Stepping Beyond Consultative Sales
Collaborative or consultative selling. What's the difference? Aren't they interchangeable terms? Not really. Collaboration is a step beyond traditional consultative selling. And an opportunity to sell more WITH your buyers.
Consultative selling is a term in use around the globe. And it is effective - a selling methodology and mindset where the seller, acting as a trusted advisor, assists the buyer in identifying needs and offering solutions within their relationship. (This definition is from the glossary at Salesopedia). And we know consultative selling works - we've trained consultative selling skills for over a decade with 5-25% increases in sales in 60 days or less!
But is a consultative approach enough today? Do the buyers in today's economy and demographics want more? I think yes. They want to be a PART of the process and the solution.Selling collaboratively allows for that involvement.
The definition of collaboration is "the act of working jointly." Collaborative selling is working WITH your buyers in a joint process to clarify needs, identifying how the solution you provide benefits them and then navigating through the decision making process. It's a side-by-side process instead of a head-to-head process.
This quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes speaks to collaboration:"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up."
Who knows how much more our buyers can add to the depth of how they use our product/service? They may have ideas for application, usage and implementation that we never thought of! Our buyers are much more informed than they ever were with so much information accessible at their fingertips, 24/7. They have some sort of background, experience or information to bring to the discussion on most topics. And when we can collaborate WITH them and jointly discover needs, wants, challenges and solutions to help them, we build a deeper relationship and a more loyal customer.
Next time you're talking to a buyer or prospective client, involve them as much as you can in the process of selling. Not only will they appreciate being a collaborator in the process, but you may also come out with information that further fuel your selling with other customers.