January 17, 2024

Could this be why your salespeople aren't being consultative...?

Getting sales teams to convert from being transactional to consultative continues to be one of the biggest challenges organizations face, especially with the ongoing pivot towards subscription, or platform-based, models.

Organizations who fail to make this transition stand to lose big time. According to Saleforce’s annual State of Sales Report, 79% of business buyers agree, it’s easier than ever to take my business elsewhere. Yet at the same time, 78% of business buyers seek a trusted advisor that adds value to their business, not just a salesperson.

The current solutions to fix weak consultative behaviours continues to be training, training and more training. Specifically consultative training programs for customer-facing reps. There are a lot of options out there and I am one of them BUT even with these training programs, many reps don’t seem to be breaking out of the transactional sales approach. What’s going on here because all of us trainers are convinced that our programs are amazing and fantastic?

To properly answer this, we should be looking at the overall sales ecosystem.

Consider the internal working environment of many sales organizations. Guess what, they are mostly transactional! Ask a typical sales rep what their sales manager talks to them about on a weekly basis. The answer is usually something like, are you on target to hit your numbers? When is this deal coming in? How big is this deal that you’ve committed to bring in? Transactional behaviour.

How do sales reps usually get comped? Commission for bringing in deals usually on a quarterly structure. Again it’s transactional. How does the sales team interact with other business units? It is often infrequent, awkward and lot’s of one-off conversations. Transactional.

People sell in the style of where they work. If you’ve got a transactional workplace, you’re going to get transactional salespeople.

Feel free to keep hiring me and other trainers to drive home the core consultative tools. That is certainly a part of the solution, but until the sales ecosystem is upgraded, these transactional behaviours will likely continue.

Ask yourself, are we working in a consultative selling environment or a transactional environment? If so, here are areas to consider: planning iterative steps to make this organization-wide change:

Mindset Shift:

  • Begin by fostering a mindset shift within the company. Emphasize the value of understanding client needs, building relationships, and offering solutions rather than simply completing transactions.

Improved cross-functional collaboration:

  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect consultative success, such as client satisfaction scores, repeat business, or referrals.

Leadership and sales training

  • In addition to group programs, I’ve found reviewing recorded calls (if available) as well as ongoing role-playing experiences help change behaviors. Training should be ongoing.

Changing organization's mindset is not easy and it takes a long time. This requires planning and executing iterative steps to make organization-wide change. I enjoy working with people like Joe Lombardo who help drive company-wide behavior change. When you combine a corporate growth mindset with customer-centric selling, the results will speak for themselves.

There is no doubt the business world continues to move towards consultative relationships. What is your organization doing to ensure you aren't being left behind?  

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