Your role as a consultative salesperson, one who aspires to be their client’s trusted advisor, comes with duties and responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities may be known to you, while others may not be something you have paid much attention to in the past. All of them, however, are necessary.
The shortlist of responsibilities and duties here is necessary in good and bad times. Still, when things are difficult for your clients, it’s more important than ever you recognize your responsibilities to your clients, to the contacts you serve, and to those prospective clients you intend to help in the future.
Responsible to Know
You are responsible for knowing. You have to know the areas where your clients and dream clients are struggling to produce results, a set of theories about why they are struggling, as well as the root causes that need to be addressed. Knowing why your clients or prospective clients are challenged is what allows you to help them make sense of the world in which they find themselves, and one that, at the time of this writing, is on fire.
You are responsible for knowing how to communicate in such a way that you can help your contacts address the issues that are preventing them from the better results they need—now more than ever. The approach you take needs to provide the stakeholders you are trying to serve to engage in an exploration of change, something that can be frightening in good times but can cause much more anxiety in a turbulent time. You must know how to have these conversations without getting too far out ahead of your contacts, causing them to disengage.
You are required to know how to help your clients, and your prospective clients make the necessary changes to improve their outcomes, giving them the advice and competent counsel they should expect from a consultative salesperson. The word consultative means that you are advising your clients about the decisions they should make for their business. For that to be true, you need to be a subject matter expert with the knowledge necessary to provide advice.
Responsible for Care
You must care about your clients. When it comes to sales, caring about your clients and those you wish to become your clients is a variable. Many in B2B sales claim to be consultative who treat complex sales as if they are transactional, going through the motions, but never really invested in the client or their outcomes.
Caring is a type of responsibility. It indicates that the nature of your relationship requires that you are accountable for providing help. During a crisis, many suggest that salespeople stop calling their clients and prospects, not recognizing the responsibility to care. One should not try to help their clients produce better results in good times while depriving them of help when they are struggling.
In an age when there is pressure to behave in ways that treat relationships as transactional, accepting a duty to care is an act of defiance. Much of your success in consultative selling is going to be found in the relationships and the trust you engender when they recognize you care.
Responsible to Try to Help
Not everyone is going to accept the help you offer them. Some are going to refuse your help, even when it is clear they need it, with a few pretending they don’t need your help—or anyone else’s. Others are going to try to find relief from people who would speak to their fears, asking them to make decisions that will not serve them long term but will surely relieve them of their money. The cheap, quick fix always finds proponents. You still have to try.
The responsibility to help sometimes means sharing ideas your client’s need, even if you are not the one to execute them. It also means developing insights and plans before you meet with them, having done the work necessary to share the initiative or project you believe will offer them the most help. Showing up with ideas that help is your responsibility, even if it takes time to gain the traction you need with your clients.
The help you offer should be proactive, not reactive. If your responsibility is to help, you cannot passively wait for your clients to ask you for your help.
Responsible to Persist
There will be clients and prospective clients who refuse your help, who don’t acknowledge you care, and resist what you know would help them improve their business results, the primary outcome we create in sales. The fact that your contacts reject your help doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility to persist, especially if what you would recommend will provide the support your clients need.
You have a responsibility to keep trying, recognizing that it might take time, you might have to change your approach, and you may need to be pigheaded enough to keep asking until you get a yes. Never give up on the contacts you are trying to help, even when they don’t make it easy.
Persistence sometimes means having the same conversation several times before you get your contact’s attention and their willingness to engage. It also means you have to care enough to try, even when it isn’t working.
The right thing to do is always the right thing to do, in good times, and in tricky, turbulent times, when there is much more at stake, and when what you do makes a difference.
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