Sales representative or consultant?

The role of a sales representative has been regarded, throughout the years, with skepticism from some, astonishment by others and admiration by many.

Let us take a starting point, not without debate: sales are an art and a science. This art has, however, evolved over time. We refer specifically to complex sales processes in a business environment. Technology has changed the way we approach the customer. We live in data science age, therefore it has exponentially augmented the access to relevant information. The levels of demand have, hence, increased.

The commercial strategy must include processes that focus on the customer. Because we no longer live in a time when the brand was at the center. Now client rules.

Salesperson or consultant?

The sales rep must first be a consultant. While not deviating from its commercial function, should work according to client’s requirements, having the technical knowledge to find the most suitable solutions, and also the soft skills to “decode” the real needs. Each client has its own specificities and companies must therefore be flexible, to the point of adapting their solutions to the requirements disclosed. A consultant talks about business, has knowledge, curiosity and interest in talking about the client’s company, its challenges, and doing the homework, showing good preparation. “Congratulations, Mr. Customer, I know you won a quality award this year.” The consultant has to develop a relationship of trust, which is the starting point from a business perspective.

Listening to the customer

Listening to the customer is the most important step of the sales cycle. The effectiveness of active listening will determine the relevance of the solutions presented. Listening shows a real and genuine interest, empathizes and builds trust. It will allow us to summarize what was discussed and, using the client’s words, get to the most appropriate solution.

Knowing how to ask open-ended questions that allow the client to speak freely will make the difference. Shows interest and confirms information. Afterwards, the ability to lead the customer is fundamental. Close the questions, if we want the conversation to be conducted in a certain direction and, also, define rules in advance. At the outset, setting an agenda for the meeting will maintain good time management and expectations. “Mr. Customer, how much time do we have today? Thirty minutes? We’ll start by talking about your business, I’ll ask you a few questions and take notes, okay? Then I will highlight aspects of my service that can respond to your needs and, in the end, we will discuss prices and conditions. If we agree, we will proceed to formalization. What do you think?” Then, if the customer agrees, we are halfway there.

Nurture the relationship

The sales rep sells, while the consultant presents solutions for improving the business performance of the potential customer. The consultant nurtures relationships. Let us not forget that business is made of people. If we know how to listen, present the appropriate solutions and monitor the relationship for the future, we will be able to prolong customer retention. Because the customer experience is largely based on contact between at least 2 persons. You can read more here

The technology

Technology naturally plays a critical role. Nowadays, any CRM helps to manage the contact points and the sales funnel effectively. The client has heard of us or consulted our website, but on our side, we are better prepared. We go to a meeting with a detailed profile without even knowing the person. Everything is much faster and more demanding. Therefore, a salesperson must be a consultant. Selling is an art.

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