Consultative Selling: Definition, Processes and Useful Tips

If you want to be successful in sales, you must take the time to understand your buyers. Your buyers are the experts in their own business, and they know what they need to be successful. 

A study from Salesforce found that 84 percent of business buyers have a higher chance of buying from sales reps who recognize their goals. Amongst those buyers, 57 percent believe that reps lack a sufficient amount of knowledge of their business.

So how do we find out their goals? What challenges are they facing? What does their business look like? Answering these questions will help you build rapport and trust with your buyers, and ultimately increase your chances of making a sale.

However, this process can’t happen overnight. It requires time, effort, a genuine interest in your buyer’s success, and most importantly: consultative selling.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the consultative sales approach and how to leverage it in your sales process. So stay tuned if you want to learn how to increase your sales and build strong relationships with your buyers.

Consultative Selling Definition

Consultative selling is a process in which a salesperson helps a customer make informed decisions about the purchase of a product or service. It involves building relationships with customers and understanding their needs, rather than simply trying to make a sale. 

Consultative selling requires more time and effort than traditional selling methods but can be more lucrative in the long run.

Salespeople who use consultative selling techniques typically have more success in closing deals, because they can build trust with customers and understand their needs. 

They also tend to have longer-term customer relationships, since customers are more likely to return when they know that they will be treated as individuals rather than just another sale. 

This sales process can be used in any type of business, but it is especially effective in industries where customers are making high-value purchases. 

Want to learn about how you can incorporate the consultative selling process into your business’s sales strategy, but don’t know where to begin? 

At Wizard of Sales, we do more than just consult with you on how to elevate your business — we can help provide your team with superb consultative sales coaching as well as any other resources and tools you need to be successful. 

Contact us today to learn more!

Examples of Consultative-Style Questions

In consultative selling, the salesperson takes on the role of advisor, working with the client to determine their needs and find the best possible solution. This can involve asking a lot of questions, as well as offering suggestions and ideas.

The goal is to help the client feel confident in their purchase decision and to build a long-term relationship based on trust.

Here are some examples of constructive consultative-style questions:

What exactly are your objectives

  • What Exactly Are Your Objectives?

When you get your client’s objectives, you’ll clarify the client’s needs and determine if the product or service being offered is a good fit.

  • So, What Exactly Are You Up to Right Now?

This question helps to get a better understanding of the client’s current situation and what changes they hope to make.

  • What Has Proven To Be Effective?

Knowing what has worked in the past will help you to understand the client’s past experiences and what they deem successful so you can put your best foot forward.

  • What Are Your Future Plans That We Need To Know About?

This question helps to plan ahead with the client and ensure that they are aware of any potential changes that could impact their relationship with your company.

When you ask these questions, you are beginning to consult with your client. You are trying to understand their needs and wants so that you can offer them a solution that best meets those needs.

The Consultative Sales Process Steps

The consultative selling process is a key sales methodology that can be used to help close more deals. Here are the steps involved in consultative selling that you should follow if you want to be successful.

Conduct Research

The first step in your sales consultation process is to conduct research. This research helps you understand your customer’s needs and how best to meet them. It also allows you to build a strong foundation for your consultative selling approach.

There are several different types of research that you can conduct, depending on your product or service and the specific needs of your customer. The most common types are customer research, market research and competitor research.

  • Customer Research is the process of understanding your customer’s needs and wants. This can include interviews, focus groups or surveys.
  • Market Research is the study of overall market trends, including the size and growth of the market, key players and segments as well as major trends.
  • Competitor Research is the study of your competitors’ products, services and prices. This can help you understand what they are doing well and where they could improve.

Once you have gathered this information, you can start to develop a consultative selling approach that meets the needs of your customers and differentiates you from your competitors.

Ask Questions to Identify Pain Points

After you’ve got all your research, you’ll want to ask your client certain questions to identify pain points. 

Pain points are areas where the client is experiencing difficulty or could be experiencing difficulty in the future. By addressing these pain points, you can show the client that you understand their needs and that you’re there to help them.

Some questions you might ask are: 

  • What are your current challenges when it comes to XYZ?
  • How have you tried to address this issue in the past?
  • What have been the results?
  • What would happen if this problem continued going unresolved?
  • What would be the benefits of resolving this issue?

By asking these questions, you can get a clear picture of what the client sees as their biggest challenges and what they hope to gain from working with you. Once you know their key pain points, you can begin addressing them head-on.

Diagnosis and SolutionsDiagnosis and Solutions

Next, you want to come up with a diagnosis and offer up solutions. This is where consultative selling comes in. 

By diagnosing the root of the problem, you can then offer up a solution that not only fixes the issue but also benefits your customer. 

For example, if a company is struggling to keep up with production demands, you might suggest implementing a new process or software that will help automate some of the work.

Not every solution will be as drastic as that though. Sometimes, just helping your customer understand what’s going on and what options they have is enough to get them back on track. 

