The economic downturn in the technology sector has put a squeeze on resellers' margins. Not surprisingly, many value-added resellers (VARs) are looking to their professional services—not just products sales—to hit their profit goals. Others are evaluating partnerships and rethinking marketing strategies. But with client demands at through-the-roof levels, selling approaches are more important than ever. A Channel Insider post takes a closer look at the benefits of consultative selling during tough economic times.

The news is good. Solution providers that use a consultative selling approach have fared better during the economic downturn. They report having built stronger customer relationships that are already paying off. How? By relying less on product/price strategies and more on the core ideas of consultative selling—honest and engaging interactions with customers about their needs, followed by real, value-driven solutions.

"This economy hurts people who sell stuff," says Nick Bock, CEO and co-founder of Five Nines Technology Group, a Nebraska-based managed-services provider. "We never walk into customers saying we think you should buy a bunch of these things. When we walk in we want to know what they want to accomplish as a business and an IT organization."

Understanding the complexity of issues that your client faces, before you try to sell a solution, builds trust. "It's all about the relationship," says Boch. "The way we sell to customers is differentiating."

The Po!nt: With fewer deals out there and even less potential to win on price, there's never been a better time to assess your sales approach—and put stock into a consultative sales strategy.

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