- April 8, 2013
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
Inc. Magazine ran an article on its website that I just can’t ignore. It’s making my blood boil.
Why Consultative Doesn’t Work is irresponsible writing. Forget for a minute that those of us in the sales development space (he calls us pundits) have been trying to help companies and their sales teams transition from a transactional to a consultative approach for years. Transactional selling no longer works unless you are content to be the low-cost leader. The article’s author, Geoffrey James, says that consultative sellers strive to become trusted advisors and companies don’t need “some smart**s who kibbutzes from the sidelines.”
James does not tell the entire story.
He fails to mention that the top 26% of all salespeople rank that high because they do sell consultatively. The smart-asses are some of the remaining 74% who think they are selling that way but simply ask a few lame questions prior to plunging ahead with their ill-timed demos and presentations. They are still selling transactionally. They are the ones that appear to be smart-asses because they are making the claims and recommendations without benefit of having had a meaningful conversation with their prospects.
James is guilty of one of the most common misunderstanding in all of sales – that consultative selling requires salespeople to act like a consultant. Not true. Consultative selling, when taught, practiced and applied correctly, is primarily about listening, responding with thoughtful, intelligent questions, helping a prospect to recognize their compelling reason to buy, and in the process, differentiating yourself from the competition. If the customer/client then trusts you enough to seek your advice on matters in which you are an expert, all the better.
The other problem I have with this article is that rather than propose an alternative selling approach, James suggests that salespeople should be able to fill the function that a manager would have served if the product or service was being handled in-house. Are you kidding me? Granted, some services that are outsourced could be done in-house but 95% of the time this is simply impossible. Think about some of the core services and products that nearly every business, your business, purchases:
- Health Insurance and 401K
- Business, Auto and Professional Liability Insurance
- Commercial Real Estate
- Office Supplies and Furniture
- Copiers, Printers, Computers and Business Equipment
- Telecommunications and Internet
- Business Software and Applications
- Postage and Shipping
- Legal and Accounting
- Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations