It’s a well-known fact that people don’t like being ‘sold to’.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all found ourselves trying to escape an awkward interaction with a salesperson that doesn’t bother to understand our situation before pushing their product.
So, what is consultative selling?
Consultative selling is an approach that prioritises relationship building and open dialogue to identify a genuine need, rather than focussing on the sale itself.
It’s a process in which the salesperson seeks to learn before they seek to educate. They tailor their solution based on the specific needs of each individual prospect.
Why is it effective?
Consultative selling allows the prospect to feel in control, valued & listened to. It builds levels of trust that many other ways of selling simply don’t create.
After a purchasing decision is made, a prospect that has been sold to in a consultative format won’t walk away with buyers remorse but rather, reinforcing the benefits and positive outcomes of their decision.
Let’s have a look at some of the key principles.
1. Learn before you educate
Often salespeople are more interested in talking about their product than they are about understanding the prospects needs.
Seeking to learn before seeking to educate is a important quality of a consultative seller.
- Ask open ended questions to increase engagement
- Use follow-on questions to bring depth to the insights
- Avoid assumptions at all costs
By seeking to learn first, we can properly understand and demonstrate both the WHAT (features) & the WHY (benefits).
2. Listen more than you talk
As salespeople, we generally love the spotlight. It’s important to remind ourselves this isn’t about us.
Consultative selling requires salespeople to make a conscious effort to actively listen.
Active Listening can be broken down into five important steps –
- Stay focussed
- Be curious
- Paraphrase & summarise
- Let them finish
- Be genuine & empathetic
3. Tailor your solution
A consultative seller does not facilitate ‘one size fits all’ sales pitches. They tailor them based on the specific needs of each individual prospect.
Our ability to do this is entirely governed by the efforts and effectiveness of our Qualification. In other words, did we take the time to understand before we attempted to pitch?
If the answer is ‘no’ – we will only be able to present on features, or the ‘what’. By tailoring our solution and defining the ‘why’ we are able to clearly demonstrate the prospect’s all-important WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).
4. Be genuine
Most salespeople have mastered their fake laugh. Whilst relatively harmless, don’t make the mistake of applying this ingenuity to anything other than bad jokes.
Consultative selling requires the salesperson to be genuine in…
- Their efforts to understand the current state of play
- Their desire to find solutions & fix problems
- Their empathy for the prospect’s challenges & frustrations
The process of consultative selling inevitably improves customer experience, promotes loyalty, demonstrates clear value and encourages additional business.
If you want your prospect listening to you, start by listening to them.