A consultative sales approach is an effective method that many businesses use to sell their products and services. Consultative sales involve working closely with potential customers to understand their needs and identify the best solutions.
Before you can understand the potential impact of this sales approach, it’s crucial to understand the opposite: traditional sales.
Imagine strolling onto Wall Street and placing blind bids in the stock market. You’re in a room full of suit-clad professionals and can barely hear your own thoughts.
And because everyone else is placing bids, you start shouting your own without any context. The only thing you’re focused on is the profit you have the potential to earn. The problem? Investing wisely takes time and research. You’re more likely to lose money if you don’t know anything about the stocks you’re bidding on.
The same goes for your business. If you only care about sales and the money in your bank account, you’re operating with a traditional sales approach. And unfortunately, the traditional method is outdated.
Relational experiences are the hallmark of business success. If you’re not consistently investing in customer connections, your goals will keep collecting dust on the shelf of unattainability. Adopting a consultative mindset will greatly improve your business—and your sales will follow.
What Does it Mean to Have a Consultative Sales Approach?
At its core, a consultative sales approach requires a high degree of empathy and active listening skills. By discovering your customers’ needs, you’ll develop strong relationships that build trust and confidence in your abilities as a seller.
So what exactly does this consultative approach look like?
As stated by Rachel Kelly, “great salespeople…have an authentic consultative selling technique, combined with a genuine interest in…great customer service…”
Authenticity always wins. One of the most common consultative selling examples is the car buying experience. The salesman can’t close the sale without asking questions to understand what the customer wants in a vehicle.
And without researching what your customers are looking for, you can’t offer an effective solution and buying experience. Making the transition to a consultative sales approach isn’t something you have to achieve alone.
Wizard of Sales® is dedicated to helping you refine your selling skills and point you toward success. Book a demo today.
What You Need To Know – Study Shows
Making a shift in your sales approach from traditional to consultative requires gaining valuable insight from your customers. As business owners, we can sometimes become numb to the customer’s perspective.
Knowing what your buyers actually want will allow you to position yourself better—and close more sales.
According to a survey conducted by Hubspot:
- 50% of salespeople say they avoid being pushy, whereas 84% of customers believe they don’t.
- 62% of buyers felt that sales reps listen to their prospects’ needs, whereas 83% of sales reps believe they do.
- 74% of sales reps stated they study prospects before calls (to deliver relevant information); just 45 % of buyers agreed.
Current selling techniques aren’t serving the consumer as well as companies intend. A consultative sales approach, however, could drastically improve the buying experience.
Sales reps don’t need to shove offers down customers’ throats. Your sales team will listen to your customers with empathy instead of overlooking their needs. And, sales reps will be confident in reaching out because they’ll have all the information they need before the call.
Sound too good to be true? Sales jobs don’t have to be vicious cycles that drain the life out of your team without any result. You have the power to change the narrative and reap the benefits. And that starts with adopting a consultative sales approach.
The Basic Principles
Sales representatives who prioritize consulting with potential customers are more likely to make a sale. Reps need to be good at problem-solving and be able to offer solutions that meet the customer’s needs. Besides these general techniques, there are seven essential principles your sales team needs to know to be successful.
Conduct Research on Your Prospect
The first principle of the consultative sales approach is prospect research. This is the most important step because it allows you to learn as much as possible about your potential client.
Imagine telling your sales team to sell a product without any guidelines. That’s like sending your sales team into the field blindfolded. Without a doubt, your campaign would fail.
Research helps you understand who your customers are, their pain points and how you can provide a solution. No one likes those annoying sales calls that seem forced and propose something irrelevant to their needs. Conducting prospect research helps you avoid this by giving you the ability to create a more targeted and consultative sales approach.
This allows your salespeople to take a personalized approach to each customer, rather than using the same pitch for everyone. This means you’ll be able to offer them solutions tailored just for them, providing an enjoyable customer experience.
Therefore, prospect research is an essential tool that will help you close more deals and build stronger client relationships.
