Sunday 15 April 2012

Consultative Selling vs Tin Shifting

If you could sustainably shift enough tin – you could earn a very nice living thank-you. So why is the term “Tin Shifter” so sneered at?

In the good old days of IT Sales – before say year 2000, Tin Shifting is something that many resellers were good at and indeed made a lot of money doing . Some would say too much money. Money earned due to being in the right place at the right time and being able to transact orders perhaps generated some jealousy in some quarters. The more significant reason that Tin Shifting passed its sell by date is that the “easy money” attracted competition – lots of it. So much so that Tin Shifting  became harder to achieve without giving margin away to win the business.

The obvious answer was to move away from selling tin (IT Hardware). Selling Services became the goal of many organisations who enthusiastically re-invented themselves as service providers. Many got this completely wrong. They discovered that their customer base could not consume enough services and that despite popular belief, the margins to be made were not as lucrative as they first thought. This was due to the fact that service delivery carries real costs and the world of service delivery is susceptible to market forces and competition just the same as the world of hardware.

The fact is customers need tin and services (not to mention software). So how can IT suppliers “shift” all of these things, win over the competition and make some money in the process? The answer is to focus on the customer – not on the product – whether this is tin, services or otherwise.

Focus on the customer, help him figure out his needs and explore solutions. Build strong relationships and increase your influence. Use your relationships to help determine the right technologies and services for your customer – and influence them to buy  from you.  This is the essence of Consultative Selling and if you do it right, you can shift some tin in the process and a lot more besides.

Before you start selling anything, you have got to get it. Start here