One of the biggest privileges I have as The Phone Lady is listening to my clients’ conversations. It’s amazing to be trusted with such an intimate task.
This allows me to fully customize my training and coaching, and supports my ability to produce desired results quickly. It also reveals trends in sales communication. One such trend has recently “caught my ear”. It is causing a lot of frustration for sales teams in every industry and leaving a wealth of lost opportunities in its wake.
What is this trend? Is it impacting your revenue? What’s the solution?
The foundation of excellent sales communication and a successful sales process is knowing which sales approach best applies to your product or service. Will your company thrive by embracing transactional selling, or is consultative selling the best approach?
Simply put, transactional selling is about the numbers. We are all very familiar with this approach; we experience it frequently. It arrives in our inbox from companies who want to provide everything from website design to improving our SEO to helping us create online courses. In many cases, the company behind this communication knows nothing or very little about us. They have assessed our online activity and statistics that indicate we might be a valid prospect, and they add us to their “lists”. It’s very much a numbers game. Who they sell to doesn’t matter as much as making the sale and then … making another sale.
We even experience this with companies we’ve chosen to trust, such as our cellphone, cable and health insurance providers. Yes, they do know more about us than the companies that fill our spam folders, but they also build churn (the rate at which customers stop doing business with a company) into their sales process. Whether we are their customer for a year or a decade doesn’t impact how they treat us because … it’s all about the numbers.
Consultative selling, while certainly focused on creating revenue, relies on building trust and relationships. Contracts and invoices are achieved by sharing knowledge, providing personal support and fully matching a customer’s needs with the value of the product or service. It’s usually not a fast sales process but the effort and time result in long-term clients and a wealth of referrals.
What’s the trend I’ve noticed?
An increase in companies anxiously using a transactional sales approach for a product or service that requires a consultative sales process. They are spilling out information about themselves by email, advertising and fast-paced conversations without researching, asking or discussing what their individual prospects need, want or desire.
The result? Frustrated salespeople, high turnover of staff, discouraged entrepreneurs, unhappy clients and, of course, a stuttering cash flow that creates maximum stress.
What’s the solution?
The first step is identifying if:
- your product or service can continually find new customers;
- your product or service is so easy to use or maintain, there’s little need for either education or support;
- a consistent churn rate is built into the revenue model and is not a concern.
When these statements are true, a transactional sales approach is viable.
A consultative approach is essential if your product or service requires:
- a detailed understanding of how your customer works or lives;
- the input and approval of more than one person;
- the sharing of knowledge and education with the customer, as well as ongoing support; and
- the potential of working with the customer long-term, providing more than one product or service.
Consultative selling requires excellent communication skills and a sales process that allows for detailed conversations – so both customers and prospects can share their needs, concerns and expectations. This series on storyfinding details the high-level communication skills needed to excel in consultative sales.
Unsure if your sales approach is the right fit for your target market? Need support in creating your consultative sales process? I’d be honored to talk to you about it. Here are several options to get in touch or you can simply pick up the phone and call me at 1.877.404.3290.
2 thoughts on “How Are You Selling?”
very good article. I imagine most senior managers would prefer the consultive selling technique but may not be providing the tools to their staff, so transactional selling takes its place
Thanks, Scott. Yes, I believe you are right. A lot of teams are left without the necessary tools to analyze and alter their sales approach. Even listening to calls as a learning exercise and to monitor improvement is often not a common sales training activity.