“Un-Selling” Another’s Solution? Shame on You!

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An SEO client of yours is approached by another web company with a unique marketing solution which you cannot provide. When your client asks your opinion, you …

  1. Take an unbiased look and give the client your honest advice
  2. Tell your client this would “conflict” with the work you’re doing for fear that, if your client begins working with another web firm, you might wind up losing their business

In my last article, Transactional vs. Consultative Selling: Knowing the Difference Makes All the Difference, I compared the transactional sale with the consultative one:

Transactional Sale

A simple, short-term sale in which the customer already knows what he needs. Little or no product knowledge is required on the sales side. Buying criteria is usually based on “how much?” or “how fast can I get it?”

Consultative Sale

A complex, long-term sale involving the collaboration of both buyer and seller. The sales person must first understand the customer’s needs before offering a solution.

It becomes a problem when a prospect attempts to engage our services using the transactional approach. Yet, we can do our clients an equal dis-service when we assume the transactional approach, but disguise it as consultative.

Harvard Business School professor, Ranjay Gulati, explores the fallacy that media companies are “consultative and customer focused.” According to the article on BIA/Kelsey’s Local Media Watch blog, salespeople are saying “I’ll talk about your needs so long as it leads to you only buying my portfolio of solutions …” but that they are “communicating with customers through a product lens (with a pre-determined end in mind).” That’s a problem.

Consultative or collaborative selling is about transparency and building solutions that fit the customer’s needs and not necessarily the media company’s balance sheet. If a salesperson is aiming to sell a specific product set, and is willing to un-sell other potential solutions, then this version of consultative selling is merely disguised as the same transactional selling of old … (Italics Mine)

Are you willing to walk away rather than propose a solution that won’t truly meet the prospect’s needs? Or will you “un-sell” another potential solution by providing disinformation to convince the prospect that your offering is superior to another type of advertising or marketing medium?

Incidentally, the scenario I shared at the beginning of this article actually happened to one of our sales reps, and his client’s SEO “consultant” chose Option B. Shame on you, whoever you are.

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John TabitaJohn Tabita
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Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.

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