Sales Consultants sell money, not products.
They transact returns from investments, not sales. They work inside their customer businesses as partners, not from the outside as vendors. They relate directly to customer line-of-business managers and business function managers, not purchasing agents. They work at these middle management levels on a long-term, continuing basis, not from bid to bid. Their focus is not on competitive suppliers but on competitive profit making for their customer partners and for themselves.
Key account sales representatives who want to penetrate the top customer tier must position themselves to discuss, document, and deliver their answers to the question:
“How much profit will you add?”
To become a profit improvers, sales representatives must understand the consultant mind-set —which is the mirror image of the customer manager mind-set. The customer business line managers and business function managers are concentrated at the level where the funds are.
As profit improvers, you must capture customer managers to act as your “economic sellers” since middle management does not buy. The customers’ managers will help you do your job so that you can help them do their jobs more successfully.
As a mid-level manager, success means always improving your contribution to profits. For a business line manager, it means expanding revenues or increasing margins. For a business function manager, it means reducing costs. And where does the money to do these things come from? It comes from the top management.
As a sales consultant, you must help your customer partners get more funds, and get them more quickly and more surely so that they can increase more revenues and decrease costs.
Consultative sellers succeed or fail based on their ability to ally themselves with their middle management counterparts. They cannot sell without them because mid-level managers sell for them in ways that they cannot. Their alliances are forged on creating a continuous stream of Profit Improvement Proposals (PIPs) for the customer managers to sell internally, thereby obtaining the funds to support the consultative seller’s strategies.
The definition of business partner is therefore the customer manager’s definition: someone who can add incremental value to the manager’s contribution to profits. If you are going to qualify as a consultant partner, you must make yourself incrementally valuable to a business manager. This means that you must deliver at least one the following three types of added value:
1. Add more profits than they would be able to contribute without you
2. Add profits sooner than they would be able to contribute without you.
3. Add profits with greater certainty than they would be able to contribute without you.
Middle management has a concise set of needs:
1. They want money.
2. They want money now — yesterday would have been even better.
3. They want money so that they can make more money with it.
To position yourself as a high-margin’s sales representative, you must be able to prove to the customer managers that you can help them get their hands on the money, that you can help them to get it soon, and that you can supply them with a steady stream of investment opportunities that will enable them to make more money. These are the empowering features and benefits that will make you compellingly partnerable.
In the areas of your expertise, you must know how a customer’s distribution process flows. You must be able to chart it from start to finish.
When you know all their distribution process flows, then you can say that you know the customer’s business as far as the products and markets you affect are concerned. Anything less is vendor selling.
For the purposes of consultative selling, the value you add must become the product you sell. You must become a value-added seller. This means that you must know your “product,” the value that you represent.
Once you have quantified your value, then you will be able to know your most important sales tool: what your added value is worth to your customers.
Your value is worth what customers can do with it — it is a function of how much they get from you, when they get it, and what they do with it. In order to create new worth for your customers, you must therefore get into their business—into their critical lines of business and critical business functions—and help them manage it. You cannot create worth without the customers. Nor can they achieve the added worth that you offer without you.
To magnify the worth of a business, you and your customers need each other. This congruence of need makes you partnerable and a high-margins sales consultant.
To learn the art of Consultative Sales, Contact Magnum Opus at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 011-42676768.