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Is What You Are Doing Really Consultative Selling?

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
June 5, 2010

Mack Hanan Consultative Selling

Most of us believe that we are consultative salespeople. Forty years ago, Mack Hanan wrote the book on Consultative Selling. What most of us are doing hardly compares to what Mack wrote four decades ago.

Because I am re-reading on a Kindle, I can’t point you to the pages, but Figure 1-1 describes the differences between consultative sales and vending. Here are just a few from a long list of ideas.

“The sellers supply profit as their product vs. The sellers supply product.”

This is the first item on Mack’s list, many (if not most) of us have trouble getting beyond this first test.

“The sellers use a Profit Improvement Proposal vs. The sellers use a bid.”

Most of the proposals we submit come with pricing and more closely resemble a bid.

“The sellers products are improved customer profits vs. The sellers products are equipment, a service, a process, or a system.”

While this is what most of us aspire to, there are many reasons why it is far more difficult to sell improved customer profits, even though we have moved beyond simply selling and are now taking responsibility for achieving outcomes.


For many of us in sales, we use the term consultative selling to mean a soft sell in which we do little in the way of asking for and obtaining commitments. In fact, consultative selling is a much higher standard and, it is far more difficult. Re-reading Mack Hanan’s book is a good reminder that for all the progress we have made over the last forty years, that we still have many miles to travel.


    1. Is what you sell improved customer profits?
    1. Is what you propose a product or a service with features and benefits, or is it a plan to improve profits?
    1. Can you tie an ROI analysis to service issues or softer issues with metrics that are difficult to capture?
    1. How can you bridge the distance between product or service and profit improvement?
  1. Are terms like “consultative selling” and “trusted advisor” used to describe a method of selling in which sales behaviors are avoided? Does avoiding sales behaviors serve our dream clients by making us “consultative” and “trusted,” or is that a set of skills, attributes and behaviors that can exist even if you attempt to obtain commitments?

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 5, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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