For your midsize company to do well, you must have the right philosophy guiding your sales process. We've all seen the old cartoon in which a man is talking to his dog. What the dog is hearing is, "Blah blahblah blah ROVER blah blah blah." Unfortunately, many salespeople are like Rover. The customer talks to them and all they hear is "hydraulic pump" or "web page" or "cleaning services." Basically, these folks are just order takers. They don't add anything to the sales process, and if what the customer wants suddenly gets offered on Amazon, they'll never see another order. 

Sales process

Are these the folks you want selling your products or services? Are these the people you want as your future executives as you grow? They shouldn't be.

Having a well-trained sales force is crucial to your company's success, as well as its future prospects. To best achieve success, you must offer more to your customers than an ability to fill an order - you need to show that you understand a potential client's business and demonstrate your company's ability to creatively address their pain points. Here are five reasons why it's better to have a consultative sales process.

1. You Can Solve Problems

An order taker thinks he's selling a bunch of mobiles phones. Consultative salespeople understand that they are selling a solution to a problem. The construction foreman doesn't wake up at four in the morning and think, "Gee, I need more phones." He's thinking, "How the devil can I get the concrete to the site and have my crew ready when it gets there?" That's the problem. And a good sales person will present his product in the context of solving that problem. A smart salesperson will see twenty problems like this, whereas each construction foreman only sees one. A consultative sales person integrates these experiences, truly helping the customer.

2. Differentiate Your Company

People buy from companies that give them the most value. If your sales process involves showing a customer how to use the point-of-sales devices you are selling to increase profits, rather than just dropping the devices on their loading dock, you have a huge advantage over the order takers in your field. Word will spread. Wouldn't you like to have one of your sales people go see a new prospect who's had you recommended to them? It's a much better start than cold calling.

3. Make the Buyer Look Good

If your sales people help the buyer use the information in the market research reports you're selling so he can better target his prospects, it makes the buyer look good. He's had a difficult problem to solve; your people have not only sold him data but helped him figure out how to use the information in a way that's useful to his company. He looks good to his boss. Do you think he won't remember that and look for you next time?

4. Get out of the Commodity Business

Being in the commodity business is tough and nasty. You compete purely on price, and you may face competitors with deeper pockets who want to buy into your market. What you want to do is show through your sales process that you offer more than just a commodity sale. You're selling a premium offering because you sell the components, but you also solve customer problems. You have to make sure the buyer knows this - no one's going to tell her if you don't - but you'll be able to charge more and be worth it. Yes, you'll lose some commodity sales at rock-bottom prices, but you don't make money on those anyway.

5. Develop Your Leadership

Good consultative sales people are well-started on the path to being sales leaders and good executives. If you want to grow your business, these are the people you're going to need. According to the NCMM's "Informal HR: Building a Smart Workforce on a Tiny Training Budget" study, informal learning, something that happens automatically in the workplace, leads to a nimble workforce, the agile problem solvers and decision needed to cope with non-routine tasks. Order takers aren't going to have the vision or the skills to help you expand, but your best consultative salespeople will. They'll help one another; they'll sell well; they'll build your company; and they'll be a lot more interesting to be around while they're doing it.

Peter Miller is an NCMM contributor and a career entrepreneur who has built sales forces in multiple companies. He is currently COO of Genomic Healthcare Strategies in Charlestown, MA.