Sales is all about relationships. If you want to be successful, you need to build strong relationships with your clients and potential customers. Consultative selling is a great way to do this.
Consultative selling is all about taking the time to understand your client’s needs and then providing them with solutions that meet those needs. It’s not about pushing products or services on people; it’s about helping them solve their problems.
I’ve personally found consultative selling to be incredibly effective in my own career as a sales professional. When I take the time to listen to my clients and understand their needs, I’m able to sell them the products and services they need – not just what I think they should buy from me.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your sales skills, consultative selling is definitely something you should focus on perfecting. Trust me, it will make a world of difference in your success!
Consultative Selling: A Sales Technique to Establish Rapport
Consultative selling is a sales technique employed to establish a rapport with potential customers and learn about their needs, rather than selling a specific product or service. The goal is to understand the customer’s problem and offer a solution that meets their needs. This type of selling requires a high level of knowledge about the product or service being offered, as well as the ability to listen to the customer and understand their needs.
What is Consultative Selling?
In consultative sales, the salesperson focuses heavily on researching and preparing for a customer meeting. They do this by really listening to what their customers are saying and asking.
The consultative sales approach is not the old hard-press, pushy, and aggressive pitch of days past.
Instead of focusing on selling a product, sales professionals should focus on building rapport with their customers, gaining knowledge about their industry, being flexible with their offerings, and tailoring their product or service to the specific needs of the customer.
This sales approach requires asking questions that engage customers in a dialogue and really listening to what your customers are saying.
Consultative selling is a methodology in which communication is key. By communicating effectively, you can make a significant impact on meeting your sales goals.
Does your sales process involve building a connection with your prospect? Listening carefully to their needs and concerns? Offering solutions to their problems without bombarding them with sales pitches?
If you want to improve your conversations with customers, or if you’re already doing a good job, here are some tips to help you.
How Consultative Selling Works
The consultative selling approach is advantageous because it allows the salesperson to build rapport quickly. Additionally, the salesperson presents themselves as a resource for their prospects, which can help further the sale.
The relationship-building comes from your willingness to share with your prospects helpful information without expecting anything back.
The potential buyer is likely to reach out to the seller again whenever they have a question or concern about that area of interest, demonstrating the seller’s expertise.
The consultative sales process is tailored to the needs of the client, so it may shift from client to client.
Here are the steps that are typically involved with this sales technique.
Steps to Optimize Your Consultative Selling
These are some ways to get started with Consultative Selling.
Before you meet with a potential client, you should research them. Find out what you can about them, such as their background and their company.
Use social media, review sites, and their company’s website to gather as much information as you can. The more research you do, the better prepared you’ll be.
It’s important to understand your prospect’s competitors. What are they doing that your potential customer isn’t? This helps you figure out how your product or service can help them be a better business.
If your product can help them become a better competitor, they’ll be more likely to invest in it.
That’s one benefit that will definitely sell.
2. Ask Questions
When you meet with a customer, don’t jump right into trying to sell them something. First, get to know them.
Ask questions that will encourage a conversation. Don’t just give a sales pitch.
Consultative sales involve opening lines of communication, acting in the best interest of your customers, and creating a long-lasting relationship with them that extends beyond the first sale.
3. Don’t Just Listen, Listen Actively
Listening carefully to a customer’s responses is important, but so is listening to their tone of voice.
Pay attention to their body language. This can help you better understand what they are trying to say.
In a post on DocuRate, a highly successful salesperson, Ariana Amplo, advises that salespeople should listen to a prospect’s goals. If you truly listen to their goals, you’ll realize that it isn’t just the first one they mention that matters, but the second one or third.
If you’re only speaking 20% of the time to your clients, you’re doing it wrong. You need to let the client do most of the talking, otherwise, you won’t learn enough about them to give them a proper consultation.
4. Be Authentic
If you want to succeed in sales, you can’t just move on to the next client after giving your pitch. You must first make sure that they see value in your solution. To do this, you must understand their needs, and only then can you use your solution to convince them that it is the right one for them.
Once you know what your prospects’ needs are, you can show how your solution can fulfill those needs. By tailoring your solution to their specific needs, you can demonstrate to them how your product or service can resolve their issue.
In consultative selling, the salesperson uses the product to demonstrate how it can solve the customer’s problem. This is done by asking questions about the customer’s specific situation and then showing how the product can be used to address those needs.
Let’s say you’re a rep for a company that offers inventory management. You could say something like, “You told me if, at the end of the month, you could have a report showing which products are in-stock and which aren’t, then you’d be able to save money.”
