What Is Consultative Selling? Process, Techniques, Examples

Consultative selling is a sales approach that involves the client’s needs and wants, as opposed to the product or service being sold. Many companies are using the consultative selling approach in order to retain their customers. Consultative selling enables companies to be more proactive in the sales process and allows companies to provide a better customer service experience.

Consultative selling is the dominant sales approach of the future. In the last decade, salespeople have been taught to engage customers to manage their business needs and help them make better business decisions. Salespeople have been encouraged to use value-based selling to make their customers’ lives easier. These two sales approaches complement each other.

The concept behind consultative selling (also known as customer-centered selling) is quite simple. Instead of selling products and services to your customers, you sell them on the value of what you’re offering. This can be achieved by listening and engaging with your customer, offering value in the form of useful information or a useful service, and then leveraging that relationship to promote the sale.

Running a well-oiled sales staff requires a consultative sales strategy. The distinction between consultative and conventional sales, in my opinion, is akin to that between a therapist and a doctor.

What Is Consultative Selling, and How Does It Work?

Consultative selling is a kind of selling that involves research. Instead of telling prospects what they want, you ask them thought-provoking questions that help them discover their own problems. In the end, prospects will guide themselves to the optimal choice using a consultative sales strategy.

The advantages of using a consultative sales strategy

  • Increased income from current and new customers
  • Sales cycles are shorter.
  • Your competitive edge over your rivals

As a sales representative, your job is to be sympathetic and helpful, giving prospects the information they need to make an informed purchase choice.

Transactional selling is the polar opposite of consultative selling. Transactional selling is exclusively concerned with achieving revenue goals. While consultative selling is interested in meeting revenue objectives, it does it through assisting clients in achieving their goals. And it makes a world of difference.

When you use a consultative sales strategy, you evaluate your performance based on the effect you have on clients, the results they achieve, and their overall success. Instead of emphasizing your features and advantages, you center your message on this data. You should never treat a client as if they were a number. Instead, you see yourself as a reliable source of information.

That is, predictably, precisely what consumers want, particularly when buying costly, complicated solutions.

buyers prefer consultative selling

The Most Important Characteristic of Successful Consultative Selling

Curiosity is at the core of a consultative sales process, and I believe that today’s salespeople have lost how to ask questions that elicit excellent answers.

Sales leadership needs to emphasize the value of intelligent inquiries and how they may open up the sales process at a time where selfies, likes, and online follower counts take priority over human connection.

The selflessness of the salesman is at the heart of consultative selling methods. It’s not about demonstrating that your product or service is the greatest; it’s about helping customers discover the best option for them.

For sales executives and their teams, this isn’t always the simplest route to take, but the rewards may be spectacular. These are a few best practices you can use right now if you want your sales staff to be more consultative.

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1. Get used to asking questions.

If this first point seems to be too easy to be true, it is. The simple act of asking better questions leads to an improved bottom line without a doubt.

When Lessonly interviewed a potential employee named Katie for a sales job, this struck home for me. She challenged us to a simple game called “The Question Game” during her presentation to our team.

Anyone who loves improv comedy may recognize it. We had to test how long we could converse with another individual only via questions.

This was eye-opening. With the right inquiry, you can get a lot of information out of someone. Katie’s game winner, I believe, asked almost 15 questions in a succession. Without a doubt, the game had an effect on our team, and Katie is now the Director of Enterprise Sales at Lessonly.

Our sales executives got together soon after Katie was recruited to develop Lessonly sales enablement courses on asking better questions. Every account executive now receives this training. Our sales staff has benefited greatly from turning this often-overlooked talent into a training emphasis.

There are four different types of consultative selling questions:

  1. Questions about the situation
  2. Problem-solving questions
  3. Questions of implication
  4. Need-to-Payoff issues

This is known as SPIN Selling, a technique popularized by Neil Rackham. It works because it keeps you focused on your customers.

The greatest sales conversations begin with you knowing all you can about the buyer’s position, what they consider their most pressing requirement, and how they define success. This establishes a solid basis of trust and trustworthiness, which will almost certainly result in a closed-won transaction.

