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Consultative Sales - 7 steps to hire the right people

Consultative sales people don’t like to talk and they usually are not the best golf players, either. They are good listeners, they understand the challenges in the marketplace, and they are consistent in their database management.

In short - get rid of the MAD MEN fantasy, the fifties are over. Consultative sales people need to be patient, they need to be hunters, too but they also need to be observers and good at research.

In this new, sometimes challenging business environment where hardly anything will work they way it did, even as recent as two years ago we need to be more consultative and we need to change things up a bit. Everybody talks about social media and getting to results faster. I get it. I use social media myself. But what about the basics of human interaction? Courtesy, listening, professionalism? What about picking up the phone instead of tweeting? Sometimes it's important to go back to the way we used to do things, just in a better, improved way. With 24/7 availability and social media connectivity we sometimes forget that we are humans targeting other humans.

Yes, procurement gets involved a lot sooner and companies are more careful with their spending and only the providers that really add value will get a chance to get their foot in the door. And then you still have to navigate through the sales cycle and close the deal. That is why it's so important to understand who the decision makers are, understanding our prospect's needs and being targeted in our approach. Nobody wants to be sold to.

Here is a checklist to hire sales people for a consultative sales environment

1) Invite them to an interview and observe how many questions they ask.

2) Schedule a phone interview as a first or second meeting. Most sales transactions happen over the phone and phone manners are crucially important to being successful.

3) Monitor how diligent they are following up. Keep in mind, the way they present themselves to you will be the way your prospects and clients will experience them. If they don’t follow up with you after the interview, there will be a chance that they are not diligent in following up with prospects.

4) Test their writing skills. Ask them to put together a short e-mail that they would use when prospecting on behalf of your company. If they focus on generics, not being able to grasp the value that your company brings to your audiences, they will probably end up having a rough time guiding a prospect through the sales cycle.

5) As part of the hiring process, have them do some research. A huge part of the consultative sales process is doing proper research. Before picking up the phone, sales people need to know who they are calling on, what the industry challenges are, etc.

6) Test their social media skills. In today’s business environment, sales people need to be social media savvy. They need to be able to use LinkedIn and other sources to identify targets.

7) Have them take a personality test. There are test available that companies can use to determine if there might be a fit. Not everybody has it in them to be a good sales person. And trust me, most people don’t have it in them to be a good consultative sales person. Sales people with high affiliation scores usually want to please people. People pleasers want to be liked and they shy away from confrontation. They have a really hard time saying “no”. And saying “no” at the right time is part of the consultative sales process.

Hiring the right sales people results in:

- Happier, more efficient employees
- Satisfied clients
- More revenue

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About the Author

Monika DAgostino, Consultative Sales Academy
54 Soundview Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06854

If you would like to re-print this article, please contact the author.
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