At Commonwealth Growth Strategies, we specialize in helping companies increase their revenues and profits. Our skills and experience in consulting from a “big picture” point of view have always been key factors in our clients’ strategic growth.
Yet if you think about it for a moment, this is no different from than virtually all good salespeople do every day. We strongly believe that good sales directors are expert consultants in their own right.
Most people would agree that the best way to gain or retain an account is to provide them with meaningful solutions to their problems. If you don’t, certainly your competition will. But for you to do this, you have to step back and look at the broad picture. Taking a wide spectrum view of your prospect’s or customer’s issues, concerns or priorities is essential; it is at the “bull’s eye” of consultative selling.
Distilled down to its essence, big picture consultative selling requires that a salesperson focus on four key activities. You need to:
1. Determine exactly what is important to your customer. What are their needs and wants?
2. Uncover how your particular services or products can meet their expectations.
3. Ensure that you gain some measure of access to the actual decision maker(s).
4. Demonstrate to key influencers that you can “ease their pain” or solve their particular issues.
It sounds simple but it isn’t. Historically, many salespeople tend not to operate this way. Unfortunately, it is common to presume a need that may not be important, miss a top priority or do a spotty job of determining what a customer really wants. In the end, it can all end up being that cliché of “a hammer looking for a nail.”
Owners and senior executives are the ones who either make or authorize the big decisions. They control expenditures and are generally driven by both value and bottom line. When you’re not working directly at the top, you may hear your contact say that they will make the decision and it will be “rubber stamped” by the boss. Clearly, this is not always true.
One way or the other, you need to have the decision makers understand the real value to them of your solution. So if you are going to reach them, you have to act like the principal of your own consulting firm and bring to them the resources and specific expertise with which that can relate. They expect you to know their business well enough to understand their needs. When you do, this will cement your credibility with them.
Even though it might not always seem like it, decisions makers look to you as a “solution” consultant, not the representative who has only “features and benefits” to offer. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t spend any time with you. Remember, executives at this level basically use this simple equation: The Right Solutions + Competitive Price + No Pain = The Sale
Particularly with the larger prospects and customers, you may have to go high, wide and deep with them to get in front of the right people. You need to go up as high as possible on their power ladder. Of course, this is easier said than done. Sometimes, there is the real risk that too strong an effort could backfire. Nevertheless, as hard as this can be, you have to make a serious effort.
Going wide is easier but just as crucial. Calling on managers from different departments and divisions can open many doors and put things into proper focus and priorities. These people can be key buying influences. Going deep, from top to bottom, will get a better picture of your prospect’s challenges, and therefore, a better idea of how to meet them.
In summary, your strategy and tactics have to be shaped by your need to find the “big picture” person in the organization. You must make sure that your offering will meet his or her expectations and provide the solutions that they are seeking.