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Are You a Sales Advisor or an Order-Taker?

By Jerry Pujals

As a sales professional, you must strive to stay in control of every situation. That is, you must guide your clients to the best decision and ensure your clients know the advantages and disadvantages of every buying decision. This is a practiced skill that those in the top 3% have honed. The rest of the salespeople out there unknowingly relinquish control over to their clients. As a result, they have poor results, for both themselves and their clients.

Think about it: as a salesperson, you are trained in the specifics of what you sell. You know how the industry works, you have experience with your product or service, and you have access to information your clients do not. So why let a client, who is not as knowledgeable as you in this particular field, take the lead in the transaction? Doing so is a recipe for disaster.

Smart and successful salespeople view themselves as advisors. The other 97% think of themselves as order-takers. The client says, “I want this and this and I want to do that.” And the salesperson says, “Okay,” no matter what the request. Those who take on the advisor role listen to what their client wants, and then they determine if those requests make sense for the client. If they don’t, the advisor offers alternatives, shows why those alternatives are necessary, and confidently makes his or her case. The client, who senses the salesperson’s knowledge and expertise, usually see that the original requests were unreasonable or not to his or her advantage.

Developing the Advisor Mentality: Many salespeople claim to be advisors, but really they are not. Sure, they may put titles on their business cards, like “Sales Advisor,” but they still have an order-taker mentality. Simply writing a title on your business card is not enough. To truly believe you are an advisor, do the following:

1) Use Affirmations: Affirmations confirm your beliefs by ingraining them into your subconscious. That’s why the first step to thinking like an advisor rather than an order-taker is to tell yourself every day, “I am an expert sales advisor. I advise my clients on the best buying decisions to make.” But remember, simply saying the words is not enough. You must truly believe them. Once you believe them, they will become reality.

2) Know Your Information: The other part of the advisor mentality involves the information you’re able to provide, because at some point you’re going to have to prove your advisor status by actually advising your client and giving reliable information. That’s why you must know your information, but not rely on it exclusively.

When many salespeople talk with a prospect, they over-prepare. They find every fact and figure available to prove why their product or service is superior and they overanalyze the data. As a result, they want to impress their client with data rather than show the client what the product or service can actually do to improve his or her life. The client soon feels buried in data and tries to gain control of the situation just to get out from under the information overload.

The key here is to realize that different personality styles exist. For example, suppose the client you’re meeting is an engineer. By nature, engineers are analytical and want to see data. They rely on facts and figures in their day-to-day job, so offering them facts and figures in your sales transaction makes sense. However, if you’re meeting with a CEO of a major company, he or she is busy and likely only wants bottom line information—just the end results of what he or she will get. On the other hand, if your client is a psychologist, he or she will likely want to know more about you and will want to develop a relationship with you first before getting into the meat of the matter.

3) Be Adaptable: To be a successful advisor, you must be able to recognize the different personality styles and be versatile in your approach to each. You need to identify immediately whether you’re dealing with an amiable kind of person who likes to take his or her time, or if you’re dealing with a fast-paced, to-the-point kind of person, because how you relate to each and the kind of information you give each will be different.

So being a good advisor is really about knowing how to read people, both in person and over the phone. Then, it’s about adjusting your approach to match the other person.

A great question to ask that will help you identify a person’s personality is: “What are some of the things that are important to you and that you need to know for us to work together?”

That one question will tell you more about people than anything else. Right away an analytical type will say, “Before I buy I need to know the exact specifications of the product, how it works, what warranties are available, and any other data that’s pertinent.” However, a more bottom line thinker would say, “I just want to know what results this product will give me.” Do you see the difference in responses and how each response reveals different information about the person?

Unfortunately, most salespeople wing it when they’re meeting with clients. They don’t adjust their information for their audience, and their results show it. These same people always appear nervous, and they lack confidence. As a result, their clients run the show, and all the salesperson does is take orders.

If you want to get a better understanding of the different personality styles you will encounter, and the best approach for dealing with each, read books about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the DiSC Personal Profile System. Both of these assessment methods are great tools for understanding people. Simply do a search online or visit your local library for the information.

Become an Advisor Today: In the end, it’s up to you to take control of every situation and guide your clients to better decisions. Really get to know the kind of people you’re working with, and truly believe you can help them with their needs. The more you view yourself as a true advisor, know your information, and stay adaptable, the more sales you’ll make, which ultimately benefits both you and your client.

Read other articles and learn more about Jerry Pujals.

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