In any case, make sure you’re always putting your customer’s best interests first and offering up solutions that solve their specific problems.

Education and Presentation

The final step in the consultative selling process is to educate and present your solution to the customer. This is where you can really shine and show the customer how your product or service can benefit them.

To educate the customer, you’ll need to know your product or service inside and out. Be prepared to answer any questions the customer may have, and be ready to explain how your product meets their needs. You should also be prepared to discuss pricing and any other possible objections the customer may have.

Once you’ve educated the customer, it’s time to present your solution. This is where you’ll want to show off your best sales pitch and explain how your product can solve the customer’s problem. 

Be sure to highlight any unique features or benefits of your product, and be prepared to answer any final questions the customer may have.

Consultative Selling Tips and Strategies

Several key skills are necessary for consultative selling, including the ability to listen carefully, ask probing questions and build rapport. In addition, the salesperson must be able to present solutions in a way that is tailored to the prospect’s needs.

If you’re looking to improve your consultative selling skills, here are some tips and strategies that can help.

Questions Should Be Balanced With Insights

When selling consultatively, it’s important to keep the conversation balanced between questions and insights. This helps ensure that you’re providing value to the customer and not just trying to sell them something. 

By asking questions and really listening to the answers, you can gain valuable insights into their needs and pain points. Then, you can share your insights and proposed solutions in a way that meets their needs. 

This consultative approach builds trust and rapport which will ultimately lead to more sales and a happy customer base.

Develop a Trusting Relationship Based on Knowledge

Consultative selling is based on developing a trusting relationship with the client. The salesperson becomes a knowledge resource for the client, providing information and advice that helps the client make decisions. They also should:

  • Listen carefully and ask questions.
  • Respond thoughtfully to client concerns.
  • Be honest and transparent.
  • Follow through on your commitments.

This type of selling requires salespeople to have in-depth knowledge of their products and services, as well as an understanding of the client’s business. 

Maintain a Conversational Tone

One of the most important consultative skills is to keep a conversational tone when speaking with clients. 

This means that you should avoid sounding like you’re reading from a script, and instead focus on having a genuine conversation. You can establish this tone by using informal language, making small talk and being responsive to the client’s questions and comments.

For example, imagine you’re a consultative salesperson selling insurance. You might start the conversation by asking the client about their day, and then follow up with questions about their family, work and hobbies. Once you’ve established a rapport, you can begin discussing the insurance products that would be most beneficial for them. 

This will not only make the client feel more comfortable, but it will also show them that you’re knowledgeable about their needs and can provide them with tailored recommendations.

Take a Lead in the Conversation

Continuing with the topic of consultative conversation, as a sales rep, you should also take the lead on where the discussion is going. 

This is important in consultative selling because you want to ensure that you are providing the customer with the information they need, rather than getting sidetracked. 

If you find yourself getting sidetracked, simply bring the conversation back to the topic at hand. By taking the lead, you can keep the customer focused on what is important and ensure that they receive the information they need.

Allow the process to be guided by feedbackAllow the Process To Be Guided by Feedback

The consultative selling process is all about getting feedback from your potential customers and using it to guide your sales efforts. This means that you need to be constantly asking questions and listening carefully to the answers. 

For instance, if your potential customer says that they are not interested in your product, you need to find out why. Is it because they don’t think it will solve their problem? Is it too expensive? 

By getting this feedback, you can tailor your sales pitch to better meet the needs of your potential customer. 

Investigate the Needs of Your Customers and Present the Results

Customers always have needs, whether they are aware of them or not. As a consultative seller, it is your job to investigate those needs and present the results to your customer. This process can be broken down into four steps:

  1. Listen to your customer. Really listen. Pay attention to what they are saying, both verbally and non-verbally.
  2. Ask probing questions. Get to the root of what the customer is trying to achieve.
  3. Conduct research. Use your knowledge and resources to find the best solution for the customer’s needs.
  4. Present your findings. Clearly and concisely present your findings to the customer, along with your recommendations for how to proceed.

Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’ll be in a much better position to consult with your customer and help them make the best decision for their needs.

Pay Close Attention

Too often, we get wrapped up in our own agendas and forget to truly listen to what our customers are saying. This can lead to frustration on both sides and a loss of potential business.

So how do we avoid this? To pay better attention to your clients, make sure you take the time to get to know them. The more you know about your customers, the better equipped you are to serve them.

Be sure to also ask questions and offer advice, rather than just trying to sell them something. By taking a consultative approach, you’re showing that you’re truly interested in helping them solve their problems.

Remember to be patient. Sometimes, it takes a while for customers to open up and tell you what they really need. Don’t try to rush them; let them take their time and tell you what’s going on. This will set you up for success in the long run.

Consultative selling is a great way to provide your customers with the best possible experience while also boosting your sales results. 

At Wizard of Sales, we can help you build a consultative sales training process designed for your business and its unique needs. 

Contact us today to get started!