Articles Consultative Selling: 8 Ways to Sell Smarter

Consultative Selling: 8 Ways to Sell Smarter

Vlad Kovalskiy
7 min
Updated: January 18, 2024
Vlad Kovalskiy
Updated: January 18, 2024
Consultative Selling: 8 Ways to Sell Smarter

Today, many salespeople are embracing a consultative selling approach that implies focusing on customer's needs and interests, instead of highlighting the advantages of certain products and services. It lets them build productive and long-lasting relationships with customers, which is essential for any business.

The Concept of Consultative Selling

Consultative selling puts the needs of clients at the center of the sales process. By actively engaging in a comprehensive dialogue, you can explore the interests of customers and build trust. Having the needed information at your disposal allows you to find the right solution for your clients, which helps create a positive buying experience and foster long-term relationships with them.

The following characteristics of consultative selling can be outlined:

  1. It puts emphasis on values.
  2. Prices are less important than values.
  3. Value is defined by the client.
  4. Sellers help define values/advantages.
  5. Sellers can sell more by working smarter, not harder.

Why is Consultative Selling Important?

Nowadays buyers have a lot of options and competing for their attention might be hard. When purchasing products or services, they consider not only their quality but the brand trustworthiness as well.

Without establishing strong relationships, you risk losing your customers over time. So an efficient sales strategy should be based on building lasting and meaningful connections, which proves to be a good way for a company to survive in a competitive environment.

Implementing the concept of consultative selling lets you obtain a great deal of information about the desires of your customers. It provides an opportunity to offer a customized solution to match their needs.

Here is the list of 8 effective techniques that can help you apply the concept to your sales process:

1. Conduct thorough research

The key objective of doing research before interacting with your customer is to be prepared to answer their questions more effectively. It will likely help you determine what kind of questions they may have, so you can think about the right response to them in advance.

You may do your research on social media platforms and see what type of content they have, and check whether they own a website or not. If you are working with a certain enterprise, you can also look for its latest event publications or news and use this information to form a better understanding of its state. Researching potential gaps and needs in advance lets you determine various ways to customize your product and create differentiated value.

2. Practice careful questioning

In a traditional sales concept, it is usually the salesperson who mainly speaks and describes the benefits of products and services. In consultative selling, it is different since the goal is to pose several questions to encourage customers or prospects to talk about their needs, interests, or lifestyle in general. There should not be too many questions, or, otherwise, it can make them feel like they are being interrogated.

This technique will help you engage in a constructive discussion, which will provide you with valuable information. To start your discussion, you may ask some basic questions and continue by carefully introducing more specific ones.

3. Be honest and genuine

If you wish to better understand your customers and build long-lasting relationships with them, then you need to be authentic. You should show interest in what you are selling and who you are selling it to. Make sure your customers feel respected, understood, and genuinely cared for. Under no circumstances should they feel manipulated. Otherwise, it will never help you build credibility and foster strong relationships.

If at some point you understand that your product will probably not be a good fit for your customer, you should be honest and tell them about that. Yes, you will likely not make a sale but you will build credibility and gain loyalty. It can lead to future sales.

Being genuine also implies meaning what you say. Trying to fake your attitude is not the way you want to interact with people if you wish to succeed in consultative selling. Some people can sense inauthenticity, so this approach will never work with them. You should understand the value of your product and be able to explain it to your customers.

4. Be an active listener

If you wish to successfully implement the concept of consultative selling, you should attentively listen to what your client has to say. When you practice active listening, you become fully immersed in what the other person is saying. It is the opposite of passive hearing when someone is listening to the speaker but in an unconscious manner.

Being an active listener can help you easily recall specific details of your conversation without needing them to be repeated. When listening, try to be patient and withhold your judgment. Avoid abruptly changing the subject since it may seem you are not that interested in what is being said. One crucial aspect of active listening is to not interrupt your interlocutor and let them finish their speech. For example, you can add such a phrase as "I see" every now and then to show that you comprehend their message. This method also implies paying attention to face expressions and body language. If you notice your customer is distracted by something else, you may suggest meeting at another time.

5. Be open to feedback

Facing problems at some point is inevitable in any sphere. Do not be discouraged if you receive negative feedback. Use it to improve your work. Even the strongest objections may be turned to your advantage since they clarify what people want from your service.

In consultative selling, it is crucial to take every piece of feedback into consideration. You can take notes to not miss important details. Try to address all their concerns on time. Do not hesitate to check with them whether the offered solutions meet their requirements. It shows you are open to a collaborative sales process.

It would be great to provide a two-way communication channel that people can access. For instance, it can be a website contact form or social media accounts.

6. Provide various options

In today's world, having multiple options has become normal. So people usually expect to have more choices available to them. However, it is not always a good thing. Psychological studies show that people who are given a limited set of options often make their decisions faster.

The thing is that there should not be too many choices since it can become overwhelming for your customers. It can complicate the process of decision making and lead to stress and questions like, "What if I made the wrong choice?" Offer several personalized solutions based on the client's needs. A customized solution can be developed and used for a specific purpose and include only those features and functionalities that are necessary for a certain project. Also, if your client is experiencing a problem with your service, you can provide several options to solve it. Make sure your solutions are as clear as possible.

7. Keep in touch

Keeping in touch with your clients even when they are not buying from you can help your company remain within their top-of-mind awareness. People tend to get into habits and opt for something that is familiar to them. For instance, you can sustain communication by sending articles that are related to your services.

Staying in touch may be efficient as long as you do not spam people with messages. You can also try a personalized approach. Today, we mainly communicate using digital tools. At times, it is easy to get lost in hundreds of various messages. You may consider sending your clients personalized handwritten cards or notes to remind them about a meeting, thank them for attending an event, etc. An original handwritten card will likely stand out from the rest of their mail.

8. Be patient

Establishing lasting connections might take a while. You will require patience and consistent effort. Do not expect to make a sale at your first meeting. Your clients may need to consult with their colleagues. So do not push them into making a purchasing decision. Trying to sell right away may be common for traditional sales methods. Consultative selling is all about communication and building a solid foundation.

If you do not get any feedback for a long time, you may reach out to them by sending an email and carefully ask about their decision-making process.

An Example of Consultative Selling

A man walks into a store intending to purchase a laptop. He immediately sets his eyes on a pricey device with an appealing design. Purchasing it means going over his planned budget. Pressed for time, he decides to opt for it anyway. A sales assistant comes up to the buyer and asks, "What do you mostly need a laptop for?" The buyer answers, I mainly use it for accessing the Internet and working with Word processing programs. The assistant offers a much cheaper device that contains all the necessary functions.

The concept of consultative selling works because it helps people better understand their business issues and find solutions to meet their requirements. It builds trust, which is a key component of buyers' receptivity to the seller's insights.
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