By bringing together two skills, selling products or services and consulting, consultative selling can get many advantages to your company
Consultative selling is the process in which the salesperson acts as a consultant: they diagnose and understand the customer’s situation so that, together, they can conclude whether the offer makes sense. In consultative selling, the salesperson investigates whether the product or service offered is the ideal solution to solve the customer’s problems.
Does your company do consultative selling?
This methodology, which arises from the union of two skills, that of selling products or services and consulting, can bring many advantages to your company.
If you are not yet familiar with the concept, read the post to find out what consultative selling is, its benefits, steps, and how to put it into practice. And even more: if you are a salesperson looking to work in the area, see what skills are needed.
What is consultative selling?
Consultative selling is a type of selling in which the salesperson also acts as a consultant. Rather than selling at all costs, the professional listens to the prospect, understands their needs, and jointly seeks the most appropriate solution.
In this format, the salesperson must investigate whether the product or service they are offering makes sense to solve the consumer’s problems. Only then do they present the solutions.
This concept emerged in the 1970s, with the launch of the book Consultative Selling, by B2B salesman Mack Hanan. In work, the author shows how salespeople can establish a partnership with their customers, helping them make the best business decisions.
Consultative selling differs significantly from traditional selling; in this, the salesperson is not concerned with investing in the problems faced by the customer. Efforts are directed towards closing the sale. In consultative selling, on the other hand, the salesperson needs to prepare by studying the prospect. Before going to the offer, he talks and understands the moment the customer goes through.
While they are different selling approaches, this does not mean that they are exclusive. Sometimes one method may be more effective, sometimes the other, and it is even possible to use both at the same time.
The six steps of consultative selling
Once you understand consultative selling and its advantages, look at the steps to carry it out. This makes it easier to understand how the model works in practice.
Customer prospecting is the time to identify the people or companies that need your product or service to solve the problems they face in their day-to-day lives.
One way to do this is through, for example, Content Marketing, which offers rich materials in exchange for their contact information. You can also use other Digital Marketing tools, such as paid media ads.
But prospecting can also be done in other ways, for example, through social media, asking for directions from existing customers, going to trade fairs, events, and networking.
After prospecting, the next step in consultative selling is qualification. The idea here is to use the list of contacts outlined above to filter out those who could benefit from a consultative approach and your products or services.
This is a way to save time by avoiding contacting those contacts whose profile does not make sense for your company.
Now is the time to get in touch to understand if your product or service makes sense for this person or company. It is time to get to know this contact in-depth, to know how the company can help them.
More than a beautiful business presentation, creating a personalized approach for that contact is crucial based on the information you have gathered. This will prevent you from using terms too technical for a person who is not interested in them, for example, by adapting the language.
Also, remember to listen more than talk. You should be open to hearing and not present yourself with a ready-made monologue. Also, you should show the value (not the price) of your product or service and focus not on the features themselves but on how they meet that person’s needs.
In the negotiation, the salesperson must present a commercial proposal, again constructed personalized. It would help if you listened, without turning the negotiation into a dispute, showed the value of your product or service, and answered questions.
As the objective is to satisfy both parties, it is also important to make concessions intelligently, without overstepping limits to conclude the negotiation.
If all the previous steps are well developed, closing should be the easiest part, a natural conclusion of the process. If the seller has acted in a consultative manner, the buyer has confidence in him and knows that he is getting a proposal that suits his needs.
This is where some formalities occur, such as sending documents and reviewing specific details. Expectations must also be well aligned. It is good to take advantage of this moment to define the following steps: if it is software that will be implemented in the company, determine the schedule and know which professionals will be involved, for example.
At this stage, the foundations are laid for the customer’s experience with your company to be satisfactory, which can guarantee, in the future, not only the retention of this customer but also the recommendation to others.
Consultative selling does not end with the signing of the contract. Then there is the post-sale, a step that can allow you to sell even more to the same consumer. You need to make sure that the customer gets the most out of your product or service at this stage. They may continue to buy, or they may recommend your business to friends and family.