This is a causal factor of sub-optimal performance, which outranks rampant competitor discounting, on-line intrusions and leakage, the omnipotence of substitute products and services and a decided lack of customer and client loyalty.
In business-to-business scenarios too many company representatives are currently identified to be and dismissed as "time wasters". The individuals are typically affable, courteous, ready to discuss the weekend sporting results and their latest achievements on the golf course. They are inevitably up for a good cup of tea or coffee. Sadly, few or none contribute to sales, profitability or productivity of existing and prospective clients.
When finally, like Elvis Presley, they leave the premises it is apparent to all who are left that there was no request for a sale or a contribution submitted to develop business, for mutual benefit.
Well, yes. That is all true. However, the representative who vacated the scene did so with his or her ego intact, not being "damaged" by rejection or failure! Hardly a measure of success.
Little wonder that management is so often advised by that same representative that it is increasingly harder to secure appointments with "difficult" clients who simply don't make themselves available.
Professional representatives are distinguishing themselves by formulating and presenting specific, client benefits during their contacts.
Inter-firm comparisons and analyses of individual performance levels for particular products, services and categories are usually welcomed, beneficial and income-generating.
Few, if any clients or their staff members will be totally familiar with an entire product range of a supplier or distributor. Therefore, appropriate education during visits can and will stimulate enthusiasm, sales and purchases.
EARN NOT ASK
In life and in business, it is better to give than it is to receive. It is a sound philosophy for all representatives. The more they give to clients in terms of ideas, insights, suggestions, care, attention and time the more orders they will receive.
At the conclusion of each visit to a client and customer it should be mandatory for each representative to undertake a critical and objective evaluation of just what they offered in the contact.
Manufacturers, distributors and agents have at their disposal invaluable information and data which can be insightful and beneficial to each client. Sharing such in a respectful manner fosters confidence, loyalty, preference and motivation. Today, information and sharing these is all powerful.
Consultative selling is a much prompted philosophy which is, regrettably, poorly implemented.
Consulting is a widely practised art-form. It influences, provides differing perspectives and can be instrumental in enhancing performance standards.
Professional consultants do not sell products or services. Their expertise and experiences are sought, used and happily paid for because their input is valued and valuable.
Hence, the input offered can be and is processed internally, to effect incremental output. As a consequence, products and services are bought, not sold.
Accordingly, appropriate and astutely deployed "consultative selling" opens opportunities rather than closes sales.
An integral component of the philosophy is the need to invest sufficient time in the relationship for there to be ongoing value accorded to the clients and customers. Time is the differentiating element between marketing and selling.
True and good consultants value their own time and that of their clients. Appointments are made, specific time allocated and desired outcomes outlined at the outset of meetings.
That is a refreshing and welcomed philosophy, so different from statements like:
"My name is Kevin, I'm from Queensland, represent the government and I'm here to help."
Sadly, all too often they help themselves to time, revenue and resources. That is not consultative.
The mark of a good consultant and representative is the ability to ask succinct questions and to listen. In fact, the ratio of words spoken by a consultant/representative to those heard should be around 1:5.
Interestingly, the more one listens, the more one learns and therefore, the greater one is able to share and to benefit others. It is a valuable adjunct to specific product knowledge.
Active listening is a skill set that enhances the worth of a representative in the field. Recognition of one's capacity for active listening facilitates the securing of a more, productive appointment.
I'm sold on the idea. I hope you will be too!