To be successful in sales, you must learn to become an ag equipment consultant in your community. Move away from the “good ol’ boy” iron peddler image to the newer, more sophisticated player demanded by the newer, more sophisticated customer. The ag equipment consultant is part of the new generation of consultative sellers who bring what I call “surprise added value” to their customers.
What exactly is consultative selling? It is seldom properly explained. The most common explanation is that it is becoming a consultant to your customer. However, this can happen even when you do not do consultative selling. This is what most salespeople want. The thing that most commonly brings great joy to a salesperson is when the customer regards you as his consultant, when the customer calls you first.
Do what consultants do. If you really want to be a consultative salesperson, you must do what consultants do. Start with a genuine concern for your customer. All salespeople say they care about the customer, but few prove it by their continuous actions. Salespeople are the most politically correct people in the world. They say all the right things. This is why you should pay more attention to their behavior than their words.
The consultative salesperson wants to keep his customer in business and grow his business. You stay in business when your customer stays in business and you grow when your customer grows.
You should not be afraid to highlight problems. Many salespeople may feel uncomfortable bringing up problem areas because the customer might get mad. But why should he get mad at you? You did not create the problem. You’re trying to help him solve it. Consultative salespeople not only highlight problems, they rub the customer’s nose in it. If the problem will hurt the customer’s business, there is no point in trying to gloss over it or, worse, not mentioning it. The clearer the customer can see the problem, the more he will work with you to resolve it. It’s your job to help him.
The four-step approach. When doing consultative selling, you forget about products and services and instead take this four-step approach:
1. Find the problem.
2. Find the solution.
3. Sell the idea of the solution.
4. Present the solution.
This is a straightforward approach to engage your customer. If you cannot find the problem, either one does not exist or you are not probing properly.
You do not have to have a complete solution to be of use. Often, even a partial solution may suffice. But never pre-sent the solution without first selling the customer on the idea of the solution.
Present the solution through the eyes of the customer. Remember, it’s not what you want. It’s what the customer wants. The consultant’s job is not to tell the customer what to do. It’s to find out what the customer wants and then show him how to get it.
The difference. The major difference between being an iron peddler and a consultative salesperson is that the iron peddler wants to sell equipment so badly, he sees only his side of the story. The consultative salesperson looks through the eyes of the customer. He sells ideas and gives advice. In this way, he also sells equipment, but he sells far more than the iron peddler does.
You’re on the same side. Because the consultative salesperson is concerned with the welfare of the customer, he does not sit on the opposite side of the table. He sits on both sides: He is on the side of the customer in that he wants to make sure the customer stays in business and grows his business. He also sits on the dealer’s side of the table, knowing he must get fair compensation for his time and work.
More than anything else, becoming a consultative salesperson requires a change of thinking. The thinking needs to be “How can I help my customer do better business using my equipment?” as opposed to “What can I sell the customer today?” This can mean the difference between reaping superstar commissions and just moseying along the road of
average earnings. Which do you want?