Customer Experience News & Trends

Making the switch from ‘just a vendor’ to ‘trusted consultant’

Do your customers see you as nothing more than a vendor, and not as a trusted consultant? If so, here’s how to make the switch.

Business consultants are able to completely internalize their customers’ points of view, producing the following benefits for them:

  • the opportunity to give advice on customers’ high-level decisions and policies that have a long-term impact on future sales
  • the stature to be asked by customers to help evaluate competitors’ newly-released products
  • invitations to cross-sell elsewhere in the organization instead of having to request access.

Eight key indicators

Here are eight key indicators that distinguish business consultants from salespeople:

  1. They manage the sales process. Business consultants look for ways to synchronize the customer’s buying process with their selling process. They start by doing their homework, identifying the key players in the customer’s buying process and making sure everyone involved knows all the issues and concerns.
  2. They build credible reputations. To be successful business consultants, salespeople need to be knowledgeable experts in the eyes of their customers. They establish their own reputations, separate from the organizations they sell for.
  3. They build a solid knowledge base, becoming knowledgeable about the customer’s organization and what they want and need. They put themselves in their customers’ shoes by identifying their market objectives. They go beyond reading annual reports and prior sales figures to become familiar with their customers at every level.
  4. They develop the right solutions, listening to what the customer wants, then educating them about exactly what they need. They ask the right questions to make sure their solutions respond to the customers’ voiced and unvoiced needs.
  5. They present and propose effectively. Busy customers expect salespeople to be able to present well. Business consultants rehearse presentations before giving them, trying to come up with questions prospects may ask.
  6. They manage their time and territories. Just as other professionals need to know how to run a business, a salesperson should be able to step back and take a look at how he or she is doing relative to the organization’s business objectives and his or her own goals.
  7. They maintain and expand their existing accounts by targeting their most profitable accounts. Some salespeople dedicate most of their time to difficult customers, forgetting about the rest because they seem secure. They may lose contact with them, forget their needs, and allow a competitor to come in. Business consultants prosper by selling broadly and deeply into existing accounts.
  8. They close the sale. Business consultants know when it’s time to close the sale. When they see buying signals from the customer, they move to summarize benefits and ask for the order.

Adapted from Strategies that Win Sales by Mark Marone & Seleste Lunsford (Dearborn Trade Publishing). Mr. Marone and Ms. Marone are senior managers for AchieveGlobal with more than 1600 employees across the U.S. and in 40 different countri

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.