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Trusted Consultant or Product Guru? Which Are You?

Posted on: February 21st, 2013 by Monika No Comments

When salespeople with traditional training (or none at all) start struggling, I have witnessed far too often that they tend to become overeager, focused even more so on the features and benefits of their service offering/product (or what I like to call the “bells and whistles”) rather than focusing on building relationships with their prospects and actually discovering what their prospects’ needs really are. This approach is encouraged and fostered by far too many sales leaders who often still believe that their customers need to be convinced and “sold to” by the “Product Guru”. Sound familiar?

Aside from the fact that nobody wants to be sold to, we also need to understand that in today’s business environment every piece of information can be googled or researched using all the technology available. We can use apps to find out what song is currently playing or to settle disagreements of any sort, and to look up almost endless amounts of information.
It’s no different in a business environment. Before salespeople step into a meeting, your prospect has the ability to research your company, your service offering, your competition and many other aspects they feel important in making a decision.

“Flirting with the Uninterested”?

My dear friend and former client, Maria Ferrante-Schepis (one of the most innovative and interesting women I have the pleasure to be acquainted with, and an expert in the financial services industry) recently launched her book “Flirting with the Uninterested”.

Here’s a link to the book: http://flirtingwiththeuninterested.com

A must read for people in the insurance field, but also really intriguing for business people in general. Maria was a heavyweight in the insurance industry, her experience includes positions as VP of Marketing at Prudential and CMO at The Guardian. Today, Maria works for a former client of mine, an Agency of Innovation based in Chicago. Maddock-Douglas helps their clients bring industry-changing products, services and business models from mind to market.

And here’s is a quote from her book that I personally like a lot:

  • Consumers have FAR less time for a pitch but plenty of time to surf the Web for what they are interested in.
  • Consumers must see/perceive some value in what you have to offer BEFORE they will even listen to you. They are way too busy to listen to a cold call.

Good news for Salespeople!
Ms. Ferrante-Schepis then goes on to point out that salespeople are used as a validation.

This should be really good news to salespeople who truly understand the science & art of selling, those of you who truly listen to your prospects, understand who your prospects are and build rapport, and, lastly be able to demonstrate value for your clients.

In essence, it’s the human connection is what weighs in the balance. Building relationships with your prospects, finding out who they are, what they really need and want, building trust and creating a solution that is of value to them. And if you really dig deep, you might be able to help your client in ways they did not even think possible. You can become a trusted adviser, your client’s consultant, a thought leader who will lend an ear to your prospect in truly trying to understand their needs, help them grow their business, secure their future and be of real value to their clients. That’s the World of Consultative Selling!

So, Life Insurance is Not Just Life Insurance!

Let’s take life insurance, for example. Is it solely an insurance to help the people you leave behind have a secure life? Everybody has a life and nobody would want their family to be without assets once they are gone. Of course, that’s a simplistic way of looking at it, but if it was that simplistic nobody with available funds would go without it, right?
Life insurance, just like many other product/service offerings will soon become a commodity if salespeople don’t learn to not only build rapport with their prospects but, most importantly, learn to create value in their prospects’ eyes. Why? Because today, you can purchase most anything, including life insurance on an ever-widening range of websites.

And if salespeople don’t provide more value than a computer screen than why would people choose to work with them? Because in the end, most people still prefer to buy from other people BUT only if they believe their needs are truly understood and they’re the best solution for them.

The Trusted Consultant

There really is no need to push features or point out competitive advantages unless it represents something of value to your prospect. In order to be competitive and ahead of the curve, salespeople will need to understand that selling doesn’t mean that you need to convince somebody of something that they don’t like or need.

As a sales professional, you have the unique opportunity to become a trusted adviser and to guide your prospect through a decision making process that makes sense for them.

Whether you sell or logistics solutions, life insurance, cars, heavy equipment or high-tech services this philosophy holds true. Becoming a thought leader, being an adviser, a consultant, building trust and creating value are key elements to a successful sales career in this new, information driven business environment.

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