Do clients see you as an advisor or a vendor? A partner or a peddler? The answer says everything about the relationships you will build and the success you will achieve.

A peddler’s business can be taken away at a moment’s notice by any competitor with a lower price or a newer feature. A trusted advisor is precious and not easily replaced.

If the sales training programs and sales coaching activities you are using are preparing you and your salespeople to be peddlers instead of partners, you are in trouble.

But wait a minute. My own sales training system, Action Selling, teaches that your primary responsibility in any interaction with a customer is to Ask for Commitment. Doesn’t that conflict with the goal of acting like an advisor instead of a peddler? As a matter of fact, it doesn’t.

Action Selling could as easily be named Action Advising. This becomes strikingly obvious when the system is used by professionals whose “product” is advice—financial advisors, consultants, accountants, and attorneys, for example.

Everything about the system, including the key sales skills it identifies and teaches, adds up to a step-by-step guide that illustrates how to behave like a trusted partner instead of a peddler.

Peddlers are disposable. Advisors are precious.

But isn’t there a fundamental conflict between the vendor role and the advisor role? Take the concept of a Commitment Objective, for instance. Would “advisor training,” as opposed to a sales training course, begin by insisting that the advisor’s goal in every client meeting should be to gain the client’s agreement to take some action that will move the relationship forward?

You bet it would. If an advisor does not believe that there is some course of action that would benefit the client, then in what sense is the person an advisor? What’s more, an advisor who Asks the Best Questions, listens carefully to the answers, and tailors solutions to the client’s most pressing needs is likely to recommend a course of action that will benefit the client very much indeed.

There are no more important sales skills than questioning and listening. Questioning and listening skills build trust. And when trust is built, asking for commitment is a natural outcome of a well-orchestrated meeting between an advisor and a client. The client will want the relationship to more forward as much as you do. So where is the conflict?

For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling.  He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations.  Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).