2. Engage in active listening exercises

This is more difficult than you would imagine. We ask the right “next question” all too frequently, but instead of listening to the response, we mentally plan the next thing we want to say. We don’t really pay attention to what the prospect is saying.

I just had firsthand experience with this, as a buyer.

The salesman was obviously attempting to handle the situation in a consultative manner. This initial conversation was even referred to be a coaching session. However, the qualifying questions he asked at the start of the conversation were more about qualifying me than understanding my position.

Then, in order to demonstrate his coaching abilities, he “diagnosed” issues that didn’t exist. He hadn’t bothered to look into what I had stated. He made assumptions (rude ones) and attempted to persuade me that I required their product to solve my problems.

Waiting your turn to talk isn’t the only aspect of active listening. It’s about double-checking that you comprehend what the other person is saying before replying.

Follow these steps to ensure you hear the prospect and comprehend their situation:

  1. Ask genuine consultative selling questions rather than leading inquiries aimed at persuading the prospect to agree with you.
  2. Pay attention to what they’re saying. Slow down and pay attention.
  3. Make certain you understand what they mean. If you’re not sure, look into it more.
  4. Validate and explain the situation. Replicate what the prospect stated in order for them to confirm or correct your interpretation.
  5. Decide on your answer or following inquiry only after that.

3. Do your homework

Understanding the possibility entails more than simply asking questions. To understand what your customer needs and why they’re talking to you, you need to collect a lot of information about them before you start a discussion in consultative sales.

Hubspot’s now-legendary sales training curriculum has always impressed me. They guarantee two things: you’ll learn to prioritize the appropriate customers and comprehend your prospects’ genuine problems.

They urge new representatives to build a website and attempt to generate inbound traffic to it as part of their training. This necessitates representatives immersing themselves in the customer’s environment.

A consultative sales strategy is all about this. It’s all about getting inside the prospect’s head: their aches, pains, concerns, fears, and wants.

How do you go about doing this? You’ve inquired.

If you don’t inquire, you won’t know where the prospect is in the buying process. However, keep in mind that your inquiries must be tailored to the individual you’re speaking with. If you ask the same questions on every call, you’ll miss the mark – what appeals to small companies is unlikely to pique the interest of a large client.

As your representatives get a better understanding of their customer profiles, you should continually update their sales enablement materials. Create battle cards and other materials that may be used as consultative sales training templates, and have your representatives fill them up with their own experiences and knowledge.

4. Make your consultative sales approach more interesting.

Providing unique solutions that are tailored (even if modestly) to each customer’s requirements is a fundamental component of consultative selling.

Because our product showed potential but was still new in the early days of Lessonly, we sold a lot of modest transactions. Those transactions with lower ACV, in my experience, tended to be straightforward and easy to sell with a formulaic mindset.

We could churn out low ACV and short deal cycles like on a conveyor belt, but that’s not a sustainable strategy to build a business.

Training sales representatives to include diversity into their sales process is an excellent approach to assist them in becoming more consultative in their selling.

We often offer a “word of the week” at Lessonly to keep our sales staff on their toes.

Our sales leadership team comes together for these challenges and chooses a random phrase that our AEs and SDRs should attempt to utilize in every prospect contact.

We then look back via emails, conversations, and other touchpoints at the end of the week to evaluate how the team performed.

During the challenge, we don’t select winners and losers, but we often gather everyone to showcase a few of the greatest exchanges using that term and discuss what made it amazing.

The goal of this strategy is to inject some diversity into your sales process. If you’re not sure where to begin, it’s time to do a sales process audit.

If you’ve ever heard someone remark, “I know I’m on a successful sales call if I say these two things a lot…,” that salesperson is definitely not asking enough of the appropriate questions.

It’s formulaic, not consultative, to ask the same two questions on every call. If your sales staff is giving everyone the same prescription, they can’t be consultative sales therapists.

The only thing that all of your clients have in common is that they have a problem. Almost often, the approach you choose to solve that issue will be different.

