You can’t consult and sell at the same time
Since I was a sales trainee at IBM 30 years ago and countless times since I’ve heard trainers and authors alike encourage sales people to be more consultative. They insist that consultative sales is the rep’s key success factor and the evidence of this notion’s popularity is that one of the best-selling sales books of all time is titled “Consultative Selling”.
With all due respect – I emphatically disagree. In fact, having spent several years leading worldwide business development for Accenture and serving clients including IBM, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young among others, I’d argue that “consultative selling” is oxymoronic. Let me explain.
When I joined Accenture in 1994 I learned the essence of what consulting with clients is all about:
- Assessing the client’s business problems and priorities
- Providing insights, advice, and counsel
- Helping the client assess alternative approaches and solutions to their issues
- And, if needed, successfully implementing the chosen solution focused on achieving the targeted business benefit
I recall being struck by how infrequently great consultants actually “sell” in the traditional sense of the word. Did you happen to notice that “close” or “sell” isn’t listed above? The reason: when done well, consulting doesn’t require a lot of pressure or slick sales-oriented tactics – because we build enough credibility and trust to make these techniques unnecessary. Alternatively, effective consulting (and UnSelling™) relies on the following guiding principles:
- You can consult or you can sell, it’s a lot more difficult to do both
- Our core intent: create trust between us and the client
- Mean what you say…
- And say what you mean
- Bad news early is good news – for our benefit and the client’s benefit as well
- Ultimately, our client’s success is what really matters
Notice the stark contrast between these principles and what you hear from the average sales trainer/author? And that’s the point! Consult with your clients and they’ll want to buy – you don’t have to “sell” them!
For more information on UnSelling™ you can download a free copy of Peter Bourke’s newly published eBook UnSelling™: Sell Less … To Win More. The free eBook is available in several formats, including Kindle, Nook, iBook, PDF, and more.