When most people think of a salesperson, they think of the pushy and overbearing individual on the other end of a blocked caller ID phone call while you are eating dinner with your family. This "salesperson" has one agenda: get your money. They take no thought of what you actually want or need, but are ready to offer you a deal that would make you feel guilty if you did not take it. You find it hard to say "no" and you decide it is easier to just hang up before they start talking next time...

When we think of a consultant, we tend to think of a sharp dressed individual that is a highly sought after professional. Consultants come to the aid of failing or struggling businesses, companies with marketing needs, or to institutions that need professional advice on certain projects. Consultants have one agenda: to solve your problems. We find it easy to take advice and counsel from a consultant because we feel it will be the best opportunity for our company.

So, you can see that the difference is huge, but it does not have to be. We are all in sales to some extent. A bank teller "sells" different types of accounts to bank clients, gets them in touch with loan officers for their new car loan, etc. A warehouse employee has to "sell" to his boss his request for a new tape gun or box cutter. Regardless of how we look at it, and regardless of our position, we are all in sales.

The difference between being labeled as a salesperson or a consultant is the motive and the approach. If we take the time to listen to our customers, and truly find them the best solution to their problem, we will be more effective in becoming sought after and not hung up upon. ContactPoint shows companies how to effectively solve customer needs and provide the best solutions. There are some simple steps to achieve this, and I will describe them briefly. Use them, and see the difference:

  1. Validate - Let the customer know you heard their request and are willing and able to help them.
  2. Ask Questions - By asking questions, you allow your customers to talk. When they are talking, they start to feel more comfortable and that allows you to determine what their true needs are. You have the information you need to present a solution to help them.
  3. Restate - By repeating what your customers say to you, you let them know you heard them, and build a strong relationship.

These 3 skills will realize in stronger relationships with your customers and more sales. When we truly understand the needs of our customers, and they know that we are truly looking out for their best interests, we all win. Become the "consultant" to your customers and avoid the trap of becoming a salesperson.