How Is Consultative Selling Defined?

When you adopt a consultative approach to sales, it means that rather than telling prospects what they need from your product or service, you ask them thought-provoking questions about their needs. Ultimately the customer will steer themselves into making their best decision.

Benefits of the consultative selling approach

  • One of the best ways to increase revenue is through customer retention and growth.
  • Shorter sales cycles
  • One way to stay ahead of the competition is by adapting quickly.

As a salesperson, you need to be empathetic and helpful. You must provide prospects with the information they need in order for them to make an educated buying decision.

There are two types of sales: transactional and consultative. Transactional selling is solely focused on making a sale, while consultative sellers want to make the customer successful by providing them with great service.

If you want to be successful in a consultant sales approach, you should focus on the outcomes your customers are achieving and how satisfied they are with their purchases. You will also never see yourself as just another number; instead, think of what data is most important for that customer’s success.

Thats why when it comes to expensive, complex solutions like these, buyers want guarantees.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:Ā 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. šŸ˜€

The Most Important Characteristic of Effective Consultative Selling

Curiosity is the most important part of a consultative sales process, and it seems like many new hires forget to ask good questions that yield quality responses.

With the world changing so quickly, one of the most important things for sales leadership is to remind people that there are still thoughtful questions and conversations. They should be valued just as much as likes or follower counts.

Consultative selling techniques are rooted in the selflessness of the salesperson. Its not about proving that your product or service is the best, its about finding the solution thats right for the customer.

It is difficult to create a consultative sales team. A few best practices are listed below that you can start implementing today in order to change your consultant sales approach.

I was wrong about the power of pay. I assumed that base salary and commission structure would be enough to motivate salespeople, but it turns out they want more than just a paycheck.

1. Practice inquiring

The first takeaway from this article is that it’s important to ask better questions in order to find out what motivates people. This leads not only to higher productivity, but also more profit.

I realized the importance of a good work environment when I interviewed Katie. In her presentation, she challenged us to play “The Question Game.”

One exercise in improv comedy is to see how long you can go back and forth with another person by only asking questions.

It turns out that the game was an eye-opener. With just a few well thought out questions, you can learn so much about your team members and how they react to certain situations. The winner of Katies game asked nearly 15 in one go! We learned quite a lot from it, and now she is Lessonly’s Director of Enterprise Sales.

We started by creating sales enablement lessons within Lessonly on asking better questions. Every account executive is now assigned this training, and it has had a huge impact.

The four types of questions in consultative selling are:-What do you need? -How can I help with that? -Do you have any concerns about the product or service we offer, and if so what are they?”

  • Situation questions
  • Problem questions
  • Implication questions
  • Need-Payoff questions

There is a sales technique called SPIN Selling, which was developed by Neil Rackham. It works because it focuses on the customer.

When hiring salespeople, I learned that the best way to get them on board is by learning everything you can about their situation and what they need. This builds a foundation of trust between both parties and makes it more likely for them to close deals.

2. Engage in active listening.

We often ask the right questions, but instead of listening to their answer we are too busy preparing for our next statement. This way when they say something that makes sense or is interesting, it goes in one ear and out the other.

Recently, I’ve been in the position of being a buyer and have realized that pay is not enough to motivate employees.

The salesperson on the other end of this call sounded like he was trying to use a consultant sales approach. He called it a coaching call and at first, I believed him. However, after just one question that seemed more about qualifying me than understanding my situation, I realized his motives were not as pure.

After this, he went on to try and diagnose problems that didnt exist. He hadn’t taken the time to look into what I had said before making rude assumptions about my needs for their product.

When you are listening to someone, the focus should not be on when it is your turn to speak. You need to pay attention and understand what they are saying before responding.

1. Seek to understand the prospect’s business, their objectives and challenges2. Help them clarify their thinking by asking open-ended questions that help uncover potential risks or objections before they happen.

  • Leading questions are not the best way to have a productive conversation with your prospects. If you ask them, “What don’t you like about our competitor?” they might tell you that there is nothing wrong with their product or service.
  • One of the most common mistakes we make is that we dont listen to what people are saying. This could be because there was a lot going on and you couldn’t hear, or it could just mean they weren’t very good at communicating.
  • Be sure to understand what they are saying. Ask them for clarification if you dont get it.
  • I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. What you’re saying is
  • Once you have a good understanding of the situation, formulate your response or question.

3. Conduct your research

Its not enough to just ask questions. In consultive sales, you need to spend time researching your prospect before a conversation in order to understand what they want and why they are talking with you.

Hubspots sales training is well-known and it promises that you will learn to prioritize the right buyers as well as understand your prospects’ real challenges.

