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Transforming Sales Training: From Basic Techniques to Consultative Selling

Discover how evolving from a traditional salesperson to a consultative business advisor can drastically improve your B2B sales success.

Elevating Sales Roles: From Representative to Advisor

Sales organizations should train their salespeople how to sell, but it’s more accurate to say that sales organizations train their salespeople to sell their solution. There are levels to the game of B2B sales, and this limited version of B2B sales training makes poor salespeople. In their attempts to help their salespeople succeed, sales organizations make it more difficult for them to win deals. Most salespeople are trained once, with few opportunities to develop into something more than your average salesperson.

The Challenge of Being an Ordinary Sales Representative

Most salespeople are ordinary average sales reps. These are good people working for good companies, doing their best to help their prospective clients to solve problems. The basic, solution-focused level of training will have the salesperson asking the client about their problem and its impact on their results. When the client confirms that the problem exists, the salesperson will explain how their solution is exactly what the client needs to improve their results.

Most sales organizations and their sales leaders are happy they have salespeople trying their best to sell their solution to their prospective clients. But in our ever-evolving B2B landscape, this ordinary, average sales rep will struggle to win deals because they create too little value in the sales conversation.

This level of development provides the salesperson with one piece of advice to offer their prospective clients: Buy my solution from me and my company. When this is true, the salesperson could be replaced with another salesperson without clients noticing any difference.

Mastering the Fundamentals of B2B Sales

The first B in B2B sales stands for the word business. The second B also refers to business. This ordinary average sales rep has not been taught or trained to be a businessperson. What is worse is that this level will cause the client to recognize the salesperson as transactional. The lack of value creation will often cause the decision maker or buyer to look for help from another salesperson capable of helping them to learn what they need to ensure they succeed. The type of salesperson who can do that is not ordinary or average.

If you want to know why competitors can beat some salespeople, it is because they have worked to develop higher levels of competency. Successful sales reps provide a different experience.

Becoming a Consultative Business Advisor

Not ordinary and not average. Adopting the role of a consultative business advisor finds the salesperson as an expert and authority in their industry. As their experiences stack up, these salespeople work to create value for their clients, they discover the areas where their client needs counsel and advice to be able to move forward with confidence and certainty. While these salespeople are going to sell their client their solution, they don’t focus on the solution. Instead, they focus on the client’s problem and the decisions they will need to make to improve their results and dispatch it.

Anyone who wishes to be something more than the ordinary, average salesperson will need to become a consultative business advisor. If you don’t feel like you are prepared to advise your clients, it is because you have not been trained and taught what to tell them and what they must do to succeed now and in the future.

Assessing Your Progress in B2B Sales

There are a number of levels we can use to illuminate the levels you might fall into and how to move up, should you want to become something more than you are now.

  • Level 1: Your approach is to build rapport, ask about the client’s problem, and offer your solution as the right decision. This level is transactional. As the tech folks work to allow people to buy using e-commerce, your clients may have little need for you.
  • Level 2: You have gained experience that allows you to recognize your client’s problems without having to ask your client about them and their implications. This level will require you to see the patterns that recur over time and move you up a notch.
  • Level 3: You are able to recognize the areas where your clients lack information, experience, and insights. As you are able to understand what your contacts need, you may start providing your counsel and advice.
  • Level 4: At this level you are a consultative business advisor. You have greater knowledge and experience about your client’s decision than they do. You are leading your client, ensuring they learn what they need to be able to produce strategic outcomes. We can describe this level as being One-Up.

One who is at level 4 is likely to beat a level 3, and the level 3 is likely to beat a level 2, who will beat a level 1. Each of these levels create a mismatch, with the lower levels struggling to win deals when competing with higher levels.

Take Proactive Steps in Sales Development

Sales organizations that want net new revenue will need to develop their sales teams to move up by becoming a consultative salesperson, one who is more business advisor than ordinary salesperson. If you are a salesperson, you don’t have to wait to develop yourself by doing the work to understand how to apply your knowledge and your experience.

Before you leave this article, identify where your sales team is on this scale and what you might need to do to level them up. An individual reading this should identify what level they are at currently and what they need to do to become something more than just a salesperson.

Succeeding in B2B sales is individual. The sooner you take your development into your hands, the sooner you will find success in sales. Do good work and level up.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 27, 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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