5. Consultative sales training: Pay special attention to the qualifications.

I was just listening to recorded sales conversations with the Lessonly sales leadership team, and we saw that most of our customer contacts that resulted in completed transactions had a higher number of qualifiers interspersed throughout the discussion. This contains sentences like as:

  • So, as you stated…
  • I’m interested as to why….
  • This is why I’m asking the following question…

These qualifications are minor, but crucial to the entire discussion when trying to include a consultative selling approach into your sales cycle. They demonstrate that you’re paying attention and interacting with the prospect, as well as providing clarity that enables a query to have the most effect.

Listening to your team’s sales conversations with an ear for consultative qualifications is the greatest approach to actively alter this.

  • What methods do your representatives use to get context?
  • Are they paying more attention to what you’re saying than what you’re saying?
  • What are the precise phrases they’re using?
  • Remember that a consultative sales approach should not seem like a questioning.

Throughout their sales presentation, reps should include questions and context.

These are the points on which your team should be trained. It’s how you establish a consultative selling culture.

6. Prioritize adding value.

Even if you’re dedicated to consultative selling, it’s easy to go back into transactional selling. When revenue is low, a transactional sales strategy may seem to be the best option. When this occurs, keep in mind that consumers want to work with someone they can trust.

That is why it is critical to maintain a laser-like focus on providing value. If you put your sales first, you may be able to meet your targets this quarter. What about the future, though? The goal of consultative sales is to provide value first and then trust that the sale will follow.

How do you go about doing that? Anthony Iannariono explains it thus way:

Complex, higher-value-creating sales teams are focused on addressing their customers’ most strategic problems, consulting with their ideal clients, and distinguishing their value offerings….. They’re employing more individuals who can build connections – and paying more for them. This adds value to these businesses and distinguishes them from the competition.

The ability to work with people is crucial. You must be able to identify the individuals who will be most affected by your solution inside the target company, then speak with them and advocate for them with the bean counters and decision makers.

You must also be able to think beyond the box. There is seldom a one-size-fits-all answer, and your ability to listen to the requirements of the prospect and provide a tailored solution may easily set you apart from the competition.

Most importantly, if your answer isn’t the greatest match, you must be ready to suggest something different, knowing that you may be the best fit later. Because, in the end, you’re selling yourself and the prospect short if you’re not providing genuine, concrete value.

Long-term success in sales depends on building trust and credibility. By offering value in advance (even if it means losing the sale), you earn a reputation as someone who treats people right. In the long run, that will earn you more business and give you far more success.

How Do I Become a Consultative Seller? How Do I Become a Consultative Seller?

How do you get started now that you know what consultative selling is? It may be difficult to ask consultative selling questions in every encounter as a salesman, especially when you’re certain that your solution will address the prospect’s problem.

By ensuring that you are addressing the appropriate issue for the right people, including these best practices into your sales process will guarantee the healthy development of your team and business.

Implementing a consultative sales process may be broken down into the following steps:

  • By actively listening and asking excellent questions, you may establish yourself as a trustworthy expert.
  • To better understand your consumers, do in-depth research.
  • Take the lead in the discussion.
  • Create a solution that is unique to them.

Present yourself as a reliable source of information.

You must portray yourself as a trusted expert in order to succeed as a consultative salesperson. You should also be trustworthy in the eyes of your employer and coworkers. Ensure that your prospects view you not just as a salesman, but also as an expert.

So, how can you position yourself as a subject matter expert and authority in your field?

1. Provide proof to back up your claims.

Whether it’s during a sales meeting, a phone conversation, or anything else, you should always have proof to back up your ideas and assertions. If you claim to have serviced many happy customers, for example, provide some testimonials with your proposal.

You should try to become an expert in your field if you want to be seen as a credible authority. Make certain that the specialty you choose connects with and fulfills the requirements of your prospects.

If you work in social media marketing, promote yourself, work to become an expert, and provide the finest services. It’s not a good idea to become a jack of all crafts in a variety of areas, such as media marketing and content production, and an expert in none of them.

2. Be open to criticism.

Even if you provide the finest answers, you may face criticism from a few rivals as you establish yourself as a trusted expert. What counts is how you respond to criticism. Instead of avoiding it, embrace it and utilize it to improve your sales skills. As a result, you must react to the problems that have been presented at you.