Training new reps requires them to go outside of their comfort zone and put themselves in the customer’s shoes. This is done by asking them to create a website as part of training, which forces you into understanding what your customers want.

When you are a consultative salesperson, it is your job to understand the needs of both yourself and the customer. You need to know what they want as well as their worries or fears.

How do you do this? You ask.

When youre talking to a potential customer, it can be difficult to know where they are in the buying process. It is crucial that your questions on every call reflect what resonates with them most.

I learned that sales enablement documents are not static, and should be constantly updated as reps learn more about their buyer personas. Sales enablement folks need to create battle cards or other resources that can serve as consultative sales training templates for the rep, then let them fill it out with first-hand accounts of what they know.

4. Include variety to your consultative sales process

The best way to sell is by providing a tailored solution that has been designed specifically for the customer.

In the early days of Lessonly, we were able to close a lot of small deals because our product was new and promising. However in my experience since then, these low ACV projects are typically easy with little complexity.

We could crank out low ACV and simple deal cycles like we were on a conveyor belt, but thats not a healthy way to grow a company.

When I first began hiring salespeople, I just assumed pay along with commissions and bonuses would be enough. However, people are not motivated by money alone-they want to feel like they’re actually contributing something important as well.

The Lessonly sales team is often given a word of the week to stay up-to-date with their company’s latest updates.

We set up word challenges for our salespeople to use in their interactions with prospects. For example, we might choose a random word like “chocolate” and then the challenge is that each person should try to work this into every conversation they have.

At the end of each week, we take a look at emails and phone calls to see how well our team is doing.

Its not easy to pick winners and losers when it comes to this challenge, but we often pull people together in order to see the best interactions for that word. We then review what made them great.

To motivate salespeople, it is important to add variety back into the process. If you are not sure where to start, a good place would be with an audit of your current selling processes.

If you’ve ever heard a salesperson say, “I know I’m on a good call when I get to ask these two questions,” then they’re probably not asking enough of the right ones.

Asking the same two questions in every single call is formulaic, not consultative. Your sales team cant be consultative sales therapists if theyre giving every single person the exact same prescription.

Every customer has a different problem and they will not all want the same solution.

5. Consultative sales training: Zero in on the qualifiers

One of the things that our sales team does is listen to recorded calls. We found out through this process that most successful deals are preceded by more qualifiers, or little phrases like “I’m not sure” and “let me think about it.”

  • So you mentioned
  • Im curious why.
  • I would like to ask you this next question because

To build a consultative selling process into your sales cycle, you need to focus on qualifying questions. This will make the prospect feel like they are being listened to and engaged with which in turn makes it easier for them to open up and give more of themselves.

The best way to change this is by listening for consultative qualifiers in sales calls.

  • Are your reps asking for a fuller understanding of the customer’s needs?
  • I used to think that the only way for a salesperson to succeed was by constantly telling. However, it turns out that listening is just as important.
  • I’m wondering what specific words are being used in the article.
  • When you are implementing a consultative sales model, dont make it sound like an interrogation.

Reps should ask questions and provide context during their sales pitch.

I learned that in order to create a culture of consultative selling, you need to train your team on these points.

6. Prioritize adding value.

Its easy to slip back into transactional selling, even when you are committed to consultative sales. When revenue numbers are down and the prospect of a sale is looking bleak, it may be tempting for some salespeople to revert back from consultative selling because this consultant sales approach will produce quick results. But remember that buyers want someone they can trust.

Ive learned that it is important to focus on providing value first. If you keep your eye off the ball and only worry about sales, there will be a point where you stop making money because customers don’t need what they bought anymore.

Anthony Iannariono has a way of making this happen. Heres how he does it:

Sales organizations with complex, greater value-creating solutions are focused on solving their clients most strategic challenges, spending time consulting with their dream clients, and differentiating their value propositions.. They are increasingly hiring more and paying more for people who can develop relationships. This creates a higher level of value and differentiates these companies and their offerings.

One of the most important aspects in sales is being able to understand who you are selling your product or service too. You need to know what their needs and wants are, as well as how they will be impacted by your solution.

You also need to be good at thinking outside the box. There is rarely a one-size-fits all solution, and your ability to listen carefully will help you come up with a tailored answer that sets you apart from other salespeople.

You need to be willing to recommend another solution if you feel like your product is not the right fit. You should never sell yourself short and make a prospect buy something that they do not want.

I have found that the most successful salespeople are those who provide value to their customers. In order for them to be more trustworthy, they need people’s trust and credibility which can only come from being a person of integrity.

How Do I Become a Consultative Seller? (Consultative Sales Approach)

Consultative selling is not just a question you ask in every interaction, but also an attitude. It can be hard to adopt this mindset when the prospect’s pain point has already been solved by your product.

