One of my friends thinks ‘Sales’ is about talking. Another friend I follow on Twitter thinks it is about ‘convincing’ the customer. I wince every time I hear someone characterize an engaging, fluent, fast talking, bloke as ‘sales material’.

Sales, as you might agree, is really not any of that.

Definitely not.

Unless you sell snake oil or some hair cream that promises magical appearance of hair overnight on sprawling bald patches on the head.

Glib talk, ‘convincing’, pushiness…none of that is really sales. Not if you are selling technology solutions. Not if you are in consultative selling. These require a different skill altogether.

But then, is there really something like Consultative Selling at all?

I would argue that there is no such thing. If you really look at the big picture, there ought to be no active selling in consultative selling. If you look back at all the times you have really been successful in closing a deal, you’d realize that more often than not, you have thought less about closing the deal and more about helping your prospect buy. You will realize that each of those times, you really weren’t wearing the old sales hat.

What is likely to have made you successful each time was that you helped those prospects decide what was right for them. You put aside your hard-sell compulsions and your quarterly target pressures and the lure of sales incentives and truly enabled the prospect along his journey of his buying process. Of course, you also got them to see how your product or service was a right fit, but essentially all you did was only align their need with what you had to offer.

You did not force-fit your product or service to their need.

A good sales guy wouldn’t hesitate, when he has all the required facts, to tell the customer that his product or service doesn’t quite meet the need of the customer – he may even advise the customer not to buy his product or service.

And yet, how come the good sales guy seems to think of his sales process as being a series of milestones along his engagement with Mr.Prospect? Geofferry James makes a great point of this in a recent article “The Real Truth About Sales Process” where he says

Sales process is not about how you sell but how the customer buys.

That really is spot on.

The customer really doesn’t care about your sales process at all. Or your targets and all the reasons that motivate you to engage with them.

Sales is really about enabling the customer to buy. A good sales guy puts his effort in making sure the customer is able to address their need, he puts his effort behind establishing credibility as a decision enabler – not around a sale achieved at the end of a rigid sales process. A process, which really is very internal to you and your sales team.

If your sales process is too rigid to align to the customers buying process, you have a big problem. As Geoffery says,

…here’s the real truth about sales process: it must be adaptive rather than manipulative.

Make that crucial distinction and your sales process will help, rather than hinder, your sales efforts.

Well said.

It is a private motivation only another sales guy would know, but when it comes to consultative selling, the real joy is not as much in closing a deal as much as seeing the customer look back and feel good about his buying decision. And be thankful that he trusted you.

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  1. Pingback: Sales Process vs. Buying Process / BP3: BP3: Business Process Innovation

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