Who wants to be “told” or “pitched” information? Not many people. Most people want to be next to you exploring a topic and adding their input to the discussion. They want to be collaborators.
Does this mean we don’t need to be the experts anymore? Not at all! It means that we need to be more of an expert and prepared to:
- Ask questions that engage and involve
- Allow time for more discussion
- Explore with them how what we offer will work for them specifically
- Adapt our communication to their style (including verbal style, decision making style and level of involvement style)
- Share expertise and information without sales pressure
A recent sales meeting illustrates the point. Two educated and experienced professionals who have used our training solutions for many years wanted to review the curriculum that we have been delivering for eight years to their firm. Within the first 10 minutes I could tell this wasn’t just a review, there was something more they wanted from the discussion.
I asked several open-ended questions like
“What is working well?”
“How is the current economy affecting the types of skills you need to strengthen in your organization?”
“What type of changes needs to be incorporated to address your audience?”
I found they had some DEFINITE ideas on what they wanted to do. They wanted to continue to use our platform but to tweak it to fit into some specific initiatives they have. AND they wanted to lead the charge in identifying what is needed and how they want it addressed. After all, they know their business best.
At first I thought, “They are replacing me. “But then I found they still want me involved. They want my expertise and industry experience, but they want to be more involved in what and how the work is done.
Will we continue to work with them? Absolutely! Not only as a solutions provider, but also as a collaborator on implementation of their ideas and outside credibility for an internal initiative. This makes the value of our solution to them even stronger.
Collaborative selling IS a step beyond consultative selling. And it’s a step in the right direction for long-term sales success.
What has been your success in collaborative selling? Let us know the Comments Section.
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