Today, successful sellers act as trusted advisers to their buyers to help them find the best solutions. By adopting a consultative selling strategy, salespeople create value in the selling process and benefit from better sales results, stronger customer bases and referrals.
What is consultative selling?
Consultative selling is defined as “personal selling in which a salesperson plays the role of a consultant” by www.businessdictionary.com. It’s a sales method where the salesperson gains a solid understanding of the buyer’s challenges before recommending a solution. An important distinction from other methods is that the main objective is helping the prospect find the right solution, not just getting him to “sign on the dotted line.” The key elements of consultative selling fall into four categories: research, relationship, resolution and reward.
Today’s customer is much savvier than in the past and is doing his homework before buying. The explosion of digital media has made it easy for people to access information online and share experiences with each other. The buyer has already explored solutions, competitors, and prices and is well educated by the time a vendor comes calling. The salesperson has to do his research, too, and can take advantage of “lead intelligence” to learn about his prospects and home in on the most qualified leads.
The consultative salesperson is an industry expert who “gets it” and wants to help. He continues to learn more about his prospect’s challenges and obstacles by asking open-ended questions to uncover his real motivation for buying. He builds trust by sharing his knowledge without asking for anything in return.
If the seller’s products are determined to be a good fit for the buyer, the salesperson presents the customer-specific benefits of his products, figures out the next steps in the purchasing process and establishes a timeline for closing the sale. If it is clear that he can’t meet the buyer’s needs, it is completely acceptable for him to recommend an alternative solution, even if it’s a competitor!
No matter the outcome, consultative selling results in a valuable experience for both sides. The buyer is able to get advice from an industry expert who helps him understand his obstacles and navigate a solution. By investing time to provide tailored, customized solutions, salespeople will enjoy better closing rates, higher value sales, increased customer retention and referrals.
In the end, consultative selling is about helping prospects find solutions. Salespeople who take the time to fully understand their buyers’ needs and challenges are in the best position to recommend the right solutions. They will be rewarded with satisfied, loyal supporters.