To make sure the consultative process works, here are some pitfalls distributors should avoid.

Tuscaloosa, AL – Consultative selling is one of the most powerful selling techniques jansan distributors and account reps have available to market their products and services.

According to Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing for AFFLINK, developer of the ELEVATE® system, consultative selling can be defined as:

An exchange of information in which the salesperson uncovers an understanding of a facility’s needs and helps the customer select products and services that will address those needs.

However, Wilson says many customers don’t know exactly what their needs and challenges are, which can make the process difficult.

“This means the salesperson must ask questions. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.”

According to Wilson, to make sure the consultative process works, here are some pitfalls distributors should avoid:

Avoid turning the sales process into Dragnet.

The now-famous television series, Dragnet, starred two cops who rattled off questions in their search for “Just the Facts.” While this may have worked on TV, it rarely works with clients. 

Instead, guide the prospect with questions based on the conversation. Show genuine interest, empathy, and your desire to understand their issues.

Avoid leading questions.

A “leading question” is a question that contains its own answer. Many distributors are taught this technique because it helps them focus the customer on their product offerings. However, the customer can feel manipulated, start putting up defenses, and become skeptical.

Instead, keep asking questions that show your interest in the client’s needs and then slowly introduce your products and services, discussing how they can help address those needs. 

Avoid “convincing” behaviors.

Studies have shown that when salespeople try to convince a client to purchase a product, it creates negative “vibes.”*

Instead of convincing, concerned behavior creates much more positive energy, helps stimulate conversations, and builds mutual trust, one of the cornerstones of consultative selling.

 “[The] consultative selling approach is powerful, results in sales, and can build long-term relationship,” adds Wilson. “Doing it right brings it to life.”

*The Neurochemistry of Positive Conversations, by Dr. Judith Glaser, business consultant, and Richard D. Glasser, Ph.D. in Biochemistry.


Connecting more than 200 manufacturers of Facility Maintenance, Packaging, Safety, Office and Industrial Supply solutions with nearly 300 independent distribution experts, AFFLINK ( is just as its name suggests – that critical link offering clients innovative products, market expertise and improved profitability, all of which is fueled by our leading-edge information technology. 


ELEVATE ( is a free consulting software application designed to help manage supply chain costs for today’s leading businesses. Perfect for executive level professionals looking to optimize their supply chain in the Commercial Real Estate, Healthcare, Industrial and Hospitality markets.

Cleaning Business Today
is a publication of Tom Stewart and Derek Christian, who also partner in Castle Keepers House Cleaning, one of the fastest growing professional house cleaning services in the US.