Everything You Need To Know About A Sales Consultant
You have a fantastic product and some great customers, and you’ve started to scale. But something just isn’t clicking. You’re not seeing the growth you expect.
It could be time to bring in a sales consultant.
Whether you’re trying to build up your sales team or your current one is struggling, sales consultants can be an invaluable asset. They have the experience to identify problems and the skill to implement a solution.
With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about sales consultants:
What Is a Sales Consultant?
Sales consultants are external advisers who come into a business – either for an agreed period, or for regular sessions – with a view to improving its sales processes and strategies.
They might be hired to overcome a specific challenge, or they might simply be asked to diagnose problems themselves. Either way, they are tasked with developing and rolling out new ways of working, with the ultimate goal of improving sales team performance.
To be effective in the role, sales consultants will typically have multiple years of experience working in – and, ideally, leading – high-performing sales teams.
What Is the Role of a Sales Consultant?
Sales consultants are hired to deliver results rather than to perform specific tasks. After all, they are external experts rather than internal employees, so they’ll rarely (if ever) be directly involved in the day-to-day running of a sales organization. However, their responsibilities will typically include:
- Assessing sales team KPIs, adjusting or adding new ones where necessary
- Monitoring and reporting on performance
- Communicating with customers to understand their goals
- Defining bottlenecks and weaknesses in existing processes
- Working closely with marketing to improve collaboration
- Developing a positive, high-performing sales team culture
- Identifying opportunities for upsells, cross-sells, and new client acquisition
- Keeping up to date with industry benchmarks, trends, and best practices
- Considering the viability of potential new markets and buyer personas
4 Qualities of Sales Consultants
Sales consultants can have wide-ranging skill sets, depending on the types of sales organizations they’ve worked with in the past. However, the best consultants tend to share a few common characteristics, such as:
As with any sales position, a positive state of mind is a big requirement of the sales consultant role. They should be able to motivate and inspire the various salespeople within the organization; a little positivity can be a big help in achieving this.
Another key point on this – given that the role is all about identifying problems and changing existing behaviors, it helps for consultants to be able to communicate in a positive way. After all, no one likes to be told they’re doing things “wrong”.
Following on from that last point, consultants need the ability to persuade sales reps, leaders, and other stakeholders that the solutions they recommend are best for the business.
Those solutions can often involve a lot of upheaval, and may even cost a lot of money. The consultant may need to persuade senior leadership to invest in an expensive piece of software or start selling in a completely different way. They can expect to be challenged on their recommendations, so they must be able to fight their corner effectively.
3. Emotional Intelligence
Every sales organization is unique. Sure, similar issues might arise across multiple companies, but the exact solution will vary based on myriad factors, from the personalities and strengths of the sales reps, to the size of the team and the budget they have available for things like training and software.
With that in mind, it’s important for the sales consultant to have strong emotional intelligence to help them understand how individuals on the team feel about proposed changes to systems and processes. They should also be able to adapt their language and messaging to get their points across effectively.
Poor sales scripts. Inefficient processes. Lack of effective collaboration with marketing. There are so many things that can hamper the performance of a sales team.
What’s more, problems with sales team performance rarely have a single solution – rather, they tend to be caused by a combination of multiple, smaller issues.
As such, the sales consultant must be extremely detail-oriented to focus in on all potential areas for improvement and identify those that will make the biggest difference.
Sales Consultant Advice for Salespeople & Thought Leaders
Do you have extensive sales experience and a proven track record of improving sales team performance through new systems and processes? You could be a fantastic fit for the role of sales consultant. Here’s how to do it.
How Do You Become a Sales Consultant?
There are no specific, formal education requirements for the role of sales consultant.
However, according to Zippia, two-fifths of sales consultants have a bachelor’s degree of some form, while about one in 14 have a master’s degree.
In other words, while a degree certainly isn’t mandatory, sales consultants have a better chance of standing out from the crowd if they complete a degree in a relevant field, such as business or marketing.
Undoubtedly the biggest factor in landing work as a consultant is your past experience and track record. Sales consultants must be able to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skill to come into an organization and implement changes that will deliver the desired results. While education may play a part, this expertise tends to be acquired on the job over several years.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Sales Consultant?
Clearly, the sales consultant role is a demanding one. To be successful, consultants must possess a wide range of skills, including:
- Excellent written and spoken communication to explain their vision and win support from internal stakeholders
- Ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems
- Capable of persuading, influencing, and motivating salespeople
- Strong product and industry knowledge
- Good interpersonal skills and networking capabilities
- A proven track record of delivering results as a salesperson
Sales Consultant Advice for Businesses
Think your business would benefit from getting an experienced sales consultant onboard to improve your processes, reduce inefficiencies, and drive performance? Read this first.
When Should You Hire a Sales Consultant?
Clearly, there’s no such thing as a “bad time” to bring in an experienced consultant capable of improving your processes and upskilling your reps. There are any number of reasons why you might want to hire a consultant right now. However, typical signs that you should work with a sales consultant include:
- Inaccurate sales forecasting that stops you planning effectively for the future
- A lack of clarity around your existing sales process, leading to inefficiencies and inconsistencies
- Big changes to the external business landscape, such as disruptive competitors entering the market
- Very high staff turnover among your sales team
- Very high churn rate among new customers
- Declining margins or sales volumes
- Inability to scale your sales function
4 Tips for Hiring the Right Sales Consultant
Recognize one or more of the problems outlined in the previous section? It’s probably time for you to hire a consultant. Here are four tips to ensure you choose the right one.
1. Ensure They Understand Your Product
Every sales consultant should come into a business with a clear objective and purpose in mind – generally, this will be related to increasing sales or improving processes.
To do either of those things, they must have a strong understanding of the product or service you offer, and how it meets the needs of your customers.
Additionally, they should have an accurate view of the processes you’re currently using, so they can quickly determine potential weak links and come up with solutions.
2. Assess Their Experience
Of course, past experience is important when hiring for any role. But it’s doubly important when hiring a sales consultant.
If you’re bringing someone in to potentially rip up the rulebook and completely change your approach to sales, it’s vital you know that they’ve done this sort of thing before, and have delivered fantastic results. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to trust their recommendations.
Be sure to ask for case studies and get references from other sales organizations they’ve worked with.
3. Find the Right Fit
Different consultants thrive in different environments. Much of this will be based on their past experiences. If a consultant spent their entire career as a frontline salesperson working for enterprise-scale businesses, they may have an extremely impressive resume, but much of the knowledge they picked up along the way just won’t be applicable to startups.
With that in mind, you should ideally hire a consultant with a proven track record in businesses like yours, or at least an all-rounder with experience at a wide range of organizations.
4. Consider Their Training Ability
Identifying innovative methods and strategies is one thing; teaching other salespeople how to utilize those methods and strategies is another kettle of fish.
The best consultants shouldn’t just be able to do the “theory” side – that is, finding problems and recommending new approaches. They also need to do the “practical” side of implementing solutions, which requires being able to train a salesforce on how to make those changes work on a day-to-day basis.