As a sales professional you’ve likely observed that today’s customer is more informed and educated than ever before. However, in spite of this trend, we disagree with those who speculate that consultative selling is dying – or perhaps dead already.
In other words, just because your customer may have more insight into your product or company before an interaction occurs, it doesn’t mean the role of your sales team should be reduced to a talking credit card machine.
At Janek, we believe Need-Based Selling™ or, consultative selling, and the ability to create not just one-time sales but ongoing relationships is as relevant now as it ever was. In our opinion, sales forces should be continually working to make the shift away from transactional sales. And there is a reason we say continually, as making a true shift in selling mentality takes time – you have to walk before you can run.
We suggest starting your shift by making baby steps, like the three below.
1. Consider your current sales process.
Take a look at your current sales process and determine whether or not it supports a Need-Based Selling approach. Read: You do have a formalized sales process, don’t you?
Back to your process. Are there tweaks that can be made to allow sales people more freedom? The freedom to have real conversations and not just make sales pitches? The ability to gauge whether the customer is a good fit instead of forcing the close? What about instead of quickly countering objections, actually taking the time to discover the root cause behind them?
Identify areas and opportunities where your sales team can begin to be viewed and valued as trusted advisors instead of pressure-inducing quota makers.
2. Rethink your selling methodology.
Once you determine areas where Need-Based Selling can be injected into your sales process, determine how it will be integrated, and retrain your sales team accordingly. A proper selling methodology, meaning the uniform way that your sales force operates – from the necessary mentality to the proper language to the end goal – it is imperative for everyone to be on the same page.
Making changes to your sales process is just half the battle. If you don’t change the methodology to match, you won’t achieve the desired shift or the desired result.
3. Honestly assess your people.
This is an important piece; and we consider it a baby step only because this has to be done before you go any further. Think about the fact that your sales force has likely been trained one way for quite some time. Transactional sales tactics may be all that they know – or worse – all that they are willing to know.
And this is where it’s important to assess who can or is willing to accept the shift toward Need-Based Selling. Not being happy about it and not being capable of doing it are two different things. It’s up to you and your sales managers to perform accurate assessments for each individual. Those who want to, will find a way to adjust and adapt. Besides, aren’t those the type of people you want on your team anyway?
The shift away from transactional sales can be slow going, but it could mean deeper, more productive customer relationships, which could eventually translate to more profits. Better late than never, right?