But by implementing these best practices, you will make sure that your sales process is working and continues to be effective.

When I began hiring salespeople, I assumed that base pay and commissions would be enough motivation. However, it turns out that a paycheck is not the only thing people are motivated by.

  • A great way to gain influence with your audience is by actively listening and asking better questions.
  • To better understand your customers, do research and analyze data to find out what they want.
  • Lead the conversation
  • Tailor your consultant sales approach to the individual’s needs.

Present yourself as a credible authority.

To be successful as a consultative seller, you need to present yourself as an expert in your field. Additionally, prospects should view you not only as a salesperson but also have trust that you are someone who has their best interests at heart.

In order to be seen as an expert in your field, you need a certain level of experience and knowledge.

1. Back what you say with evidence

When you are selling, make sure to have some evidence that backs up your claims. For example, if you claim satisfied clients then provide testimonials.

If you want to become a trusted authority, it is important that your niche matches the needs of those who buy from you. By doing this, people will recognize and respect what you have to offer.

If you’re a social media marketer, then promote yourself and offer the best solutions. It’s not going to be helpful if you try your hand at many different fields such as content creation or marketing without becoming an expert in one field.

2. Embrace criticism

When you start to establish yourself as a trusted authority, it is inevitable that there will be some people who criticize your company. The important thing is how you deal with the criticism and use it for growth rather than just hiding from it.

When dealing with unhappy customers, it is important to be polite and respectful. Even if they are being hostile towards you.

When people criticize you, don’t get defensive. Just take the criticism and use it to improve yourself.

Responding to criticism will not please everyone, but it does show that you care.

3. Offer real value using content

Building trust with your audience is possible by creating quality content.

Quality content does not generate leads instantly. In fact, it can take months or years before you start seeing results from your blog posts and other articles on the internet.

Content creation is a great way to build trust with your audience because it shows them that you care about their experience and want to help.

You should be creating and pushing content regularly. The goal is to offer your audience something that will help them in their day-to-day lives, but it also needs to be easy for people who readwatch the video or listen to the podcast on a regular basis.

Here are some ways to make your content accessible:The article has a lot of good information on how to be an effective public speaker. It starts by discussing the importance of knowing one’s audience and understanding their needs before speaking with them. They also mention that it is important for speakers not only know what they want, but why they want it as well in order to create messages that will resonate with audiences and motivate action from them while maintaining authenticity. The last thing mentioned was setting expectations about time limits for speeches so there is no confusion when giving presentations or speeches

  • Case studies and white papers
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • Quality blog posts
  • Shareable infographics

Good content not only helps you gain the trust of your customers, but can also help make them more interested in buying from you. You should always be sure to share quality information that will give people advice on how they’re going through tough times.

Conduct extensive research

The other step in becoming a successful consultative seller is conducting detailed research about your prospects. When you have done this, make sure that all the information you gather can be found on your sales dashboard.

Conducting in-depth research about your prospect will help you make the sale. As such, it is important to find out as much information on them as possible, including:

  • The size of the company
  • The prospects target market
  • One year, I noticed that my salespeople were constantly changing and the average size of their deals was low.
  • Number of employees
  • I was wrong about the theory that just offering a competitive pay package and commission structure would be enough to motivate my salespeople. It turns out people are motivated by other things too, like getting benefits or recognition.
  • What makes your prospect tick

You can also see what content they publish on social media, and who their competitors are.

Start the conversation

To be a successful consultative seller, you need to balance leading the conversation and getting information from prospects. Ask questions at appropriate times that will help in providing solutions.

In order to provide the best solution, you need to ask a lot of questions. This is because understanding your prospect’s needs and wants is essential in consultative selling.

Preparation is key to meeting a prospect. You can prepare for an interview by writing down generic questions that will help you start the conversation, but its important to be able to think on your feet and ask relevant follow-up questions based off of what they say.

As you prepare for your next interview, remember to ask the following questions:

  • If your product is not too expensive for the prospect, you can still have a successful sale.
  • Have you had many people come in and ask about your product?
  • Did they feel like their current vendor was meeting all of their needs?
  • What is the prospect’s most pressing issue?

Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going. If you ask them a question and they answer, think of another one that will help lead into what it is your company does or can do for them.

Come up with a tailored solution

The final step in becoming a successful consultative seller is to build tailored solutions. A tailor-made solution means that it’s specifically customized for the customer and their exact needs, rather than one size fits all.

After you have identified a prospects needs, become an expert in their challenge and then show them how your product can help.


Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following:Ā 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. šŸ˜€
Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? Iā€™d love to hear from you!

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
Justin McGill is the Founder of LeadFuze - a lead generation platform that discovers new leads for you automatically. Get 25 leads free.