Ultimate selling: The collaborative sales model
  • sales
  • Blog post

Ultimate selling: The collaborative sales model

You know about consultative selling. It’s an effective methodology or mindset used successfully around the globe.

The “holy grail” in consultative selling is when you act as a trusted advisor, assisting the buyer in identifying needs and offering solutions that fit their situation.

Consultative selling is a proven approach, says sales training expert Nancy Bleeke. But it’s not the ultimate. There’s a way you can achieve even better results. Consultants are still delivering something to the buyer. Collaboration is working with your buyers.

A side-by-side process
Collaborative selling is working with your buyers in a joint process to clarify needs, identify how the solution you provide benefits them and then navigate through decision-making. It’s a side-by-side process, not a head-to-head one.

This quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes says it well: “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”

Who knows how much more our buyer can add to the depth of how they use our product/service?

They may have ideas for application, usage and implementation that we never thought of! They want to participate in creating the solution. When they do, they get a better solution and greater ownership.

So when we can collaborate with them and jointly discover needs, wants, challenges and solutions to help them, we build a deeper relationship and a more loyal customer.

Who wants to be “told” or “pitched” information? Not many people, these days. Most people would rather be next to you exploring a topic and adding their input to the discussion.

Does this mean we don’t need to be the experts anymore?
Not at all! It means that we need to be more of an expert and prepared to:

  • Ask questions that engage and involve.
  • Allow time for more discussion.
  • Explore with buyers how what we offer will work for them specifically.
  • Adapt our communication to their style (including verbal style, decision-making style and level of involvement style).
  • Share expertise and information without sales pressure.

A recent sales meeting with a long-term client illustrates the point. Within the first 10 minutes the seller found that the buyer wanted tweaks to fit her specific demands. And the buyer didn’t just want the seller to take her input and come back with a fix. She wanted to roll up her sleeves and get involved.

The buyer had erased that invisible wall between “vendor” and “purchaser.” Both were on the same team, working toward a common goal. And that’s a great place to be with your customers!


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