In just three sentences you reveal whether you are a consultative sales representative.
In the first sentence, a consultant identifies a customer problem in financial terms—what the problem is costing the customer or what the customer could be earning without the problem. If you mention your product or service, you are vending and not consulting.
In the second sentence, a consultant quantifies a profit improvement solution to the problem. If you mention your product or service, you are vending and not consulting.
In the third sentence, a consultant takes a position as manager of a problem-solving project and accepts single-source responsibility for its performance. In the course of defining the project in terms of contribution to customer profit, you are able to mention products and services for the first time.
If you are selling as a consultant, it is easy to predict what the fourth sentence must be. It will be a proposal of partnership with your customer's managers in applying your system to solve the customer's problem.
A consultant's problem-solving approach to selling requires helping customers improve their profits, not persuading them to purchase products and services. To solve a customer's problem, a consultant must first know the needs that underlie it. Only when a customer's needs are known can the expertise, hardware, and services that compose a system become useful components of their solutions. This is the difference between servicing a product and servicing a customer. It allows your relationships with customers to be consultative rather than the simple sell-and-bill relationship that characterizes traditional customer-supplier transactions at the vendor level.
The ideal positioning for a consultative seller is customer profit improver. You can achieve this position by affecting one of a customer's operating processes in two ways: reducing its contribution to cost or increasing its contribution to sales revenues. A consultative seller's primary identification with profit improvement rather than with products, equipment, services, or even systems themselves gives the sales approach an economic objective. It focuses attention on the ultimate end benefit of a sale, not its components or cost. This gives you the same profit-improvement positioning as your customer has. It also professionalizes your mission by expressing it in business management terms, not sales talk.