Top 5: The Consultative Approach


What common threads do the top 5% of salespeople share? Follow TOP 5 on ESA’s Catalyst, a series of posts on the top performers of today. This month, we ask our friends Herb Greenberg and Pat Sweeney from Caliper for their insights.

The future of media sales is already here.

You hear and see the word too often today.

Ask media executives if they sell consultatively and they will assure you they do. It’s on their business cards, in their introductions, and right their below their email signatures.

But how many really go the extra mile to anticipate their client’s next need? How many know their prospect’s business as well as the business owner themselves?

We’ve shared some of the essential ingredients of today’s (and tomorrow’s) media executive with you — things like Empathy, Ego-Drive, and Resiliency (or Ego Strength). These are all important — and measurable — assets, but without a consultative retail-first approach, it could be tough sledding out there.

With so many traditional sales and negotiation functions being disintermediated by technology and other means, there is a very real threat in the media industry today. Those who take a consultative approach are miles ahead, not just in insulating themselves against this threat, but also in acquiring and retaining more long-term relationships with their clientele.

Top 5’ers set themselves apart from the pack by not only leading with retail, but also by continually providing key answers without the need to ask an abundance of questions — as Roland Eckstein shared with us at ESA’s ROI2012 conference.

It’s not enough to know a few facts and figures about the industry you are prospecting. Today, there is a real need to challenge your prospects and clients to think differently, and provide the solutions for them to deliver on that thinking.

In Herb Greenberg and Pat Sweeney’s new book, How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer, the authors emphasize that the move from a transactional to consultative selling is gaining momentum and not slowing down anytime soon:

There are basically two ways to sell—to be consultative or to be transactional. And which approach is most appropriate will depend on several factors, including the nature of the product or service you are providing and the needs of your prospects and clients. As a sales leader, you must be able to identify the DNA your salespeople need, not just the skill set they may have learned. In the future there will be somewhere between very little and no need for transactional salespeople. None of us wants them. Or needs them. We can purchase whatever they offer online—and have it delivered without ever having to talk with an annoying salesperson who is trying to convince us to be doing something else with it that we really don’t want.

The future belongs to those who sell consultatively. To those professionals who are intrigued by working with their clients, on getting them to open up and helping them to solve problems—problems that sometimes they may not have even realized they had before. Not only are the best consultative salespeople solving problems for their clients today, but they are also looking for things that their clients are not worried about right now that they should be.”

What does this mean for today’s media sales team? Look for opportunities to go above and beyond for clients and prospects. Pretend for a moment you are an employee — or even better, a leader — within their organization. What types of decisions would you need to make? What information would you need to make them? How would you go about growing the business on limited resources?

When you approach the business with questions like these already answered, you really are doing something for them they might not be able to do for themselves. That is precisely why they would choose your solution over the pack.


Read Greenberg and Sweeney’s book, HOW TO HIRE AND DEVELOP YOUR NEXT TOP PERFORMER, available in bookstores and at Amazon.com on September 7, 2012. Please visit CaliperCorp.com for more information.

Herbert Greenberg, Patrick Sweeney, How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer, 2nd edition: The Qualities That Make Salespeople Great, © 2012, McGraw-Hill Professional; reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Dave Eckstein, ESA & Company | Real. Local. Results: 2012Dave Eckstein is a Partner in the firm ESA & Company. He specializes in highly profitable market share growth for local businesses and gets a kick out of demonstrating a declining cost of customer acquisition. He plays baseball, but isn't that Dave Eckstein.

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