Enough Consulting…How About Helping?

I was reading a position outline the other day for a VP of sales role in the building materials industry and one of the required skills was “consultative sales.” Written by a Boomer for sure.

The leaders of construction firms today have access to more information on their phones than was available in the world 100 years ago. They already know their problems and they’ve sat in meetings or sales calls with 50 building material salespeople before us that have asked them the proverbial “what are your biggest concerns and problems today?” question.

They want us to bring them fixes. And if we don’t have to use up hours of their time asking them questions about “what keeps them up at night” they’ll be grateful. I was explaining the difference between consultative selling and Challenger Selling a few years ago to the president of a large West Coast insulation contractor and he said “Jeff, if I had a dollar for every time a sales rep sat across the desk from me and asked what my problems were…I’d be able to retire.”

So What To Do?

If you want to stand out from the herd and rise to the top, help your customers:

  1. Fix problems
  2. Make more money
  3. Avoid liability

You need to study and figure out what the best practices are in your industry among the leaders, come up with better ways of building through incorporating your products and suggestions that are proven benefits and bring that to your customer or prospect as a strong recommendation to take action and take it now. Challenge them. Say:

  • “We find that while having a higher upfront cost–the labor savings totaling XX$ or % mean that builders doing it this way put another X% or X$ to their bottom line.” Or
  • “Customers with the lowest percentage of liability and construction-defect losses do this and this.” Or
  • “Companies that are getting out ahead of the upcoming code changes have better relationships with building inspectors who work with them instead of slowing them down.

Study the best builders and contractors out there. Find out what type of buyers buy their homes and why. Research your competitors. Talk to other trades. Find out what’s going to make a difference and what problems your idea will solve, how it has helped others make more money, or in what way has it lessened liability and what does that mean in dollars and cents.

Don’t ask your customers what’s keeping them up at night.

Tell them what should be keeping them up at night and how others who have used your solution have benefited.