salesman with costumer

With a bright New Year approaching, many jan/san distributors are now reviewing their sales and marketing strategies to determine what works and what does not.

However, one proven sales strategy that all too often falls on the floor is consultative selling.

In essence, consultive selling is one friend trying to help another friend deal with a problem, says Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing and packaging at AFFLINK.

If consultive selling is so simple, then why do some distributors decide it doesn't work? In Wilson’s opinion, it is because of the following:

1. The salesperson was not adequately trained in the consultative process.

2. The consultative process is not handled correctly or is inconsistent.

3. The salesperson does not adequately qualify the customer

“Typically, this is uncovered in the advanced research and the 'schmoozing' portion of the [consultative] process,” says Wilson.

4. Some distributors do not feel any incentive to use the process or make it work.

5. The distributor did not plan in advance to address "barriers or objections that may come up in the [consultative] sales process."

However, all of these issues can be addressed, according to Wilson, through more and proper training.

"Distributors should role-play the process,” says Wilson. “Role-playing builds the salespersons' confidence, helping them become more comfortable using this approach in a real-world setting."

For salespeople to be successful in today's sales and marketing world, they may have little choice but to fine-tune their consultative skills.

"Today's customer is not looking for a traditional salesperson,” says Wilson. “They are looking for a consultant, a partner, a guide, and a leader. Proper training in the consultative process can help salespeople fill this role more effectively and with greater success."