What is the role of a sales consultant? There are two types. Later we’ll talk about when and why you should hire a sales consultant to help you improve your sales operation. But today we’ll talk about the salesperson, sales representative or sales consultant.
Let me give you an example of a great sales consultant. I’ve mentioned him in the past and now I’d like to give you another scenario of what a strong sales consultant does. In a nutshell, they are a trusted advisor.
Over the past five years my wife and I invested our retirement with a firm that partnered us with Phil as our advisor. Our performance with the firm over that time was fairly reasonable. As with most firms, they take advantage of the market gains while trying to protect their clients when the market becomes bearish. It worked most of the time, but in the last pandemic-driven market slide, we got hurt pretty bad in the bond market and didn’t get back in at the right time.
Phil fell on his sword, apologized, and gave us a detailed explanation of what went down. When Phil decided to venture out on his own, we had some soul searching to do. We had such a strong relationship with Phil, and we were disappointed when he left. But Phil had earned our trust, so we decided to at least give him a chance.
In our “first” meeting, Phil explained his philosophy, that the client always comes first, not his profit. He had proved that the first time. He was showing us – again – that his service mindset set him apart from other financial advisors. It only took an hour for us to decide to move forward with Phil and we feel great satisfaction about our decision.
Based on this experience, I’d like to give you three criteria to master if you want to be a successful sales consultant. Following these tips will help you grow sales, generate more leads and referrals, and improve the bottom line.
First, successful sales consulting is about having humility. It’s always taking ownership for the good and the bad. Phil had no problem owning up to missing the opportunity to get us back in the market earlier. It wasn’t his fault because he was simply following the company’s strategy. Having humility is knowing that no one is perfect and that we all make mistakes. But in life, the best teacher is learning from those mistakes. Sales success comes from experience, and most of our learning moments come from not winning the business.
The second mark of successful sales consulting is having a servant attitude. The Scandinavian root word for sales is “to serve.” When you have the mindset of serving your customers, you are always looking out for their best interest first. When I was a sales leader, I told my people, “I am here to serve you”. I’ve always believed that my success is the culmination of the team’s success. Leaders should be asking themselves, “What do I need to do to make you successful”?
Studies show that people often will leave a company because of the person they report to. Nothing is more stressful than working for someone that doesn’t have your best interest at heart. It makes you feel that you’re not valued and therefore the best solution is to find another job opportunity with a different company. When we put others first, we are more attentive to their needs, and the outcome is a trusting and open relationship where communication thrives. If you ever deal with turnover issues, this is a good area to look to for improvement.
The third characteristic that’s needed to be a successful sales consultant is patience. One thing I have experienced over my years in selling is that patience seems to be getting shorter and shorter. There seems to be a lack of patience for revenue growth, for building a pipeline, and basically for results. Most companies will give their new salespeople a grace period of say six months to be productive. Depending on your company and sector, sales leaders may have to be even more patient, especially with rapidly changing technology and if you have a complex sales process. Without patience, you may lose people with great potential before they’ve had a chance to succeed. Then you’re faced with starting the clock all over again with new salespeople.
When my dad passed away, I had extra money to invest. Immediately we went to Phil to take advantage of the market instead of letting the money sit around. Every investment advisor I know would have immediately taken the money and invested it where they have their newest product. Not Phil. Phil shocked us by saying, “you just lost your dad and I think you need to just reflect on that. Hold onto the money for a little time, and we’ll know when it’s time to invest.” I was shocked. But what Phil did was put my needs of mourning the loss of my dad over investing the money right away. That takes trust and most importantly patience. Phil was focused on me and my needs, not the companies and the benefit of an increased portfolio. Like they say, “patience is a virtue” and Phil has it.
Three characteristics of a great sales consultant – humility, a servant attitude and patience. That’s what Phil has shown as our advisor. Remember no matter what your title, when you’re serving a customer, you are in sales, a most honorable profession!
Good luck with your relationship selling!