Businessman looking at two doors

We all have choices — lots of them. Customers and prospects choose who they will work with, and their choices speak volumes about you and your approach to selling.

Customers tell us that they want:

  • A salesperson that can share insights into their company's problems (94 percent)
  • To work with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor and adds value to their business (79 percent)

However, only one in three B2B executives believe that salespeople understand their business and offer outcome-based solutions.

It's ironic. Customers have access to more information than they've ever had — yet they crave insights. They desperately need someone to help them make sense of all the information, trends and unprecedented supply chain disruptions. They don't need technical specifications or product information — they can get that with a few clicks. They need insight. Customers want to work with salespeople who are trusted advisors.

How did we get here? Consultative selling skills have not kept pace with changing customers. Most salespeople now lack the consultative skills necessary to focus on business outcomes and become trusted advisors. They may have the technical know-how and product knowledge, but rarely do they have strong consultative selling skills. The research shows that over 85 percent of salespeople have a weak consultative selling competency.

Customers are frustrated and don't have time for peddlers. As a result, they split salespeople into two groups: trusted advisors and everyone else. How do they decide? It's simple — "You will be sent to the room that you sound like you belong in."

Transactional: You belong in the transactional room if you talk about your company, its products and services, and make a proposal. If you can't have a customer conversation without mentioning a product or your company, then you are transactional. Your sales tend to be price-oriented and you are rarely in the C-suite.

Trusted Advisor (Business-Outcomes): If you're comfortable discussing your customer's business, know the things that keep them up at night without asking, and can provide insights to improve their business, then you belong in the business outcome room.

If you aren't sure which room you're in, you are probably in the transactional room. Transactional selling works when you have the lowest price or a one-of-a-kind product. The problem is, only one company can have the lowest price or one-of-a-kind product, and it's probably not you.

Most of us don't have the lowest price and aren't selling a one-of-a-kind product. We have to sell consultatively. Your success depends on asking a lot of questions, uncovering business problems, issues, consequences, emotions and providing a solution.

Transactional salespeople (peddlers) are not having as much fun as they used to. Consultive sellers are successfully navigating supply chain disruptions and price increases. They are enjoying double-digit growth.

You have the same choice as your customer. Which room would you like to be in and how are you going to get there?

Jim Peduto is the Managing Partner and the co-founder of Knowledgeworx, LLC. Owners and CEOs rely on Jim's strategic thinking and transformational growth expertise to win market share and achieve performance gains.