consultative sales and marketing

The following is what I hear from 90% of B2B companies that I talk to:

“Our company is all about a consultative sales approach. We’re good at what we do and have years of experience, so we’re able to help our potential customers identify the right solution for them before we sell them anything.”

Maybe this consultative sales approach sounds familiar to you too. Your company isn’t just a seller of a commodity product or service. Instead, you’re a solution-oriented partner for your potential customers. You help them solve their business problems. And by doing so from day one, you kick off long-term, trusting relationships. In short, you earn trust by being HELPFUL.

But when I ask these same B2B companies what their marketing approaches look like, I usually hear something like this:

“Promotional print materials that show our capabilities. Print ads about how long we’ve been in business. Press releases about things happening at our company.”

Think about that for a second:

  • Your potential customer has a problem he needs solved
  • Your sales approach is about helping him solve that problem
  • But your marketing approach is about telling him how awesome your company is

Something is very backwards here.

Just as trust needs to be earned DURING the sales process, trust needs be earned BEFORE the sales process begins. Before your prospect has ever had a conversation with you. Before he truly believes that you’re a knowledgeable, experienced industry expert that wants to help him find the right solution. And certainly before you’ve established the right to tell him how great your company is.

Here’s what consultative marketing looks like:

Instead of printing a fancy capabilities brochure, build a knowledge center filled with helpful articles on your website that address common questions. Instead of cluttering your prospects’ inboxes with another braggadocious e-newsletter, send an email filled with insights and helpful tips catered to their needs. Instead of running a costly print ad, reach out to an industry journal and offer to write an educational guest article about a topic that will pique the interest of both your audience and theirs.

And when leads result from this kind helpful marketing, you’ve already begun to earn trust – before that potential customer has even met you. You’ve already distinguished yourself from your competitor that’s done nothing but talk about how great his company is. Thanks to your consultative marketing approach, your consultative sale is already underway.

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