The new mantra of consultative selling

Smart companies aren't hiring salespeople anymore. They're investing, with good reason, in a different breed altogether.

Rajesh Srivastava

Are you familiar with the new way of selling?

"Sell more & more?" did you say?

That is the old way of selling.

The new way of selling builds on the above themes but encompasses much more. It recommends:  

  • To build, nurture & deepen the relationship between the customer and your brand at every moment of truth - when your customer comes in touch with your brand.

  • Not attempting to monetise this relationship at each and every transaction; doing it over the lifetime of the relationship.

Watch a video of this episode or continue reading

Episode 2: New rules of business


And therefore, the job of every stakeholder is not to sell or merely establish relationship with customers, but to be a consultant who helps ensure that they reach their 'personal objective' and in the process ensure they gain, financially or non-financially, if not on both count.

Financial gain would be in the form of money, for example, by making brand friend aware of the discount and offers, while non-financial gains would be in terms of saving of time, etc.

In this new role of a consultant, many a time, they may end up recommending a competitor’s brand. So be it. A question may pop up in your mind: "Is my consultant working for my company or my competitor's?"

The answer is simple: All of us, be it the top management or a consultant, work neither for our company nor our competitor's. We all work for our customer.

You may be wondering whether such acts of generosity towards competitors and customer ever pay off. They will, because you are putting in play the reciprocal and likeability principles.

The reciprocal principle states that whenever you do good for somebody, it creates a favourable predisposition in the other person to reciprocate your gesture. By that logic, when a salesperson assumes the role of a consultant and advises customer without any ulterior motives, she wins their trust and goodwill. As a result, the customers will invariably return to her with business whenever the need arises.

The likeability principle, on the other hand, states that we tend to do business with the people we like. If a person is striving to protect our interests, will we not like her? If there were an opportunity to do business again, would we not choose her over others? Of course, we would.

Are you wondering whether any company has prospered following these suggestions?

Yes there is - Apple Retail.

Apple Retail was set up not to sell Apple products, but to establish and deepen the relationship between the company and its customer. And, more importantly, repair any relationship that might have broken when, perhaps, a MacBook crashed or an iPad failed to boot.

For this Apple populated its stores with blue-blooded consultants, not merely salespersons.

Apple Retail has an Apple Studio, which provides an opportunity to the customers to receive training on using Apple products more skillfully. At the Studio she can receive training and help on things such as organising a photo album, music composition and film editing.

Every Apple store also has a Genius Bar manned by a 'genius'.

The geniuses have extensive technical knowhow to troubleshoot any problem with any Apple device that may bring the company’s relationship with the customer under strain.

Did you notice that Apple did not make any attempt to sell its products to its customers? But their consultants strive to establish, nurture, strengthen and deepen relationship between Apple and its customers which gets monetized over the lifetime of the relationship.

So, the new way of selling is not to sell, but to deepen relationships between the customer and brand by transforming every salesperson into a consultant. Then sit back and witness your sales soar.

(If you have a question, please feel free to write to

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About the author

Rajesh Srivastava
Rajesh Srivastava

Author and Visiting Faculty

IIM Indore

Rajesh Srivastava has 3 decades of corporate & academic experience. He has reenergised companies, including J K Helene Curtis Ltd., & nurtured brands like, Bagpiper whiskey, Royal Challenge whiskey, Blue Riband gin, Blue Riband Duet, Park Avenue range of deodorant & personal care products. He is part of the Visiting Faculty at IIM Indore. He is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur & IIM Bangalore. He is currently working on his first book.

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