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How To Become A Consultant

I believe that the difference between a salesman and a consultant is the way that they appear to the buyer. A salesman is pushy, and may seem greedy or unhelpful, and you can tell that their main focus is to make a sale at all costs, even if it is the wrong item that doesn’t fit your needs or criteria.

A consultant on the other hand, provides assistance, knows their products and is able to provide solutions to your wants or needs, thus helping to alleviate “pain.” (What I mean by pain is a discomfort or unknowing that we possess when we are unsure of something. By alleviating pain a consultant is able to go to the root of the problem and provide a helpful diagnosis by answering questions and pointing out a solution). In the end, it’s the consultant that becomes successful and is able to close on the sales while the salesperson is usually left trying to figure out what went wrong, but not knowing what to do.

We’ve all experienced these types of people. When was the last time you went into a store needing something only to be frustrated because the person dealing with you was not listening to your needs? I experienced this last month when I needed to purchase a laptop. When I explained to the salesman what I was looking for and what my budget was, he went off trying to recommend one to me 5 times higher than what I was willing to pay, and loaded with capabilities that I did not need. Then he went on and on talking about his own personal life and how he knew what he was talking about because he loved his computer and so on. It just became so frustrating to deal with.

“Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “what about my issues? He wants me to purchase something I don’t want, and then he expects me to pay for it? And what do I care about his personal life? How is this going to help my needs?

Does this sound familiar? Maybe you’ve experienced something similar?

About 3 weeks ago I received a call from a flustered customer. Apparently not very happy, he was on the phone voicing his displeasure as to how he felt he was being treated from our Customer Service end. He mentioned that he was bounced around and no one was willing to help him, so he had called up the Affiliates desk because he didn't know who else to turn to.

This is where my training from my past days as an Account Executive kicked in and I decided to act. What did I do you might be wondering? Well, I sat on the phone with him and …. said nothing... As simple as that…. Just absolute silence on my end of the phone. I let him voice his displeasure and I took notes. I jotted down his points and when he was done, we went over each point and I provided a solution and acted on them as I said I would. I didn’t pass blame on anyone, I didn’t disagree with him, I just gave him what he wanted: answers to his problems and I apologized for his inconveniences. I didn’t apologize for bad service (for maybe he was just having a bad day and felt that he was receiving bad service when he might not have been) and I didn’t apologize for anything else. In all honesty, he figured out the answers he needed himself, I was just there to guide him. His issues were things that weren’t very difficult, but at his time in need they meant the world to him.

Of course I followed up with him to make sure everything was ok afterwards, and from his response came the one reply that had made my day: “I had spent an hour getting bounced around by your customer service team, and all the while it only took you 3 minutes to fix my problems. “

And all I did was listen and let him work out the problem himself. I didn’t say anything until it was my time to speak, and I provided him a point to begin resolving his pain.

These are two different scenarios that ended with two different outcomes. In the end of the first story, the salesman provided so much confusion and discomfort for me that I had left the store shaking my head in disbelief. In the next story, by listening and providing direction, the customer had figured out the answers himself and was able to rid himself of his pain.

So how can you apply this tactic to yourself or to your websites? Simple. The first thing to being a good consultant is to know your products. Many web designers like to place affiliate ads from companies and they know nothing about what they are advertising. How can you help someone if you don’t know anything about the product? When choosing banners from companies, it’s good to know information about who the company is, what they do, what their top products are, and how these products work.

This leads me to my next point. So now you are ready to advertise your banners and your page is looking spiffy. Did you remember to include content? Remember, being a consultant means providing answers! This is why it’s so important to know your company. Content on your website complements your banners and allows your customers to decide for themselves why they should click on those banners. Based on the content you include, could make a huge impact on your sales by helping people to decide on whether or not to purchase.

Include actual reviews and testimonials and use them to your advantage. It’s always to your benefit to be able to talk about how “so & so” had a problem, but by “doing this or that,” it fixed it right up. This is where you can come in and recommend a solution based on a similar problem that the customer may be having. This is a great way to close a sale.

Keep up with your customers! With online affiliate sales, you’re not always going to know every one of them, but you will receive emails from a few every now and then who may have questions or suggestions. It’s always important to reply to these customers and to follow up with them. This provides you an exceptional service that goes “above and beyond.” Plus it allows you to build a positive repoire, guaranteeing that many of them will come back as repeat shoppers or send others your way.

So now you’re set and ready to go. Being a good consultant doesn’t happen overnight, but with constant practice, and remembering these key points, you’ll be able to provide the best service you can, and make a positive name for your site and for yourself.


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