Fine-tune consultative selling by starting with what you know

After observing many sales calls, one thing has always struck us – sales reps very often don’t leverage what they know from one client to the next.       

Building Business Acumen into Sales

 Jill Konrath recently provided a discussion of this issue in salesforcexp.com. No longer can sales reps just ask a lot of questions up-front. Rather, customers expect them to bring expertise and net it out. Sales reps need to make initial assumptions about their prospects’ issues, needs and concerns based upon what they know about similar companies in the same industry. In other words, “you have to prove that you’re a viable player before customers open up to you. Demonstrate your expertise up-front. That’s how you earn the right to be consultative and have candid conversations.”      

We agree – sales reps need to do a better job leveraging knowledge and insights across companies within an industry. But, at the industry level generalizing doesn’t end. It is also possible to generalize at the position level. While there are differences between clients, many of the issues concerning the CIO in Client A are similar to those concerning the CIO in Client B – like rapid changes in technology, shortage of staff with the requisite technical skills, and budget issues. And, of course, this holds true for most positions, whether you are talking about Materials Managers, Marketing Directors, CFOs, or Medical Directors, for example.       

This fine-tuning of how sales people might look at consultative selling is important – and illustrates that business acumen is becoming increasingly essential skill set in the sales rep’s bag.  In fact, it aligns with one of the trends mentioned in the 2011 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Study – companies reported they were adding training for understanding the customer’s marketplace and buying process, along with a focus on the justification of the cost of their products and services. Let’s hear it for business acumen!     

Check out other posts on sales effectiveness at the Sales Training Connection. 

©2011 Sales Horizons, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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2 Responses to Fine-tune consultative selling by starting with what you know

  1. Dreyfus Scott says:

    “That is so true. Consultation is all about product specialization. “

  2. Pingback: Top 50 Must-Read Blogs on Consultative Selling- Docurated

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