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The Consultative Mindset

19 Feb, 2010 By: Rob Gilbert imageSource

The Consultative Mindset

With a new year underway to allow new opportunities to create successes in
your territory or marketplace, it’s important to look at behaviors that will
drive positive results for your salespeople and organization.  An overriding
issue that faces today’s sales force is how to drive profitability in a hurry,
but still be consultative in their sales approach.  Because of the way sales
quotas and territories are set up, sales people almost always start out behind
the eight ball in terms of becoming productive and profitable in a short period
of time.

Because sales reps are paid largely on commissionable earnings, they
obviously want to churn deals quickly because that’s how they are measured
relative to productivity, and that’s how they eat.  This becomes part of the
challenge with building a team of true sales consultants.  The two philosophies
seem to contradict each other.  How, then, can both tasks be accomplished?  The
answer lies in driving the correct activities necessary to support a healthy

Hardware placement has become only a portion of a solution based offering for
many dealerships in recent years.  Most manufacturers and / or dealerships offer
print management strategies, document management, forms management, scanning
technologies, business process improvement processes, and the like.  Each
offering involves a separate level of product knowledge yet often a specialist
can only focus on the overall marketing aspects of a particular business unit.
This can be a curse for an unorganized sales person, but a blessing to a rep
that has learned to gain a basic understanding of a wide array of topics to
engage moving the sales process forward in different areas.

The best way I have found to accomplish this is by maintaining a high enough
level of activities in each phase of a sales process to generate a healthy
pipeline of opportunity. These aspects of the sales process are all
inter-related. In order to build a healthy pipeline that incorporates different
hardware / solutions / MPS and business process opportunities, a salesperson
must be consultative and able to articulate the concepts of a complete range of
product offerings.

In order to be consultative one must be able to be emotionally unattached
from the sales process and be able to constantly assess a situation
objectively.  In order to remain unattached emotionally, a rep must understand
which set of activities are needed over a given period of time that will yield a
particular set of opportunities within a certain timeframe of potential closure
that they can affect.

Management’s key responsibility is to help sales reps identify their high
payoff activities and manage proper levels of activity that will drive an
abundance of opportunities, and that may then be properly worked with the
knowledge that  because there are significant numbers of potential sales, proper
consultative time can be taken with each one.  As reps take the time needed to
assess and provide true solutions to their prospects, profitability will
increase, pipelines will increase, and product mix will be much healthier. 

Tools to Assist You

CRM / Sales Automation Tool -Managers and reps need to be able to track
account activities and progress so they can find opportunities. It helps reps to
stay organized.

Income Planner – Understanding the sales reps income goals will help you
form-fit  activities to their plan & help them achieve.

A Sales Repository – Area where reps can view case studies, gather product or
sales related information, company updates, equipment lease pricing, and so on.

Product Specialists – Not a tool so much as a thought process, having
specialists for things like MPS, Software sales, Business Process Improvement,
Wide Format, etc.,

Sales Dashboard / Activity Tracker -  Create competition among the sales
staff for healthy measurement or progress in key areas.  This will allow them to
measure themselves and their progress against a standard.

Rob Gilbert, Sr. has 23 years experience in the office  industry;
implementation of CPP programs to sales & management training & consulting
including MPS program setup. Contact him at:

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