Consultative Selling Is a Lie!

April 28, 2012 by  Filed under: Sales 

It is a somewhat provocative title, I know, but it did grab your attention, right?

I come across quite some salespeople that claim to be ‘consultative sellers’ or even worse: ‘advisers’. I always wonder who they are trying to fool; themselves, the customer or both.

What is your job?
What is your job as a salesperson? Right, selling the products and services your employer wants you to sell. That is how you make a living. Are you being paid for giving the client objective advice? Or for listening to the client, evaluating his needs and problems and then give the names of your competitors who have the best solution?

Of course not! Your job is to sell YOUR products and services. Every salesperson will try to fit his products into the needs of the customer and if that is impossible, he will try to alter the needs to make a fit anyway.

True consultative selling.
It would be truly consultative if you have a product that fits your prospect’s needs but at the same time you know that one of your competitors has an even better product, or the same for a lower price and you advice your prospect to go to that competitor. Who does that, honestly?

And guess what; your prospect or customer knows this as well and he doesn’t expect anything different. He knows that your are there to sell your products and not the products of your competition.

I hear salespeople say: ‘I have advised prospects and clients on different occasions to get in touch with a competitor!’ I believe you. I have done the same. But we only do it when we come to the realization that we won’t close a deal here anyway. It can be because of the price or that we don’t have the product or service he is looking for or we have delivery problems, etc.. In those cases it is just smart to help out. At least you make a great impression, build some rapport and enlarge your chances to do business in the future. In other words: nothing lost and an opening created.

If we give the customer advice into another direction then towards our company, products and services, we usually have OUR best interest in mind. And that is fine. As long as we have a basic level of integrity and don’t try to sell something we know the customer absolutely can’t use, there is nothing wrong with promoting our products.

Don’t try to sell sand to the Bedouins or ice to the Inuit. Your selling skills are awesome if you can do that. Your integrity and attitude on the other hand suck.

As long as there is a chance to close a deal, no salesperson in his right mind will ‘consult’ the prospective buyer to the competition. Sales is an honest profession. Why do we want to hide what we are here for? Get rid of those dumb expressions like ‘consultative selling’ and ‘Sales Adviser’.

‘But I ask questions to investigate what the customer’s needs and desires are and then I use my expertise to find a product to fulfill those needs and desires. That is consultative selling, right?’

Wrong, I’m afraid. That is just how it should be in every sales process. Unless you can honestly say that you will advice your customers always towards the best solution, even if it isn’t yours, it is just sales.

Stop fooling yourself. You have stopped fooling your customer a long time ago already.

Happy hunting!

Succinct Inc. is an Ontario based organization specialized in tailor-made training programs for sales and management. Succinct also provides Online Assessments that can be a tremendous help for all HR practitioners while hiring new employees or making the right choices in an employee’s development.

For more information:

Kees Scheffel.

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