5. Follow Up
Follow-up is key. You aren’t always going to make a sale on the first attempt.
Follow up with your customers in a timely fashion, but be persistent. It may take some time for them to get through their internal process.
It’s important to keep in contact with your potential clients. You can do this by providing them with relevant emails, interacting with them via social media, or calling them directly. This will keep your company and your product at the forefront of their minds.
3 Examples of Consultative Selling in Action
Here are a few examples of when to use consultative selling to increase revenue.
Consultative sales is a more indirect approach to a sale, but it will always result in customer satisfaction.
1. Simple Tip Goes A Long Way
An energy-based SaaS company is working with a city government to reduce a building’s energy consumption. The buyers believe that they will require an overhaul of their electrical system.
By simply asking a few questions, sales reps can figure out when their clients’ cities use the most water. By recommending that the client shift their water usage by one hour, the rep can save a lot of money for the city.
The sales rep then gave this advice (for no extra fee) and went on to discuss other strategies that could help the client save money. He discussed the pros and cons of refitting the wiring as originally requested by the client.
When presenting the different plans, he addresses the concerns of the customer that were raised previously in the discussion. This lets the clients know that their needs are met with each plan.
When presenting the services to a client, it’s helpful to address their concerns first. This makes them feel like they’ve been listened to and that their needs are being met. This often leads to them agreeing to two out of the three service options you present.
2. Overdeliver by Underselling
A small business owner was having trouble understanding her website’s analytics. She contacted a conversion rate expert to help her understand her site’s performance. Her biggest concern was the high amount of bounces she was getting.
She came to the marketing agency with the hopes that their copy and website design would keep visitors on her website longer.
The blog’s author had correctly identified her problem — a high bounce rate — but the salesman asked her some additional questions.
Bounce Rate Problem Sold!
She liked the writing but thought that it could be made better. She also mentioned that the design of her website could be changed.
The rep could have simply ignored the questions, but he decided to answer them to better understand the prospect’s current situation.
The phone call was a casual conversation, where we went back and forth until we had all bases covered in our interview.
After realizing that the blogger was content with their current design, the sales rep suggested that they not hire a web designer or writer. Instead, he suggested that they use their heatmaps tool to diagnose the bounce-rate issue.
The blogger was surprised to find that about 60% of her visitors were having issues with her pop-up ads.
While this might not seem like a big deal, this is the best outcome from a sales perspective.
The rep may have not closed the sale, but they did establish a solid foundation for a trustful relationship with the client, which will result in them being the go-to marketing agency for all their future marketing efforts.
The blogger now knows that this agency truly values her success. They asked specific questions about what she does and how she prefers to be contacted. She’ll likely work with them for all of her future marketing needs.
3. Expertise Is Priceless
An Amazon Seller contacted a manufacturer for pricing on a product that he wanted to start selling on Amazon.
The supplier asked the Amazon merchant about his intentions for selling the item and what the current market conditions were before providing a quote. This allowed them to recommend an easy-to-source add-on item that could easily be added to the order at little additional cost.
The supplier’s years of experience in the industry allowed them to provide an insightful recommendation of a bonus product that could be easily sourced and added a little extra cost, which would likely increase sales significantly based on similar case studies.
The suppliers were able to provide us with a few success stories of other merchants who had used their services, which boosted their revenue.
Instead of making a cold call to this potential buyer, the supplier could have simply sent a quote over e-mail. This would have saved them a lot of time and hassle.
Instead of bombarding the client with a bunch of questions, he simply asked a few open-ended questions that showed the client:
The experts’ questions were aimed at showing:
- That he is knowledgeable of the market
- That he is interested in helping the business
- That he has great business acumen and would be an asset to this business.
It’s highly unlikely that this client would choose any other manufacturer over ours. We have the expertise and experience that they need to get the job done right.
How to Start Consultative Selling?
Some common steps in a consultative selling process may include:
- Build rapport and trust with the potential customer.
- Understand the customer’s needs and requirements.
- Demonstrate how your product or service can meet those needs.
- Address any concerns or objections the customer may have.
- Create a custom solution for the customer.
- Negotiate pricing and terms.
- Close the sale.
- Follow up post-sale.
Why is Consultative Selling Important?
Consultative selling is important because it allows salespeople to build relationships with their customers and learn about their needs. This type of selling helps salespeople understand their customers’ businesses and find the best solutions for them. By taking the time to consult with their customers, salespeople can build trust and credibility, which can lead to repeat business and referrals.
If you want to be successful in sales, consultative selling is key. By taking the time to understand your client’s needs and then providing them with solutions that meet those needs, you’ll build strong relationships that will lead to success.
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