Wow! I rarely re-read a blog post three times, and I just did. This one of your more profound blog posts. Do you have any other posts where you discussing consultative selling Kurlan style into action?
@ Teicko - thanks!
Check out http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/tabid/5809/bid/11585/The-Difference-Between-Consultative-Selling-and-Consultants.aspx
I've known you for 14 years and read most of what you've written. This is your clearest, most concise, tightest, most profound blog/writing I've read.
I couldn't agree more and say:
AMEN, AMEN, AMEN
Some mornings I actually do have some clarity...
Your post is timely. I just met with a client's sales team and the main topic was what they needed to do if they were going to sell more new accounts in 2012 than in 2011. The conclusion that we all agreed to was they needed to improve their Consultative Selling Skills. They agreed that by being more consultative and more direct about whether they can really help their prospects, they will sell customers in 1 or 2 months rather than 3 to 6. They agreed they will waste less time on marginal prospects. And they agreed that by being a businessman who is a peer rather than a salesman who is not, they can double the number of preferred accounts they win. Over the next 3 to 5 years, having more preferred accounts is worth hundreds of thousands in income to these salespeople. For the client, a higher performance Consultative Sales Force is a competitive advantage, and that advantage means thousands more preferred accounts that are worth millions to the owners. For us, the challenge is helping our clients hire, develop, and keep these high performers. A high performance, consultative sales culture is not easily copied, and it is why smart clients pay us to help them.
Dave, You are absolutely right on the significance / meaning of this important sales competency of "consultative selling". Could not agree more actually, thanks for putting it so nicely.
I have a few observations -
1. A good consultative sales professional is likely to suffer on his operational scale. Though in long term, he is likely to get compensated by way of being 'in-demand'.
2. Perhaps this competency is 'more' suited where there are identified verticals.
3. To my understanding, this competency is a mindset issue, one may gain on this very quickly or might take years to acquire it. Importantly, sales professionals who are lucky to have this, actually 'might' find themselves no-so-fit in the community with its attendant challenges ( not many of the sales managers will appreciate it ).
Solicit your expert opinion to the above.
Right on, Dave! I thought you were going to say Questioning Skills, but selling in a Consultative way really is #1. Most people have never even heard of any other way of selling than the Transactional (Objections-Rebuttals) model. I spend at least half of my time sharing with business owners and consultants that there is another way of selling.
When I do run into someone who has buy-in to the Transactional model (which *will* work for you if you're super-persistent at learning and applying its ways, and enjoy becoming an Encyclopedia Rebuttica), and they're aware of other styles of selling, they often try to tell the crowd of listeners that anything other than the way they've chosen is weak, slow and ineffective. They tell people that consultative selling is talking about the weather. Then I have to respond: consultative selling is about being Tough! Asking the difficult questions! Putting pressure on the *prospect* (not you, the salesperson, in contrast to traditional selling) by having them acknowledge that they have a serious problem--and successfully avoiding the price objection, as I do, by then showing qualified buyers that you have the solution.
It takes guts to be a consultative selling person. Anyone can "show up and throw up", blasting away with features & benefits as old-style salespeople do. If you do this often enough, you will make sales, it is true. But if you want an experience that feels more rewarding, allows you to be a problem-solver and not a features & benefits pusher, and ties your income--if you do it correctly--to the size of the problems you solve, rather than how many units you get out the door, then consultative selling is probably for you.
The alternative is to remain in a world where the buyer-prospects have figured out what you do and why you do it, and are merely trying to get a free education out of you by appearing interested...and then disappearing to find what you have so nicely told them about at the lowest possible price. (I really hate "following up", don't you??)
With all this in mind, it's no wonder that a consultative selling skill set is the key to an effective career in modern Sales.
Interesting point about scale and challenges.
There isn't enough time to sell consultativly when salespeople must sell many deals per day.
"There isn't enough time to sell consultativly when salespeople must sell many deals per day."
It's true that it slows the process down...but you get far fewer incidents of buyer's remorse.
It's true that you have to ask more questions...but you get to the real reasons why this prospect needs what you have to offer.
It's true that each conversation is longer...but your discussions are more meaningful, genuine, and of a problem-solving nature.
If you're selling milk in a corner store, you don't need consultative selling ("So tell me...when did you first realize you had the need for milk?"). But if there's anything technical about what you do, if your prospects have real problems, and you can learn to qualify well, consultative selling can result in quick sales for you.
I talk to a lot of small business consultants who have very little Sales knowledge. Their cold calling experiences are terrible, getting hung up on even before they can give away a free report! So they could do all this activity, making hundreds of bad calls, and get nowhere fast. Or, they could learn a consultative/permission-based script from me (or you) and start turning gatekeepers into friends, and having good, *Focused* conversations with prospects to quickly qualify them in for the next step or out. Remember, in consultative selling, Yes is good; No is good; but Think It Overs are unacceptable. So I believe consultative selling actually makes Sales happen faster, by slowing specific things down for clear understanding by both sides of what is going to happen next.
Right on Jason - 100% accurate. When I mentioned lack of time to sell consultatively when many deals per day were expected, I was referring to volume order taking, shelf stocking,fulfillment centers, and most inside sales groups where their effectiveness is measured in how quickly they end their calls.