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If you asked a group of salespeople about the relationship they want with their clients and prospects, you would hear the phrase trusted advisor. No one would argue against the idea that being a trusted advisor is the high-water mark in B2B sales. Unfortunately, too few salespeople reach this summit, mostly because, despite how much their clients may trust them, they fail to provide valuable advice.

In the third decade of the 21st century, many sales organizations are regressing, treating even the most complex opportunities as transactions. Sales leaders push their teams to speed up an acquisition, even though it’s impossible to go faster than the client.

These same sales leaders have also reverted to a spray-and-pray approach to prospecting, believing that quantity is somehow more important than quality. What's worse is that they teach their teams to believe the solution is the variable when it comes to winning or losing. The truth is that you and your competitors have parity, with everyone being able to help their clients, some a little better, some a little worse.

On the Nature of Consultative Sales

The nature of consultative sales is that you counsel your prospective clients on their problems, how to alleviate their pain points, and what changes they must make to produce the better outcomes that prompted them to begin their change initiative. The average B2B sales rep is more likely to prioritize their company and their solutions, failing to add the advice necessary to become a trusted advisor.

The consultative sales conversation takes a larger view of the prospective client’s problem, starting with the idea that the first problem is the decision itself. It is important to understand that the decision of who to buy from will have little to do with the solution and everything to do with the salesperson’s performance in the sales conversation.

You must recognize that you create value through your conversation about the decision the client is making. Even if you have a great product or service, your conversation should be about the client’s decision. A conversation about your solution fails.

A Focus on Decision Making and Decision Makers

Your sales-champion decision maker has a problem. They are no longer able to produce the results that they were able to in the past, and it is harming their business. This contact is going to be forced to make a change to improve their results. Getting the decision right on the first try is imperative.

You may make it more difficult to win a client’s relationship and their business by singing the joys and praises of your solution. When your competitor does the same, you not only create parity when it comes to your solutions, but you also expose yourself as a commodity when your client needs an expert on their decision.

By prioritizing the decision in your conversation, you project that you can sit next to your client and guide them through the choice they will make soon.

Decision Enablement and Your Obligation

This is a partial list of areas where you have an opportunity to help enable a decision that will ensure your client’s change initiative is successful:

  1. Offering a different perspective: Your experience provides you with a different, more informed perspective. Your contact may be too close to the problem, or they may be stuck with their outdated assumptions. Your perspective can help create a paradigm shift that enables the client to change.
  2. The root cause of the client’s poor results or failures: Because you sell every day, you can recognize why the client is not able to produce the outcomes they need. You should know the client’s problem far better than they do.
  3. Who needs to be included in the conversation: You will help your client succeed by helping them assemble the task force that will eventually weigh in on the decision. By bringing them into the conversation, your client will have better odds of gaining the consensus they need to move forward.
  4. The factors that determine the outcomes: Often, your clients ignore some factors while also over-weighting others, like price. Your advice and your counsel here can help your client get the decision right on the first try. This conversation is valuable for your client, and it also positions you as a better salesperson.
  5. The changes the client must make: It’s easy to recognize a consultative salesperson, as they are certain to tell their client what they must do or stop doing if they want to improve their results on the first attempt. You may find this difficult if the client or their team wants better results without changing how they do things.

The Value of Enabling the Decision versus Your Solution

You are more valuable to your client when you enable their decision-making process. It’s not that your solution isn’t valuable, but it is better to talk about that after you have created value around the decision. You are far more likely to win the deal by having a conversation about the decision instead of your solution. This is why sales leaders should change their approach to one that will allow their sales team to become more consultative.

Leaving this article, you may want to look at how much you do to enable your clients to make a rare decision with the confidence and certainty they need to move their business forward. If you have a team, you would do well to help them understand what creates value in the sales conversation and what doesn’t. If you need help, you can schedule a meeting here.


Sales 2023
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 3, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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