As more and more B2B sales conversations are moving to a consultative approach to gain a competitive and strategic advantage, it’s even more important to ensure your suppliers are aligned with your consultative sales process.
Customers are becoming more vocal about the problems they want solved and the solutions they are looking for. An effective way to expand your solutions and value is to leverage your supplier’s expertise and expanded products and services.
But before you do, you want to ensure that you and your distributor/channel company have the same consultative sales preparation and philosophy – especially if you invite them to be a part of your customer meeting.
In working with many sales teams, they have come to understand the importance of consultative selling and identifying customers’ needs and goals through great question asking, rather than a sell-and-tell approach when they are in a meeting. Your suppliers and third party partnerships must be an extension of your consultative go-to-market approach.
Third party relationships can consist of:
- Companies who act as distributors and represent many other suppliers or manufacturers. Can also be known as distributor or channel sales.
- Multi-Line Representatives who are sales organizations who represent several manufacturers.
- Channel Partners who represent a small select group of companies to compliment or become an extension of their core services/solutions.
- Referral partners who sell to the same type of customers and are not in a competitive line of business, but rather a complementary line of business. For example, in the financial industry, they may refer insurance, lawyers, and other specialty insurance.
Advantages to Third Party Relationships
- Expands your solutions, with additional options to create long term partnerships.
- They can provide additional knowledge, expertise and be problem solvers for your toughest customer challenges and accompany you in the customer meeting.
- They can help to grow and strengthen your sales team to potential buyers.
- Expands your product options. For example, you may represent many alternative suppliers for your decision maker to consider in their buying process.
- The can provide importing options.
- Some of these companies don’t deal directly with the customer and will provide you with leads through their channel distribution.
- Allows you to be more of a one-stop shop for your customer, expanding the expertise to companies with specialties.
- You can collaborate and create a strategy to grow a market or a customer with defined goals. For example, to grow a category/customer, to increase market share, or shorten a sales cycle.
Disadvantages to Third Party Relationships
- The third party company has to be prepared and apply a consultative approach, like the PURPOSE framework, rather than a sell-and-tell or product dump approach.
- You have to manage the supplier’s timelines and delivery expectations.
- When this supplier doesn’t meet the expectations, it impacts your reputation and business.
Although not covered here, there are additional parameters, contracts, terms and agreements needed to reduce the risk of these third party partnerships.
To achieve your growth objectives, leveraging third party relationships and expanding them into stronger consultative partnerships will increase sales, margins, and efficiency by shifting non-core or specialized solutions to more experienced providers.
Lisa is driven by the mantra – Be Strategic. Be Pro-active. Be Brave. – and has been successfully training and coaching sales leaders and their teams to do the same for over 15 years. As the President of Teneo Results since 2003, she has trained thousands of sales professionals at more than 250 companies across North America. She transitions salespeople away from the standard “product & price” approach to having purposeful business conversations with their customers that drive results.