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Consultative Selling

What is consultative selling?

Consultative selling is a selling approach where the seller spends some time with the customer to discuss their problems and requirements before recommending a product or service that will solve the problem.

Everyone is aware that the primary purpose of selling is to make profits, but it goes beyond the revenue. It would be best if you always strive hard to make sure your customers are satisfied. Your customers can only be happy when you offer them products that meet their requirements.

Quality is necessary, but you can do better if you take your time to find out your customer’s problems. Consultative selling does not focus on selling a particular product but suggesting a product that meets its requirements. In the long run, the salesperson may forge a lasting relationship with the customer and will be able to offer customized products/services that meet their needs.

Sometimes, the customer may buy a cheap product that meets his need even more than buying a more expensive product.

An example

Now, let me share one of my past experiences as an example of consultative selling. About five years ago, I decided to buy a new laptop because my old PC gave me many issues. At the computer shop, a particular Laptop caught my attention. It appeared to be authentic and attractive. I went straight for it, checked the price, and took it straight to the salesperson. The salesperson then inquired about my reason for buying the laptop. I told him, it’s for Programming and coding. He then advised me not to buy the computer because it wouldn’t function well for coding. He moved to the counters within a jiffy, brought another Laptop, and gave it to me. It was a lot cheaper than the one I wanted to buy earlier. I’ve been using the laptop for over five years now without hitches. That was a typical example of consultative selling. I bought a cheaper and better Laptop that suited my requirements because of the salesperson’s advice.

What is the importance of consultative selling?

Consultative selling is critical because it fosters long term relationships and trust between the salesman and the buyer. This is essential in customer loyalty and retention.

Using the consultative selling approach, the seller will not consider his gains or schedule as the focal point. Consultative selling aims to identify the customers’ problems, discuss it with them, and prefer solutions by providing personalized goods and services. With this in mind, the seller will have an intimate dialogue with the customer, ask questions, and inquire about their current struggles and plans.

As a sales professional, I’m sure you know that product differentiation will help you a great deal, as you will personalize your products/services making it unique. Unique products/services stand out from the crowd and endear the salesperson to the buyer because of the value they derive. For instance, I have always been happy with the salesperson whenever I use my laptop because of its usefulness. I have gone back to buy a couple of computer appliances from the shop, and I have referred my friends and colleagues to buy from there. When customers are satisfied, their retention is inevitable. Happy customers become loyal to your brand, and referrals will increase.

Is consultative selling always the best approach?

As a seller practicing consultative selling, your focus is on selling the ‘’solution’’ and not the ‘’product.’’ You will serve more as an adviser or consultant to the buyer. However, consultative selling does not work at all times despite all the juicy benefits in it. Consultative selling requires patience, excellent communication, and interpersonal skills. The seller should ask in-depth questions that will reveal the seller’s problems and the ideal solution.

It is often the best-selling approach, but in reality, it is not possible to practice consultative selling with all customers. Consultative selling may not work if the customer is difficult to convince, or the salesperson may not establish chemistry with the customer.

More so, some salespersons do not have interpersonal skills, so they can’t just convince people. They instead prefer to engage in direct transactions with customers.

Mood and season is another factor. You don’t expect a depressed or angry customer to enjoy your ‘’gospel.’’ They may not wish to talk to anyone, and they’d prefer you sell to them quickly without any advice or consultation.

What are the seven steps of the sales approach?

Consultative selling is very strategic, and you have to be very curious to unravel essential information about the prospect. You need to be well-versed with some skills and strategies. Having a good grasp of these skills will enable you to apply the consultative approach with ease consistently. However, here are the seven steps to follow in a consultative approach.

1. Research

Research is the first step in consultative selling. You should never attempt to sell any item without enough information. Spend some time to research about the prospect’s industry and needs. You should know whether they have decision-making power in their home or company. When you research beforehand, you will anticipate the questions the customer will ask. With this, you will be able to provide personalized answers that meet the needs of the prospect.

2. Prepare Questions and answers

It would be best if you preempt the questions that the prospect will ask and provide personalized solutions. Consultative selling is human-centric, so you should be ready to provide insights that will open up the conversation. By anticipating the questions and the answers, you will decipher the solutions to possible challenges and issues that may hinder the sales.

Questions such as what, how, why, and where are very important, but you should balance the issues and insights. Always provide enough insights because the prospects may feel that you are interrogating them if you ask too many endless questions.

3. Engage in a structured dialogue

Your questions should be well-structured, so you don’t rush to throw questions on the prospect. Engage them and ask them questions based on what they say. Don’t use the information you gathered during the Research to draw your conclusions.

As a consultative salesperson, you should allow the customer to talk more during the conversation’s initial stage.

4. Listen actively

Active listening is critical in consultative selling. It is not all about verbal listening. You should pay attention to the customer, their tone, body language, emotions, and enthusiasm. Don’t listen passively and don’t interrupt the customer when they are talking. Please don’t do any other thing when they are explaining things to you. However, your client should not feel like he is talking to a robot, so you should offer intermittent feelers like ‘okay,’ ‘I understand,’ etc. Jot down the essential information that they reveal in their responses so that you can provide customer-centric solutions.

5. Showcase your value

You aim to exceed the expectations of your customer. I know about that, but you should demonstrate it to them. Narrate past successes to them. Show them testimonials and positive reviews from previous customers.

6. Focus on leads that are ready to buy

As a consultative seller, helping the customer is your first point of call. However, it could be detrimental if you spend lots of time in conversations with a customer who is not ready to take action. Time is a precious resource, so strategize your sales funnel and emphasize clients who have well-defined business goals, budgets, and timelines.

7. Please encourage buyers to take action while closing

Closing in on the deal may be instant or might take days or weeks. End the discussion by highlighting the solutions as well as the value they will get from your product. Use some ‘’call to action’’ words with the right blend of the terms and tones the prospects used during the dialogue.

What are the consultative selling skills?

Consultative selling skills are those skills that help sales professionals to provide customer-centric solutions. If you acquire these skills, you will be able to achieve the following essential steps strategically:

  • prepare
  • connect
  • understand
  • recommend
  • commit
  • act

Your solutions will be compelling, satisfactory, and provide a long-term platform relationship with your customers with excellent consultative selling skills.

What is a Consultative Process?

The consultative process is a strategic way of providing advice, guidance, suggestions, and recommendations to assist clients in business transactions that are cost-effective and sustainable. It is merely a win-win method of solving problems, and it helps create more commitment and trust from clients.

What is the first step in consultative selling?

The first step in consultative selling is Research. It is not only the first but one of the essential steps in the consultative process.

What is the Difference between transactional selling & consultative selling?

It’s time to shed more light on the two modes of selling – transactional selling and consultative selling.

In transactional selling, the customer decides to buy by considering its price, features, and availability. The customer’s decision is centered on these three issues, and this mode of selling is standard in most retail centers. Now, think of the times you went to the mall to buy groceries and other personal items.

The selling procedure is mostly transactional. Most of these malls have only sales clerks and cashiers you pay money to after picking your goods. Do you remember those times you went straight to the counters to check the product names and prices? I’m sure you made your choice based on the amount and features. This is purely transactional since there is little or no advice from the salesperson. The focus is more on the product rather than the benefits.

On the other hand, consultative selling is all about value.

The focus of consultative selling is on value. This approach does not emphasize what the customer is buying but why he is buying it. In this case, the ‘why’ is how the product will positively affect the productivity, cost of operation, profitability, etc.? Here, the salesperson has lots of responsibilities other than the product and pricing. The salesperson has to know more about the customers, their goals as well as their expected results.

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mark@marksclaire.com

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