Kestio

The salesman is dead. Long live the advisory salesman! Episode 2

Summary of the previous episode (for those who join us, discover in episode 1 how "buyer power" forces field salespeople to move towards consultative sales) :

A recent study published by the American firm Forrester predicts the imminent death of the field sales profession in the face of e-commerce. However, a different outcome is possible for BtoB field salespeople, provided that they review their positioning and adopt a consulting posture, particularly through the quality of their questioning and a more "customer-centric" approach.

What are the other components of the consultative salesman's posture, and how can you appropriate them? That's what we'll look at in this second part.

 

Position yourself as an expert

While listening is the key to creating the conditions for a relationship of trust, it is also important to be able to demonstrate your added value.

In companies, the formalisation of a project is often delicate and complex. Even if they are increasingly knowledgeable and autonomous, customers expect their sales representatives to have the expertise to refine the contours of their project.

 

Buyers are looking for sales people who can challenge them: analyse a situation, carry out a diagnosis and model the data collected. This will enable them to formalise and synthesise the main ideas of their project, and thus help them to "sell" it internally.

 

The sales consultant must be perceived as an expert, from whom the customer expects an opinion. But be careful not to confuse "advice" with "solution proposal"... This would again be tantamount to trying to sell something!

The expert salesperson must express and assume his or her convictions on a given subject, and lead his or her interlocutor to react in turn. They must be able to deliver a point of view and develop it, not to convince but to shed factual light on their client's concerns.

 

The value contribution of the salesperson is also measured by a "profitability" approach.

 

All companies are concerned with return on investment. The sales consultant is there to help his client bring his idea to fruition, so he must offer himindicators to measure the effectiveness and profitability of his solution, the famous ROI.

Thus, the customer is no longer focused on the cost of the solution but on the financial gain or savings it will enable him to make.

 

Rely on the reformulation of the client's issues

Finally, the sales consultant demonstrates his or her value by his or her ability to integrate and reformulate the issues and concerns of his or her interlocutor.

On the one hand, reformulation helps to avoid misinterpretation: if the salesperson has missed something important, the other person will have the opportunity to clarify it without feeling attacked. On the other hand, a well-mastered reformulation demonstrates professionalism and leads the other person to move in the desired direction. Finally, reformulating the issues will give rise to new questions which will allow new ideas, suggestions or proposals to be introduced.

 

By bringing together all the components mentioned (quality of questioning, contribution of expertise, demonstration of the value of the solution, reformulation of the customer's issues, etc.), the sales consultant creates the conditions for a state of mind of collaboration and partnership.

 

Register as a partner

The consulting posture requiresacting as a consultant andadopting a benevolent attitude towards the client to help him define his needs, move his project forward and make it a reality.

In a company, it is in the interest of the project leader to be accompanied by an external party to help him or her "sell" the idea internally and convince the forces involved and concerned.

It is therefore necessary to join him in the success of the project, and offer to act as a conductor of the different teams, making him understand - tactfully - that the business and the client share the same interest: the progress of the project.

 

Identify decision-makers

In this pre-sales/sales phase, the challenge for the salesperson is also toidentify the actors involved in the decision and then to gather their vision of the current reflection. This stage will enable him to remove any obstacles, give meaning to the process, encourage support and begin to involve all the people in the decision. Of course, he or she will keep his or her privileged interlocutor informed of the progress of his or her contacts in order to consolidate the relationship of trust.

 

The sales consultant may propose "working meetings", or "co-construction workshops", or a "meeting to summarise the understanding of the issues".

These meeting formats are far more effective and impactful than the classic "presentation meetings", "discovery meetings" and "proposal handover", which are still the panacea for the hardcore salesperson.

Nevertheless, clients sometimes refuse to accept this mode of operation. The real reasons for such a refusal should be analysed. But very often, a blockage of this type is the sign of a lack of desire to engage in collaboration. The question then arises as to whether or not to continue the exchanges with the client. In other words: Go / No Go?

 

A No Go will avoid spending unnecessary time and commercial energy on a deal that has little chance of success, so that more promising projects can be pursued.

 

In summary...!

The consulting posture is based above all on the ability of the salesperson to put aside the need to sell and concentrate solely on listening and advising.

 

Thus addressed, the act of sale becomes an act of non-sale.

 

And this paradigm shift is not insignificant! Positioning oneself as an expert cannot be improvised or decreed. The salesperson wishing to adopt a consultancy posture must cultivate and develop additional relational skills, which have become indispensable today to gain the trust of a client, including: mastering one's speech, one's behaviour, one's rhetoric, the art of questioning and rebound.

On this note, we wish you very good sales ! Sorry, very good advice... ; )

 

Repositioning your business can be vital in a difficult situation. Find out more about the different stages of this process in this webinar:

 


1 External resources :

Our exclusive methods and training modules on this topic:

- The Chipping Method© - Key account sales and complex sales
- The KESTIO System© sales training modules - Sales effectiveness and dialogue tools
- The DISC© Method - Behavioural analysis for sales people and managers

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