So, you’re managing a sales team? Whether you’ve been in sales yourself and are moving up the corporate ladder, or whether you’re coming from a non-sales background, this is an exciting time. But it’s also a challenging time because now you’re responsible for making sure that your team hits their quotas and makes their numbers.
There are a lot of different strategies and methods out there, but one that’s definitely worth considering is consultative selling.
Not quite sure what consultative selling is? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We’re giving you the 411 on all things consultative selling, including what it is, how it works, and how you can use it to your advantage.
So grab yourself a cup of coffee and settle in because it’s time to learn everything there is to know about consultative selling!
What is consultative selling?
Consultative selling is a sales technique wherein the salesperson takes a consultative or solutions-based approach to selling. Instead of simply trying to sell a product or service, the salesperson works with the prospect to identify their needs and then provides a solution that meets those needs.
In order to do this effectively, consultative selling requires a deep understanding of both the product or service being sold as well as the customer’s individual needs. The salesperson must be able to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and see the situation from their perspective. Only then can they truly understand what the customer is looking for and be able to provide an effective solution.
Let’s say your sales team is selling a business contract template to a small business owner. The consultative selling approach would be to ask questions about the customer’s business, their goals, and their struggles. By taking the time to understand the customer’s needs, the salesperson can then provide a custom-tailored solution that meets those needs precisely.
Why use consultative selling?
There are a number of advantages to consultative selling:
Builds trust and credibility
The consultative selling approach helps to build trust and credibility with the customer. By taking the time to understand their needs and provide a solutions-based approach, the salesperson is seen as a trusted advisor rather than someone who is just trying to make a quick sale.
According to Five9’s Customer Service Index 2020 report, 72% of business leaders consider “Trust in the company (the seller)” to be of the utmost importance. So if you’re looking for a way to build trust with your customers, consultative selling is definitely worth considering.
Helps close more sales
Consultative selling also tends to be more effective in closing sales. Because the salesperson has taken the time to understand the customer’s needs and build a relationship with them, the customer is more likely to trust the salesperson’s recommendation and purchase the product or service.
Leads to repeat business and referrals
Customers who have a positive experience with consultative selling are also more likely to do repeat business with the company and give referrals.
Let’s say you sell software that improves productivity of employees. If you take a consultative selling approach and help your customer to understand how the software works and how it can benefit their business, they’re more likely to not only purchase the software but also recommend it to others.
Customers acquired through referrals have a 37% higher retention rate, so this is a great way to not only increase sales but also improve customer retention.
Tips for using consultative selling
Part of managing a sales team is conducting sales coaching sessions with your salespeople. What is sales coaching, you ask? Sales coaching is the process of providing training and guidance to salespeople in order to help them improve their skills and performance.
As part of your sales coaching, you’ll want to provide tips on how best to use consultative selling. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Do your research
Before you start using consultative selling, it’s important to do your research. This means taking the time to understand both your product or service, and your customer’s needs. Going into your selling efforts totally blind will only make it harder to build trust and credibility with the customer.
Some important things to research include the customer’s industry, their competition, the solutions they’re currently leveraging, and who has decision-making authority at the company. You can do this by searching on LinkedIn, going on their company website, or even just googling their company name.
A great way to show that you’ve researched your customer is by bringing up specific pain points that they’re struggling with and tailored solutions that your product or service can provide. For example, “I noticed that you’re currently using X software. One pain point that our customers have experienced with that software is Y. Our software is designed to solve that pain point by Z.”
The whole point of consultative selling is to get to know the customer and their needs. A customer orientation mindset is critical for success with this technique. This means that you should be focused on the customer and their needs, not on your product or service.
Some great questions to ask include:
- What are your business goals? This will help you understand what the customer is trying to achieve and how your product or service can help them reach their goals.
- Who is your competition? This will give you some insight into the customer’s current situation and what they’re looking for in a solution.
- What are your biggest challenges? This will help you understand the customer’s pain points and how your product or service can help solve them.
- What solutions are you currently using? This will help you to understand the customer’s current situation and what they’re looking for in a solution.
- Why are you interested in our product/service? This will help you to understand the customer’s needs and how your product or service can meet them.
3. Listen more than you talk
It’s important to remember that the customer is the expert on their own business, not you. This means that you should spend more time listening to the customer than talking. Not only will this help you to understand their needs better, but it will also show the customer that you’re interested in them and their business.
Some ways to make sure you’re listening more than you talk include:
- Avoid interrupting the customer.
- Repeat back what the customer has said to ensure you understand.
- Ask follow-up questions.
4. Be authentic
Customers can tell when you’re being fake, so it’s important to be authentic when using consultative selling. Granted, there’s a difference between being authentic and being your true self (i.e. swearing, talking about politics, etc.), but the customer should still be able to tell that you’re genuine in your desire to help them.
It also means being honest with prospects when your product or service isn’t right for them. In fact, that’s the right thing to do, period. Largely because mis-selling benefits no one.
If you can do both of these things, you’ll increase sales and just all-around make your life easier.
5. Ask for feedback
Finally, it’s important to ask for feedback throughout the consultative selling process. This will not only help you to understand how you’re doing but also show the customer that you’re interested in their opinion.
Some great times to ask for feedback include:
- After you’ve presented your solution: This will help you to understand if the customer feels that your solution is a good fit for their needs. You could say something like, “Based on what we’ve discussed, do you feel that our solution is a good fit for your needs?”
- After the customer has had a chance to use your product or service: Let’s say you’ve sent a sales email to a customer, and they’ve opted to use your product or service. After they’ve had a chance to use it, follow up with them and ask them how they’re finding it. This will help you to understand if they’re happy with the product or service and if they have any suggestions for improvement.
So there you have it. These are just a few tips to help you get started with consultative selling. If you can master this technique, you’ll be well on your way to increasing sales and building better relationships with your customers.
Consultative sales techniques can be used over the phone, in person, or even via email targeting. No matter what method you use, the customer should always feel like you’re working in their best interest, not just trying to make a sale.
There are also many types of sales enablement tools that can help you with consultative selling. These include tools to help you with customer research, question asking, and feedback gathering.Why not take a look at our recommended 7 best sales tools to smash deals and rake in more money.
Good luck and happy selling!
**** This is a guest posft from Jessica Day. Jessica is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Diapad. Dialpad VoIP phone system is a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level— opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. ****