In my last communication, I talked about my philosophy of “sitting on the same side of the table as your customer.” I explained a bit of what that philosophy entailed. I mentioned that it ties back to a collaborative selling process I developed.

I’d like to talk a little more about collaborative selling and what it means. Over the years, as sales processes have developed and changed, I felt one of the biggest shifts was towards consultative selling. Instead of selling through more traditional selling methodologies or “schmoozing,” sales people took a step back. They wanted to learn about the client’s needs first, then try and find an appropriate solution.

I’m a big believer in asking questions and finding out as much information as you can. There is a gap however, in consultative selling that I believe takes you to the next level. When you use a consultative process, it’s all about your customer’s needs and meeting them. The issue is that someone else’s needs might not be getting met — yours.

Collaborative selling is about determining if there is a place in which BOTH parties needs are met. Can the arrangement be beneficial to both of you? I believe it’s important to discuss your needs as well. It goes back to something I addressed in my prior communication. I want to have conversations. I don’t want to make a presentation. Collaboration leads to a conversation instead of one party presenting to another. Through this process, some things that occur are:

  • You don’t feel the need to sell. You are listening to try and help determine a place where you can both be happy
  • You gain an understanding of their perspective first through your questions
  • Instead of selling your position, you now get to share what your needs are, openly and honestly too
  • You collaborate instead of negotiate to find a good place for both of you

There is something else that I learned that resonated with me. A friend of mine taught mediation for UCLA and UC Irvine as well as for other organizations. I took his class and there were some very enlightening moments for me. One that stuck was he talked about the difference between collaboration and compromise. We always hear about how we need to compromise to come to a solution and each side needs to give in. What didn’t hit me until his class was, by definition, compromise is lose/lose. Collaboration is win/win.

While I personally am not fond of the term “win/win” as it feels to sales-like to me, the goal is for each party to be fully satisfied. I do believe that, in most instances, that is possible. It’s not about each side giving something up. It’s about finding a place where both of you can be fully happy.

I’d be happy to share more information to help you improve your success. Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about how we can help your company improve its success with respect to sales, presentation skills or leadership coaching and development.

Mike Levin

By Michael Levin
Michael Levin is President and CEO of Custom Solutions. He has launched numerous companies and built them into multi-million dollar entities. He is a three-time #1 international best-selling author. His books include his #1 inspirational best seller, “Let Them See You Sweat,” along with “The Art of Collaborative Selling.” He is also co-author of Jack Canfield’s “The Road to Success.”