When adopting a consultative approach to selling, as a sales professional, you should act more like a consultant than a conventional sales person. Rather than pitching the features, advantages and benefits of a product or service, a consultative sales person makes recommendations based on their buyers’ most pressing needs and desires.
By acting like a consultant rather than a conventional salesperson, you will put yourself in a great position to create long-term relationships with customers that are based on trust. This adds significant value to each and every sale, making customers all the more likely to buy from you instead of a competitor.
Here are 4 quick tips that will enable you to master consultative selling:
Tip 1: Be a Problem-Solver:
Consultative selling requires sales people to approach selling in the same way that they would to solving a problem. You need to treat any customer pain, need or desire as a problem (or opportunity) that your company can solve.
A good knowledge of your own company’s capabilities is necessary to align the customer’s problems with the right product or service. However, it’s also important to open discussions around the customer’s pressures, pains and desires before aligning them with the features, advantages and benefits of your product or service. To become a problem-solver, sales people need to qualify that the problem exists and can be solved before pitching their solutions.
Tip 2: Become a Trusted Advisor:
When consultative selling, moving the discussion from the customer’s problems to their desires will transform your relationships with potential clients. By applying a consultative selling technique, you will be perceived as more of a trusted advisor than a sales person.
Once you are perceived by your customers as a problem-solving trusted advisor, consultative selling can transform the buyer/seller relationship into a novice/trusted advisor relationship.
Tip 3: Probe with Open Questions:
To truly master consultative selling, you need to be great at asking the right questions about the customer’s pressures, problems and desires for improvement. By asking open-ended questions (i.e. who, what, where, why, when…), you can probe their deepest motives, feelings and attitudes towards the solution.
By probing the customer’s pressures, the implications of failing to respond to these pressures (the potential pain) and the customer’s desire for improvement, the customer’s needs can be shaped and urgency can be created.
Consultative selling through open-ended questions will enhance your understanding of the buyer’s situation. This will make you much better equipped to qualify sales opportunities and align the buyer’s pains and desires with the solutions you have to offer, giving the customer confidence in your recommendations.
Tip 4: Give the Customer Added Value:
Finally, as a consultative sales professional, you must learn how to create added value for your customers. Here you need to enhance the value of your solution to differentiate your offer from the competition.
Added value comprises the tangible advantages and benefits that your company offers over and above the product or service that is being proposing. This may be a ‘right-first-time’ delivery guarantee that you know is better than that of the competition, or a managed implementation service that you can deliver across the region.
But remember, each ‘value-added offer’ must be specific to your own organisation’s capabilities and must increase the value of the overall solution to the client that has been aligned directly to their most pressing need. When aligned directly to this need, added value will not only enable you to differentiate your offer from competitors, but it will actually allow you to charge a premium. You will be able to not only increase your chances of winning deals, but you will also find it much easier to up-sell and cross-sell during the meeting!
If you’re not already applying the above techniques, consultative selling will enable you to gain a much clearer understanding of the customer’s world. By achieving a clearer understanding of the customer’s most pressing needs and desires, you’ll able to play the role of a consultant and trusted advisor who aligns their solutions with their customer’s problems. By implementing an effective consultative selling methodology, you will be able to determine you customer’s most pressing pains and desires and respond accordingly.
For more information on how to master the art of consultative selling, download our free Guide to Consultative Selling
Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase