Consider blending the two for a more cohesive method.

Sometimes salespeople rely on a sales process that is only vertical. The vertical sales process includes everything that would normally occur in a single sales interaction such as opening a call, agreeing on an agenda, and gaining commitments. The vertical sales process assumes that one single interaction is needed to create an opportunity and win it. On the other hand, the horizontal sales process takes the many stages of a longer, more complex, and higher risk sale into account. It targets and moves through various stages such as qualifying, presentation, and acquisition and outlines all the necessary outcomes and commitments for each stage.

A vertical sales process is great for transactional sales or business to consumer sales but they fall short when it comes to sales with a high price, high risk, and necessary consensus. The horizontal sales process is better suited toward business to business sales but doesn’t provide much guidance for approaching specific interactions. Merging bits and pieces from the vertical sales process and the horizontal sales process allows salespeople to adjust their tactics when needed for different scenarios.

Salespeople who rely on the horizontal process will likely find that their technique can be enhanced by integrating vertical process tactics. A horizontal sales process is sometimes favored because this method is geared toward longer and more complicated sales. However, adding a vertical axis to the sale empowers salespeople with the knowledge and guidance they need when it comes to creating value during each and every interaction with their prospects. Being able to emphasize this value is necessary in order to win their commitment and move on to the next step.

Salespeople who have been primarily using a vertical approach can find some benefits in exploring horizontal methods. While the vertical sales process focuses on single interactions, integrating a horizontal access allows salespeople to fine tune their long game by thinking in stages and outlining what needs to happen in each stage. This can help salespeople think ahead, even if the sale isn’t as long or complex as typical horizontal sales.

Every salesperson knows that the sales process is never black and white or as clear cut as they might wish. Keeping to one type of sales process over another forces the complicated nature of sales to become compressed and restrained. This could actually make the sales process more difficult instead of simplifying it. Creating a blend of vertical and horizontal techniques can open up the sales process to more possibilities and equip salespeople for the many unique scenarios that can come up during a sale. Utilizing both horizontal and vertical methods creates a smoother experience for everyone involved.