Consultative Selling – 8 Fundamental Steps For Sales Success

Here’s your ultimate guide to understanding and implementing the Consultative Selling methodology into your sales process.

What is Consultative Selling?

Consultative selling is a term that we hear a lot, and I want to share with you, well, what exactly is consultative selling, and how can you do it? I’m going to share with you some do’s and don’ts around consultative selling.

Do’s & Don’ts Of Consultative Selling

You need to know everything about your products and services. Man, you need to be a product expert — we got lots of videos on this topic. It would be best if you were a product expert. You need to know everything about your product. However, you don’t have to share everything about your product with your customer. Don’t overwhelm them with information, right? They don’t need to know everything about your products and services. But if they have a question for you, you need to know.

Number two, have a clear roadmap of your sales process. So you need to know what are my timelines? What are my sales targets? How close to attaining target am I? What are my standard operating procedures? How do things work in my organization? You need to be clear about your roadmap.

You also need to ask questions and uncover problems. That’s what makes you a consultant, right? Ask questions, uncover problems. That’s how you could find out what are the biggest challenges that your customer has.

Finally, while most people are selling products and services — not you — as a consultative sales professional, you’re selling solutions. You’re not selling a package, you’re not selling a promotion, you’re not selling a product, or a service, or a feature, or a benefit, you’re selling a solution to their problem.

A Summary Of Consultative Selling

Here’s the keys to consultative selling: Number one, you need to know everything about your products and services. It would be best if you were product experts. Number two, have a clear roadmap for the sales process. That’s what makes you a sales professional. Step three, ask lots of questions to uncover problems. Step four, sell solutions, not products.

The 8 Golden Rules to Consultative Selling

Rule #1 Of Consultative Selling: Know Everything About Your Products

Where can you get this knowledge? You can:

  • go on a plant tour
  • do a site inspection
  • talk to people in other departments
  • read your brochures and other marketing materials
  • talk to customers
  • talk to other vendors and suppliers

Thus it helps you of being solution-focused and remember your customers are looking to you for answers and solutions and I know that you can be the one to offer it to them.

Rule #2 Of Consultative Selling: Establish a Clear Sales Roadmap

Have a clear sales roadmap of your consultative selling process. Without a clear sales roadmap, you risk losing your prospects due to skipping vital steps in the sales process. Do you know what actions you or your prospect must take to close a sale? Do you know where along your sales roadmap your current prospects are?

By recognising what it took to close that sale, you’ll be crystal clear about what to do next to move the sale along. Maybe someone contacted you about your product or service and you sent them your brochure but nothing has happened since. Should you now be scheduling a call or inviting them to visit your showroom?

Rule #3 Of Consultative Selling: Ask Questions

Ask probing question to uncover problems. Prospect will not naturally tell you their problem, you are one that has to ask about what problem are they facing. Customers purchase products or services based on their problems so it’s important to know the problem and only then you can sell on the solution.

Rule #4: Don’t Underestimate Your Customer’s Knowledge

Sales reps often underestimate your customer’s knowledge and try to smoke through them in order to close the sales. With the world of internet of things, it’s easier for them to gain the required knowledge to go about choosing the right products for them so they know their stuff. However, you know more about how your product able to better help them, leap on that.

Rule #5: Don’t Make Assumptions

Don’t wing it. It easy to make assumptions, it just the how the brains work. We found out patterns and fill in the blanks however those blank, may not be the solution your customer want. Everyone filled the blanks differently so ask them how they going to fill that blank.

Rule #6: Don’t Make Things Up

The no.1 sin that most sales rep are guilty about. We as a sales rep tend portray ourselves as product expert and knows a lot of thing so that our customer are impressed by our knowledge. There’s knowledge and wisdom, both are two different things. Knowledge is about telling what you need to know while wisdom is is about telling how you should apply those knowledge and customer can see that when you make things up.

Rule #7: Share Solutions

Share solution even the solution is not your products offering because this helps build rapport. Also, don’t just list features as a solution but also list benefits as they a saying goes:

“People want to hang the photo frame on the walls, they don’t want drills, holes, they just want the frame on the walls”

-Anonymous

Rule #8: Demonstrate Value

In Consultative Selling, you want to demonstrate value by focusing on the benefits. You aren’t selling a product or a service, you’re selling an outcome, a solution to their problem. Nowadays every good sales rep is selling solutions so how is your solution is better than the others? Value. Demonstrate them. Show them that you providing more than just a solution but a companion, someone that will show them the way. Instead of viewing prospects as transactional customers, you sell to once, you view them as partners in a long-term selling relationship.

An Example of Consultative Selling

A consultative sales person is one that asks questions to uncover the needs of their prospect so they can suggest the best solution.

When I went shopping for a new video camera recently I came across your typical ‘order taker’ as well as a sales professional that practices consultative selling. Here’s my example of consultative selling in action:

I went in to an electronics to store to buy a new video camera. The one I was using was giving me poor quality footage so I was looking to replace it with another camcorder which I pointed out to the salesperson. The one I chose costed a lot more than my current video camera so I figured the quality must be superior!

The sales person took it down from the shelf and was ready to ring it up for me when another sales person at the shop started talking to me. He asked me what kind of videos I do and what I planned to use the camera for. He wasn’t trying to take the other person’s sale, he was genuinely curious.

After talking for a bit he found out I was only taking short videos for social media and that I wasn’t getting the results I wanted out of my current video camera. With this information, he explained that the one I was about to buy wasn’t much better than what I was using. He suggested instead a new mirrorless camera that can record for hours with far superior video quality.

After listening to him some more I realised how right he was and switched to the camera he suggested which was the same price as the one I was about to purchase.

The first sales person is an example of your typical ‘order taker’ -just does what the customer says. The second sales person is one that practices consultative selling. They ask questions to uncover pain points and to fully understand what customer’s needs are.

If I had bought the original camcorder, there’s a very good chance I would have been frustrated and unhappy with the results and returned it the next day.

Because the other sales person was able to diagnose my needs which allowed him to ‘prescribe’ the right solution for me, I went home with a camera that exceeded my expectations. I ended up loving my new camera so much I bought a second one from the consultative salesperson 3 month later. True story.

The Problem with Consultative Selling

While consultative selling is a valuable methodology that many sales professionals should adopt, there’s also a need to take it one step further.

The problem with consultative selling is that it can be seen as too passive. It gives too much control to the prospect and not enough to the salesperson. With this in mind many organisations are choosing to adopt more of a ‘challenger sales’ methodology. A methodology that not only asks lots of questions, but also positions the sales professional as a valuable asset, one that the prospect can’t ‘live’ without and one that can push for the sale without being aggressive.

This is a more advance approach so should only be applied by seasoned sales professionals.

Get a Quote for a Consultative Selling Training

Need help implementing a sales methodology that incorporates the fundamentals of consultative selling at your organisation? We can help! That’s all we do all day, every day is help organisations train their sales team in the most cutting edge sales techniques that are adapted to their selling situations. This often includes a combination of consultative, challenger and qualifying methodologies. We’re experts in sales training.

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