Identify Prospect’s Buying Journey
The second basic principle to adopt in your consultative sales approach is identifying your prospect’s buying journey. Depending on which of the three phases your customer is in, you’ll need to alter your sales pitch.
The three phases are known as Awareness, Interest, and Decision.
- Awareness: The customer has realized they have a problem or challenge and start to look for information on potential solutions. They don’t know much about the options available to them and are just beginning their research. It’s important to provide more information for consumers at this stage.
- Interest: The customer has a good idea of what their options are and is starting to compare and contrast different solutions. They might be looking at prices, reviews, or feature lists. Highlight what sets your product apart from competitors and define what makes you the obvious choice.
- Decision: The customer is now ready to choose a solution and make a purchase. For the most part, they’ve made up their minds about what solution they’re willing to invest in. They might need a little bit more convincing from sales reps at this stage.
Understanding your customer’s buying journey allows you to tailor your sales approach to meet their specific expectations at each stage. This can help you build stronger relationships with your customers and increase the likelihood of closing a sale. Additionally, it enables you to offer more relevant content that will move prospects further down the sales funnel.
Ultimately, this consultative principle helps you develop more effective sales strategies that drive greater success for you and your business.
Establish Trust with the Prospect
Building trust with the customer and establishing themselves as an expert is essential for sales reps. People won’t buy from a person or company they don’t trust.
Customers need to be able to rely on you to provide high-quality products or services that meet their needs. They also need to feel confident that you will be responsive and reliable. Stellar customer service is crucial if any issues arise during or after the buying process.
Proactive listening is another principle to implement into your sales process. Making a conscious effort to listen actively and attentively to your customers allows you to meet their needs. This approach puts the customer at the center of the process which is the way it should be.
There are several key benefits of proactive listening in sales. First, it allows you to gain valuable insights into what your customers need from your products or services. Proactive listening gives you an edge over your competitors by providing customers with exactly what they require.
Second, proactive listening enables you to develop personalized solutions for each customer based on their specific wants and needs. Third, it helps you build trust with your customers by demonstrating that you care about them overcoming their challenges.
Know Your Prospect’s Pain Points
Your customers’ pain points will give you critical information about the competitors in your industry. If your competitors aren’t solving your customers’ problems, it gives you a chance to save the day. You can create products or services that fill in any gaps left by your competitors, giving you the advantage.
So how do you figure out what these pain points are? There’s no single way to do this. Each business will have its own methods for gathering feedback from clients and prospects.
Some of the most common approaches include:
- Conducting surveys and focus groups – Asking your audience directly will help you gather the most accurate information about what they’re struggling with.
- Analyzing customer service interactions – Listening to how your customers talk about their problems can give you valuable insight.
- Tracking social media conversations – Monitoring what people say about your industry on social media can reveal which topics are top of mind for them.
Once you’ve collected this information, it’s time to look for patterns and trends. What problems are mentioned most often? Are there specific pain points that keep popping up regardless of who you’re talking to?
These are the issues you should address in your marketing and sales efforts.
Commitment of Closure after Careful Assessment
The next principle is the commitment to the close. After you’ve done all the research and dug deep into the lives of your customers, close the sale. There are a number of sales closing techniques you can use to seal the deal.
One of the most popular closing techniques is called Now or Never. You can either offer a special deal or create urgency to increase the chance of a successful close.
If you’re confident in your ability to help your customer with your product, they’ll be more likely to purchase. Again, authenticity always wins.
Gather Feedback and Adjust
The last principle of the consultative approach is gathering feedback and adjusting your pitch. This principle is important for two reasons. First, you need to make sure that your prospect is interested in what you’re offering. If they’re not, there’s no point in continuing the conversation.
Second, you need to be able to adjust your pitch based on feedback. Feedback allows you to determine whether or not the consumer is interested in what you have to say. Without feedback, you risk alienating your prospect or selling them something they don’t need.
Consultative selling provides a more personalized approach to sales that ultimately delivers better results for both buyers and sellers alike. If you’re ready to elevate your sales process, book a demo with Wizard of Sales® today!