Consultative selling has been around since the 1970s and is “needs-based” selling. Essentially it involves a salesperson uses questioning techniques to ascertain the customer’s business need and then help provide a solution with their product. While not without its criticisms - some complain that customers don’t want and advisor they want someone to step up and take responsibility, there are many benefits to the consultative selling approach. In our day and age, customers are more knowledgeable and cynical than ever; you need to build trust before they will buy. Here’s why the consultative selling approach DOES work and what you need to do to ensure success.
Dialogue Builds Rapport
Consultative selling is built upon the idea of asking customers questions to find solutions. This whole process requires a greater deal of interaction with a customer than simply selling at them, which means you have a far greater opportunity to build rapport. This is important because the relationship you build with a customer is what keeps them loyal in the long term. Without being intrusive, be sure to create a dialogue that will help you find mutual areas of interest and take an active interest in them as a person, not just a customer.
Personalisation is Key
The consultative selling approach works because today personalisation is key. Without having the opportunity to learn about your customers and their personality style, you’ll find it incredibly difficult to tailor your pitch successfully. It’s not just the answers about their business pain that are important; you can learn so much about your customers by the way they communicate, the things they find important and their personal style and behaviours. You can use this intel to ensure your presentation and pitch is tailored just for them.
Customers Are More Knowledgeable Than Ever
The internet means that the days when customers were in the dark about your company and product until a salesperson shone the light of understanding are long gone. Today, it’s likely that your customer already knows about not only your product, but your competitors and the pros and cons between you. Consultative selling works here because it allows you to help them consider an issue that they perhaps had not yet considered. Don’t waste your, or their, time asking them questions about their company you can find out with a quick Google search. Instead use your research to frame their problems in a way they had not yet thought about or found an answer. Then, help them answer the question together. To do this you’ll need to be an industry expert and be able to think on your feet based on their responses.
Despite the name, consultative selling does not mean pretending to be a “consultant.” You are, at the end of the day, there to make a sale and to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous. What it does mean is working WITH the customer or prospect to find a win-win situation that will work for you both, rather than aggressively trying to make a sale no matter what. And that’s why it’s successful, because it helps you build long-term customer relationships that are a win for both sides.
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