However, please avoid being nasty to anybody, even the biggest trolls, while responding. If you’re dealing with a disgruntled consumer, make sure you don’t come off as harsh or dismissive.

Responding to criticism is not a chance to show off your prowess. You just want to demonstrate that you value all input, good and bad, and that you are willing to address any concerns expressed by anybody.

It’s important to keep in mind that reacting to criticism may not make everyone pleased. It will, however, go a long way toward demonstrating that you are concerned.

3. Use content to provide genuine value.

Creating good content is a great approach to earn your audience’s trust.

However, content creation may not take a day to win your prospects’ trust. Don’t expect to start a blog and start receiving leads on your website immediately. Content creation can take months or years before it starts generating leads. Quality content offers real value to your customers, which makes them trust you as an authoritative source.

Here’s how you can use content production to create trust:

Create new material on a regular basis and promote it via your social media channels. Make sure the information you produce is useful to your target audience. Make sure that your information is both shareable and consumable.

You may make your material more accessible to your target audiences by doing the following:

  • White papers and case studies
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • Blog postings of high quality
  • Infographics that may be shared

Quality content may not only help you earn your consumers’ confidence, but it can also help you become more influential. You should constantly offer information that will assist your audience in dealing with different life problems.

Conduct extensive research.

The second stage in being a great consultative salesperson is to do in-depth prospect research. The goal of in-depth research is to learn as much as possible about your potential client. Make sure your sales dashboard has all of the data you’ve uncovered.

Conducting in-depth research about your prospect may assist you in securing profitable agreements. As a result, you’ll want to learn all you can about your lead, including:

  • The scale of the business
  • The prospect’s intended audience
  • Their yearly revenue or average sales volume
  • Employees’ number
  • A typical product or a service offering
  • What makes your potential client tick?

You may also learn if the prospects use their social media channels, what kind of material they post, and who their rivals are.

Take the lead in the discussion.

To be an effective consultative salesperson, you must learn to strike a balance between leading a discussion and obtaining critical information from the prospect. As a result, it’s critical that you ask the correct questions at the right time and come up with the right answers.

In consultative selling, it’s critical to understand your prospect’s requirements. As a result, you should ask a lot of questions while speaking with a prospect. In order to provide the finest answers, you must ask the correct questions.

You may prepare a list of basic questions before meeting with a prospect to help you start the discussion. You must, however, be able to think quickly and ask pertinent questions in response to the prospect’s answers.

Consider the following when you compose the general questions:

  • If your product is inside the pricing range of your prospects,
  • Has your product piqued the attention of your prospects?
  • Is their existing vendor a good fit for them?
  • What is the most significant issue that the prospect is now experiencing in their business?

Consider questions that, when answered, will result in a new conversion. Pose inquiries that demonstrate your genuine interest in resolving their issues.

Come up with a solution that is unique to you.

The last stage in being a great consultative salesperson is to provide a customized solution. A customised solution, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all cookie cutter solution, is precisely suited to that individual client and their exact requirements.

After you’ve figured out what the prospect’s issues are, immerse yourself in the situation, and then demonstrate how your solution can help.

Consultative selling is a different type of selling that engages customers and prospects to actively participate in the process of selling. This includes offering personal guidance, education and advice as well as facilitating in-person meetings, so people can ask questions and build a relationship with the sales person. It is a technique that is based on trust and communication, and is designed to help people buy solutions from you.. Read more about consultative selling questions and let us know what you think.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is consultative selling give examples?

Consultative selling is a sales technique that involves the seller and buyer meeting to discuss the customers needs, wants, and expectations.

What is consultative selling method?

Consultative selling is a type of sales technique in which the seller attempts to understand what the customer wants and then helps them find it.

What are 8 steps of consultative selling?

The 8 steps of consultative selling are as follows: 1. Clarify the customers needs and wants 2. Create a list of possible solutions to meet those needs and wants 3. Present the customer with these solutions in an organized manner 4. Discuss the pros and cons of each solution 5. Make a decision based on what is best for the customer 6. Follow up with the customer after making this decision to ensure that they are satisfied with their purchase

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