In an ultra competitive world, companies need to be more creative about how they attractive new business. Asking lots of questions and being a consultant is one of the top ways to be more to your customer. By asking good questions, you can find “pain” that needs to be addressed. For example, a customer may find that it is costly to inventory 24 individual country languages for a medical product that is shipped to multiple countries. Your suggestion would be to consider a multi paged booklet label that turns 24 pages into one inventory item.
We take this process one step further. We review the business and look for issues that the customer may not know they have. The buyer probably knew that her inventory issue with the different country labels was a problem. She simply didn’t know the best way to solve it. The former is good, but your “A game” is to bring up issues that the customer is unaware that she is going to have.
A good example might be telling a customer about GHS in the early days of development. Global Harmonization is a global project that involves getting chemical companies to use the same symbology on their products across all countries involved. This makes it safer for the users and less confusing for the chemical companies when they prepare their labeling. You would stand out by bringing the issue up with the company as most sales people are more interested in addressing what is known rather than doing research and presenting what is unknown. It is much easier to become a supplier to a company when you come with fresh ideas on how to help with future problems. This gives the buyer a chance to address the future issues early with her company. Taking out any political issues, this can do nothing but make everybody look good.
If you want to be valuable to your customer/partner, you must take the consultative sale to the next level. The business, the buyer and you will all gain.