If there isn't enough sales jargon and terminology out there already there appears to be enough jargon and unique dialect with way too many acronyms, don't you wish that they'd just speak plain English?
Perhaps you are a recruiter and have been asked to search for a top sales professional for your organization. Fair enough. That is pretty basic. Just as you're all set to click send, the requestor has specified they want someone who is a "consultative" sales person competent in "solutions" sales.
Huh? What's the diff you say? Aren't they all just sales reps? That would be like saying all Olympians are the same. Hardly.
Consultative sales is a sales approach from professionals who have the knack of assembling participation from the customer by involving them and their team to get at the heart of their biggest issues that are preventing them from being more effective and/or efficient.
Consultative Selling: is a sales process by which the customer's end users, managers, executives are interviewed and provide information on matters affecting them.
Solution Selling: Is a form of sales whereby you are solving those same problems.
This form of sales is usually employed when their is a high value investment in the sale or service that is stake.
A consultative sales professional is adept at researching for opportunities in the name of prospects by being an authority on not just their product or service, but also how that same product or service solves problems.
Very few organizations wait until an object breaks down, or its service warranty expires before it begins to investigate what is the best new item available out there that they can buy. Typically, they have a budget set aside and start out by looking to find what can fit into this budget.
There are sales reps or organizations who don't demand much from their reps or can be snowed that activity classifies as results. Then there are sales consultants. You call them and ask them to give them a price for this widget or that service. But hold on here, instead you got yourself a sales consultant. This person is asking a number of questions that are irritating enough because you don't have even half of the answers.
Dutifully, you go back to the Boss with the list of questions, thinking they'll be on your side, and be more effective at blowing off this rep with a smoother "just gimme the price" rebuff. Instead, they scratch their heads a bit and admit that there are a few items that weren't considered so let's schedule a meeting and see if that will help get the answer quicker.
D-Day arrives. You escort the poor sales rep to the board room where the chopping block is hidden from view. You can't wait to see mince meat made outta the soul who questions your boss.
Very few niceties exchanged about the weather, the sports team, but the consultative sales person is calm and you sense confidence that you wouldn't have thought to be there.
Calmly the consultative sales professionals shares some of the research on the organization and asks for confirmation or expansion on those facts. You have a hard time believing it but your Boss isn't his gruff self, but is pulling up his chair to the table a little bit closer and paying attention.
You blink a few times in wonder. The consultative sales professional is asking questions that have nothing to do with the widget that they're being asked to price on. Questions like what will it be used for? What has been used in its place until now? How has that worked? What would you change if you could? What problems does it cause you when the widget breaks down? Who is impacted by this? How long are you out of operation for? How long does it take for the widget to be fixed? Who fixes it? Do you have a warranty or any SLA (Service Level Agreement) in place with the widget seller that promises it would be fixed in the evening or on weekends?
Your boss is smiling, being agreeable. What the heck? I'm confused while they're both relaxed and even appear to be on the same page.
The consultative sales professional asks the boss if they would be allow to do a bit more digging to find out some of these answer for them. That ought to be the catch, I smell ka-ching. But no, the consultant says that in order to make the right recommendation and ensure the right widget is chosen, they would like to speak to some of the end users (huh? why the heck ....) on how they use the widget, when they use it, what happens when it breaks down, and what they would wish for in a new widget.
Man oh Man. Not one word on price .... yet! What's that? Did I just hear that right? The Widget Man (aka sales consultant) has just had the Boss agree to allow the Widget Man to meet with key people on his staff to interview them and ask the same questions themselves.
Oh oh, the Boss slowly turns his eyes to zero on me. What did I do? I'm writing notes I indicate by motioning to my pad and pen. I'm asked to schedule these meetings for Widget Man with IT, Finance, and Mr. so on and Ms. so forth ... the folks that use the widget we're replacing.
Scrambling for my Day Timer, I lift my eyes that are almost popping out of my head to see what the Boss'll say to that: the Widget Man just asked the Boss to send out an email or memo to the same folk he calls "end users" stating that Widget Man will be meeting them to ask them questions on their use of Widget that they are considering replacing.
The Boss is smiling agreeably when the Widget Man says they will meet to review the results and come up with a plan "together".
Huh? No price, no proposal was even discussed.
"The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well."
~John D. Rockefeller