Consultative Selling Process

Consultative selling has been the new buzz word doing rounds in marketing and sales circles. Lawyers and consultants have always been selling their services by consulting. However, this has now been recognized as an important attitude and orientation that every salesman, all business managers and organizations need to possess.

Organizations for long have realized the need to be customer oriented and customer focused in their total approach. Now they have gone one step ahead to practice what is called consultative selling, whereby they engage the customer, get into his shoes to identify the needs and problems and using this knowledge to build solutions that involve the products and services offered by the buyer organization. In this process, the customer and his problems or needs take the first priority over selling the product or service. Secondly everyone looks at the total solution and the product or services being sold become incidental to the solution.

The best examples or case for consultative selling comes perhaps from high tech and software as well as logistics fields. Logistics and supply chains are the backbone of every industry and organizations.

Logistics players have long since realized the need to provide a whole gamut of integrated logistics supply solutions to the clients in order to be effective. Gone are the days when logistics companies were handling particular segment of transportation or trucking etc.

Today’s logistics players or the 3 PL service providers offer all products and services from transportation, customs clearance, warehousing, packing, kitting, semi-assembly operations to distribution, freight management as well as sales order processing and dedicated customer service operations as single window service providers to multinational companies.

3PL companies today no longer sell stand alone products or services in the market. When they talk to a client like Wal-Mart, they talk about doing Purchase order management with Wal-mart’s suppliers in China, India, Mexico and other countries, consolidating freight at each of the countries, shipping, customs clearance at the point of Origin as well as destination right up to delivery, unpacking or warehousing at local distribution center and making just in time supplies to Wal-Mart’s retail locations based on replenishment orders or call offs.

To be able to manage multiple vendors, multiple country locations and ensuring that the documentation, information and reports transmission to all concerned from origin offices as well as to ensure that the shipments are tracked and managed at each leg of the journey while keeping the customer aware of the status at all times, they invest on technology solutions that connect all the offices, branches as well as teams online at all times.

Customized applications as well as dedicated customer service teams manage to ensure that they deliver their commitments as per the agreed timelines and KPIs.

The sales effort for winning this kind of a global account with global operations cannot be done in one meeting or by giving presentation about each product.

  • The 3PL solutions design team headed by the sales manager has got to meet with the client’s team several times, understand the business, the needs, requirements, timelines as well as the cost considerations as well as all other parameters that are required to be met.

  • The solutions design team then works on building a solution that optimizes the freight and meets with the client’s requirements. The detailed solution design takes several weeks of preparations by a team that has expertise of managing supply chain solutions from each country.

  • In fact the solution design will come up with multiple options and solutions or may design different solution for each country taking into consideration local factors that makes the solution unique to each country.

  • The solution design team readies detailed presentations covering various options, details pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of each solution and presents to the customer. Thus the solution design itself becomes the sales process. The selling process is a consultative one.

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