Consultative Selling


Tim Lewis

Sam Cott

John Hattam is a very, very good instructor. I just thought, ‘This guy really knows what he’s talking about.’ So, over lunch I spent the time to see what further information I could pull from his vast experience.

Verified by an engineer

Sam Cott is the Business Development Manager for Cruise and Ferry at British shipbuilders Harland & Wolff. Based in Southampton, he is responsible for strategic business development, liaison with existing customers and developing global accounts. Prior to this role, Sam was the Sales Account Manager at Wärtsilä, a Finnish company that is one of the world’s largest marine engine manufacturers.

“I am in contact with my customers most days, trying to understand what their pain points are and if we’ve got a possible solution to help support them,” says Sam, 28. “I am very passionate about learning and it’s central to my career progression. I come from a very strong technical background in marine engineering but found a passion for sales when I was supporting account managers negotiate the technical quotes I had prepared. I realised that was the route I wanted to take with my career. To me, sales is problem solving and I’m very enthusiastic about solving problems for people.”


Why the Consultative Selling course?

“I’ve taken internal sales courses at various companies I’ve worked for and they have been good – but I wanted to learn more about education-based selling and gain some formal education in sales. I wanted to understand how to help customers make an educated decision on whether our product is the solution to their challenge.

“The IMechE is very well known and respected, so when the chance of this course came up, I took it open handed. Consultative selling really interested me. The days of double-glazing-type sales are gone – forget the wishy-washy sales, sales pitch patter. You are more likely to get returning customers if you sit down and listen to their problems. It’s about supporting customers and creating a partnership. And if they have a problem we can’t help with, we need to be honest about it. More often than not, though, we will have supported another customer through a similar issue.

“As I have progressed with my career, I have noticed sales is everyone’s responsibility, from the front-line engineer through to the CEO. I’ve spun spanners since I was old enough to pick one up, I was an engineering officer in the Merchant Navy and I’ve worked in the marine industry for the duration of my career. Now I am in a sales role, I utilise that technical heritage to gain credibility with my clients. This allows me to adopt a consultative role, supporting them through their challenges and guiding them through the sales process.”

What was your experience of the course?

“There were about six of us on the two-day course; one was from the same company as me, but the others were from different sectors: rail, non-destructive testing and even the IMechE. It was interesting to hear about everyone else’s challenges. In sales, you have things in common, no matter what industry you’re from.

“The instructor, John Hattam, made us very welcome from the onset and ensured everyone felt they could speak up and ask any questions. As it was over two days, we had time to ask a question, collect our thoughts and then re-approach the topic.

“There was a lot of information to take in but I’d done quite a lot of homework and hit the ground running. We covered all manner of different aspects of sales: the trust ladder, communication skills, building rapport, behavioural analysis using DISC (Dominance, influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) and more.

“DISC really struck a chord with me and I have utilised it since in my day-to-day work. I find myself referring to it and tailoring my approach according to the person in front of me. It really does help me to understand why they are the way they are and how I can support them in a manner that best suits them.

“I feel fortunate because John Hattam is a very, very good instructor. I just thought, ‘This guy really knows what he’s talking about.’ So, over lunch I spent the time to see what further information I could pull from his vast experience.”

What are the key reasons someone should attend Consultative Selling?

1 “For me, the most important revelation was DISC analysis. It’s so useful.”

2 “The course will help you to account manage properly and understand which customers are the most productive. It helped me understand my client base and which customers I should focus my efforts and time on.”

3 “You will learn some useful concepts, such as the rapport triangle – how sharing and opening up encourages other to do the same. This fosters trust and you need the customer to trust you, to build your credibility and to allow you to really utilise the consultative sales ethos.”

What’s been the impact?

“The Consultative Selling course opened my eyes to be more understanding of the person I’m talking to and how we should adapt the sales process accordingly. In sales, it’s really easy to get tied down in the here and now. Where consultative selling has helped is to look at the bigger picture. If I can understand the key drivers for their business, it is much easier to offer solutions they need, and so much easier to sell. 

“Since the course I have adapted the way in which I prepare for the delivery of the pitch, tailoring my approach in a customer-centric fashion. The course really revealed this tailoring is vital when interacting with the varying levels of stakeholders through the sales process.

“It’s difficult to correlate precisely with the course but one of my accounts grew by 120% afterwards. I’ve felt able to tackle some of their broader business challenges.”

Three pieces of advice you’d give future attendees

1 “The most important thing is that I think you need some kind of foundation knowledge about sales to really maximize what you learn on the course.”

2 “Come with an open mind. There are some things that you might feel you already know. For example, everyone in sales thinks they know how to build rapport. But when you actually drill down, there’s a set methodology you can use and it really does foster trust. It works.”

3 “Plan to implement what you’ve learned. Don’t just go on the course and say, ‘Okay, that was a good course.’ Really try to let it shape and change your work, day-to-day.”

What’s next?

“I am always interested in taking further courses but I would also love to learn more about how wider business works. When opportunities have presented themselves in the past, I’ve always grabbed them. I’ve had line managers and mentors in the past who have helped my career and I’ve been on leadership programmes. I’ve got a strong drive to progress and I’ve got aspirations to work my way up the ladder.”

Consultative Selling

  • Duration:
    2 days
  • Location
  • CPD Hours:
  • UK-Spec:
    C, D