How to sell value – consultative selling

Forbes just-published ‘Top ten business trends that will drive success in 2015’ leads with the assertion ‘The role of sales people will evolve’.   For those of us who train people in how to sell, this comes as no surprise. The advent and growth of new technologies and business processes create challenges that sales organisations have to address, which inevitably means the role of sales people has to change.

However, the article goes on to say: ‘Savvy customers don’t value old-school, pressure-based, manipulative sales methods,’ which, for us, is a really big surprise.  When you’ve been involved in improving value creating consultative selling skills for decades, it’s hard to believe that ‘old-school pressure-based manipulative sales methods’ are still out there.  But the Forbes piece clearly demonstrates they are.

At a time when the new how-to-sell methodologies talk about ‘insights’ and ‘challenging’ it’s amazing to find some organisations are so far behind the curve that core consultative selling skills are what they need.  It’s hardly new. It’s 40 years since SPIN® Selling Skills, probably the best known and most widely-adopted consultative sales model, emerged, and we continue to research around that model to embrace the ever-changing world of sales; but it seems plenty of people still don’t get it in spite of the 15,000 or more people we train each year. We’ve always known that strong, customer-focused, value-creating selling skills are the key to business success.  Even the newest sales effectiveness strategies need sales people with strong consultative skills to implement them.

The article goes on to say ‘They’ll discover how customers make buying decisions and what you can do to add the most value for your customers. This will lead to better alignment between buyers and sellers and will put both parties on the same side of the table.’

We say; ‘Not a moment too soon’.

How to sell value in 2015?
The same as it’s always been.  A deeper understanding of customer needs and the ability to develop customer value, what some might call old-fashioned solution selling, remain at the heart of business success.  In our world it’s a universal truth.   Those who still believe in the ‘hard-sell’ may at last have had their day.

I’m looking forward to 2015.

Steve Thurlow, Former Business Director for the Manufacturing sector