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The Two Vital Roles of Effective Salespeople - Part 1

By Bob Parks

Your sales force is looking for the tools it takes to be more effective. You’re looking for ways to make your organization more competitive. You need to bridge the gap between your business goals and your sales performance by implementing sales solutions that consistently produce results. Salespeople must play two vital roles:

  1. A Business Consultant providing advantages to the customer.
  2. A Strategist advancing your organization’s business through wise opportunities.

Let’s dive deeper into what a Business Consultant is and why they are more effective
salespeople.

Solutions vs Products

Traditional sources of long term competitive advantage, and even strategies to sustain those advantages, have proven to be too static for today’s marketplace. Organizations must quickly and effectively gain and regain the right to the customer’s business and, at the same time, outmaneuver the competition.

Traditional selling focuses on products and closing deals as the keys to success and are driven by techniques and formulas:

  • The best way to gain an appointment.
  • The latest method for closing a deal.
  • How to handle objections.

Now that’s not to say that techniques are never an appropriate tool. But today’s buyer is more
sophisticated and resistant to manipulation through rote sales methods.

Consultative selling focuses on solutions and concentrates on building a relationship with customers based on honesty, trust, professionalism and sincere interest in the customer’s business. Although consultative selling requires effort, over time it is more efficient and results in a sincere, ongoing business relationship, and perhaps a customer for life. The consultative representative is out to help customers solve problems, and seizing these opportunities might involve something outside their usual bag of products.

“We achieved $55 million in additional sales after the first year of training, attributed to the new sales skills.” Siemens Water Technologies

Take for instance the case of a small company that supplied shelving to a giant retailer. A sales team from the small company met with executives from the giant retailer in order to review their relationship to see if any improvements were needed.

During the meeting, a retail executive brought up an issue unrelated to shelving. He said a real need they had was an organized system for regularly distributing a multitude of manufacturers’ store displays among various locations. Then he jokingly suggested that a solution to that problem would really make them happy.

Rising to the challenge, the sales team brainstormed on the way home and later devised a display distribution system that was successfully tested at the giant retailer's stores. The sales team responded according to an important principle in consultative selling: addressing the customer’s personal motives is a priority.

“84% believed that the consultative selling skills they used gave them a competitive advantage&rdquo Maggie Acklin, Siemens Training Department

The success of the customer is the key to the consultative seller’s success. It is an approach summarized by the acronym SEL:

  • Service: How can I improve my customer’s service to his/her customers?
  • Economics: How can I improve the economics of my customer’s business through my offerings?
  • Life: How can I improve the quality of life for the people who work for my customer?

Consultative selling is a personalized approach that takes discipline and persistent effort. It capitalizes on the strengths of your skills and personality to develop solutions for customers that result in a win-win situation. It’s not the easiest route in selling for it takes on-going education and rapport building efforts. Yet, there is something very magical about consultative selling. It turns PROSPECTS into PEOPLE and CUSTOMERS into PARTNERS. Next week I will discuss how a salesperson must also be a Strategist to be effective.

Published: March 7, 2014

MEET THE AUTHOR

Bob Parks

Senior Partner

Bob, one of the founders of Strategic Enhancement Group, has over 40 years of experience in business. Prior to starting Strategic Enhancement Group in 1984, he held sales, sales management, senior management and board of directors’ positions with three international companies. Bob earned his B.S. from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Executive Program. SEG has consistently been one of Wilson Learning’s top performing and award-winning partners for over two decades. Bob has won both the Crystal Wisdom Award and the Summit Award given by Wilson Learning for outstanding contribution to the culture and growth of Wilson Learning’s agency network. He served as President of the Board of Advisors to Wilson Learning as well as on several charitable organization boards.

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