P3: Consultative Selling – Customer Partnerships

P3: Consultative Selling – Customer Partnerships

In Part 1, consultative selling was defined as partnering with customers to improve their profits and competitive advantage within their industries. In Part 2, positioning ROI, payback and certainty was discussed in the context of how customers decide whether or not to invest in the consultative seller’s product or service. Part 3 will outline what makes a good customer partner, what it means to understand the customer’s business and how to build relationships with customers for continuous profit enhancement opportunities.

What Makes A Good Customer Partner? Because consultative selling involves improving profits and competitive advantage, both customers and sellers must be in the same business. They must be partners and have the same goals. Good customer partners: want to grow, they want you to grow them and the growth needed is within your capabilities and performance benchmarks. By improving the customers’ business and profits, the consultative seller proves their value add and is paid for performance through full margin sales (price is an investment, not a cost).

What Does It Mean to Understand the Customer’s Business? To grow the customer’s business, you must know it. Knowing the customer means understanding their critical business issues (CBIs). CBIs are the 20% of challenges or opportunities that impact 80% of the organization’s immediate future. Challenges include better positioning the customer against their competition. Opportunities include understanding the customer’s customers and improving profits by increasing revenue or reducing costs. You are not selling products, you are solving business problems.

How to Build Relationships with Customers for Continuous Profit Enhancement Opportunities? Consultative sellers earn the right to be the customers’ trusted advisor when they consistently improve profits and competitive advantage (add value). When that happens, customers continually provide the consultative seller with new opportunities to improve the business and secure dollars to fund subsequent PIPs. Instead of transactions, consultative sellers create a portfolio of ongoing projects, which locks in the partnership and locks out the competition.

All contents copyright © 2012, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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