A salesperson sells their company’s products, services, and solutions. They create a level of value based on the value of the product, the value of the experience, or the value of the solution.
A consultant does not sell a product, service, or a solution. A consultant sells their insight, their ideas, their change initiative.
But now salespeople are responsible for having the insights, the ideas, and the ability to lead change, while also selling the product, service, and solution.
Salesperson, Consultative, or Consultative Salesperson
If you lead with product, you are a pure salesperson. You can sell features and benefits, and you can let the product do the selling for you. But this is the fastest and surest way to be commoditized.
If you sell your service alone, you are also a pure salesperson. You can sell the features and benefits your service provides your clients, and you might be able to create a slightly greater level of value for your customers by coupling your product and your service offerings.
If you sell your company’s solutions, you’re entering into the muddy middle between a salesperson and a consultant. It’s likely that you have some insights and ideas that differentiate you, but your competitors may have some similar ability to generate the same outcomes.
If you sell pure insights, you are a consultant. A consultant does not have to sell a product, service, or a solution, even though some consultants may be paid for doing the work to implement the change they recommend. This isn’t true for consultative salespeople.
So here’s the rub. If you sell your product, or service alone, it is difficult to charge for your insights. Being a consultative salesperson means more than selling a product, service, or solution. It requires that you couple your insight with the products, services, and solutions that you sell, and that you capture some of the value that you create by charging a price that is greater than what you could sell the product, service, or solution for alone.