I was reviewing some of the incredible data and science that Objective Management Group (OMG) has on more than one million salespeople when the following caught my eye.
Today, salespeople possess, on average, only 48% of the attributes of consultative sellers.
You read that right–48%
I found this particularly interesting because selling has changed substantially in the last 8 years and one of the biggest changes has been the need for salespeople to differentiate themselves and their product or service offering from the competition. Without differentiation, salespeople will encounter more resistance, more price sensitivity and much lower win rates.
When a salesperson is a consultative seller—asking great questions, doing great listening and identifying the prospect’s compelling reasons to make an initial purchase or move their existing business to them—they are not only creating value for the prospect, more importantly, they become the value. “I don’t know what it is about Jennifer. She just asks great questions when it comes to helping us with our problems. She gets us!” And Jennifer’s value provides differentiation for her because no one else interacts with her customer like she uniquely does.
My experience is that when companies think their sales teams are consultative sellers, they’re usually using the old definition of the term–selling solutions to customers and as discussed above, it’s more than that. Much more. Moreover, the changes in selling brought about by the economic downturn in 2008 have made their version of consultative selling obsolete.