Dave Kurlan is a top-rated keynote speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and expert on all things sales and selling.
Many of the Sales Force Evaluations provided by Objective Management Group (OMG) reveal that the company's problems run so deep that they will require a complete sales force makeover. However, it doesn't always have to be that way. Sometimes, a single word, question or statement will change how every prospect responds.
In one such company, most of their opportunities were found via inbound calls. As you might expect, the first question from each prospect had to do with pricing and availability. Salespeople weren't able to answer the pricing question and continue to keep their callers on the phone. Selling was very transactional and they had little control over outcomes.
By only modifying how they responded to the price question, they were able to take the first step toward transitioning from a transactional sale to a consultative process. They began having deeper and wider conversations which led to more closed business.
The consultative sales process is more than just a sales approach. When customers buy transactionally, they tend to repeat the same behavior, calling or clicking vendors for pricing, choosing the lowest price or most convenient option. On the other hand, when customers are sold consultatively, they tend to remain that company's/salesperson's customers by making repeat purchases. Isn't that a convincing case for transitioning from transactional to consultative selling?
Yesterday I had a discussion with an industry-leading company with 700 people in their sales organization. Their competitors were closing new business but they weren't. Why? Their competitors hired strong salespeople to take away business from the industry-leading company while the industry-leading company was still hiring order-takers - a selection method left over from the days when people lined up to buy from them. Their ability to make the transition from transactional to consultative selling will depend on several factors:
- How many salespeople have the incentive to change,
- How many salespeople are coachable,
- Which salespeople have strengths that support consultative selling,
- Which salespeople can make that change in a reasonable period of time,
- Whether their sales management team can drive that change,
- Whether they are willing to abandon their current set of non-sales specific competencies,
- Whether they have enough time,
- Whether they are willing to invest in training and development,
- Whether they will make the personnel changes that will ultimately be required, and
- Their willingness to embrace a new sales process that supports consultative selling.
The key among the ten factors listed above is #5 - Whether sales management can drive the process. What is involved in driving process?
- Creating a proper sales coaching environment,
- Mastering the coaching skills to support the consultative selling skills training,
- Holding their salespeople accountable to the desired changes,
- Making the time to coach and hold salespeople accountable each day,
- Learning to recruit salespeople who already possess the ability to sell consultatively,
- Embracing the change,
- Ability to replace salespeople who aren't successfully making the transition,
- Motivating their salespeople during a time of challenging change,
- Staying 5 steps ahead of their salespeople in the mastery of consultative selling skills, and
- Leading by example.
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