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Salespeople and Consultants - a Love-Hate Relationship

By Jean-Baptiste Sachot, 11:18 AM on October 6, 2016

There often appear to be tensions between these two services.

Your consultants ask you what on earth the salesperson has sold this time and how they're going to manage to stay within the budget! The salesperson doesn't understand what the project team is moaning about while he's working his socks off to get the contracts in!

Obviously, the company needs all its human resources to succeed. These two services are at worst doomed to work together and at best to enrich each other.


Their missions:

The salesperson needs to demonstrate empathy, not only towards their prospects, but to their colleagues, even more so. They need to understand the client constraints that are acceptable and those which put stress on consulting teams. Thus, they need to put themselves out to win contracts without necessarily saying yes to every client request.

As for the consultant, they are often under pressure from the costs of the project, client requests and deadlines. The combination of these constraints can unfortunately make them adopt a defensive position with regard to their project. This can lead to a distortion between the pre-sale mindset and the production of the project. Distortion that is generally highlighted by the client who is the first to bear the cost. The consultant has everything to gain by adopting a more open and affable posture.

Salespeople and consultants have two very different profiles:

Salespeople mostly have extrovert profiles with a "big mouth" tendency, combined with a great need for recognition.

Consultants are quieter and often find more recognition in results than in words.

It can sometimes be electrifying to put these two groups in the same working space. You wouldn't think of putting a wrestler and a surgeon in the same office!  

And what about the client?

What if we just got back to the person who is at the centre of the preoccupations of both groups: the client?

Has the need expressed 'pre-sale' changed since then? In project phase, you'll examine things in detail. This will systematically bring out the differences to be managed.

It's like designing an aeroplane on a computer and making test flights. You need to go into much greater detail and it is essential to put hypotheses to the test in the real world. The subject to be tackled is the same, but the context has evolved.

This is what salespeople and consultants should bear in mind at all times. They are talking about the same thing, but at different stages of maturity.

Can we get salespeople and consultants to kiss and make up?

If we begin with the principle that every human being is given a minimum intelligence, why do we persist in thinking that the other person must have made a mistake?

Let's open our eyes: most of the time, people are well-meaning and are not trying to deliberately sabotage your work.

These days, a complex pre-sale is a project in itself with the salesperson bringing a strong element of consultancy and managing a genuine pre-sale project. They have to define the stages, assess the risks, follow the indicators and organise the right skills.

As for the consultant, once the project is launched they will, in most cases, become the travelling companion for their contacts. They will occupy a privileged position and identify expectations and, therefore, offer additional services, thus becoming the best salesperson during this period.

So, are they really that different in the end?


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