The Basics of Consultative Selling
Career Path : Sales
The key to effective consultative selling lies in the word itself: rather than approaching sales as something to be done to the customer, it seeks to work with them in understanding their needs and acting as a consultant. By developing a more collaborative interaction and establishing a sense of integrity and fundamental knowledge of the product, the salesperson can hope to develop a longer-term relationship with the buyer, setting up a series of future sales. Today’s buyer lives in a world saturated with advertising, bombarded incessantly with pop-up ads, text message special offers, and pushy agents calling at all hours. It takes a different approach than the old-style hard sell to break through the ingrained resistance and earn the buyer’s trust.
Know Your Prospect
The first step is to get to know as much as possible about the buyer before making contact. If it is an existing client, check the customer records or perhaps online resources to be properly prepared and knowledgeable. Present yourself as the solver of their problems from the beginning. Do this by demonstrating up-to-date knowledge of the industry and the customer’s place in it with a readiness to exchange useful information, even if it doesn’t necessarily apply to the current sale. In consultative selling, the salesperson learns of the buyer’s needs before talking about the product. Ask effective probing questions and genuinely listen so that the prospect feels understood and valued, though these relationship-building efforts need not come at the expense of the ABC’s: Always Be Closing. Sales strategy training stresses that by being able to target solutions specific to the client’s needs, the time needed to make a sale can actually be accelerated.
Making the Sale
Once you have a clear idea of the prospect’s situation, the solution should intuitively follow. If they have been properly qualified then your product should be at least the partial answer. State their needs in a way that will return an affirmation, questions that bring yes’s to keep the conversation flowing. Now it is time to show how your product is an optimal solution for their particular case. This should bring about the sales close but if there is still some hesitation, probe further to determine the precise objection then return to the selling process.
Things to Remember
Position yourself as a long-term ally of the prospect by taking a real interest in what they are saying and giving honest and open advice. This will inevitably encourage the buyer to trust the salesperson rather than seeing them as an adversary. By delivering on promises and demonstrating empathy the door will be opened for repeat business and faster buying decisions. It is in a company’s best interests to focus sales training efforts on considering the big picture and providing the resources to make knowledgeable agents into consultants.
Visit Fusion Learning Inc. for more information on sales management.