In today’s marketplace, competition is fierce and buyers have endless options available at their fingertips. Having a good product is no longer enough.
Your sales representatives must be capable of selling not only your product, but also of selling themselves as strategic advisors capable of helping solve their prospects’ and customers’ business problems. A sales rep must focus less on transactional sales, and more on building long-term relationships with your customers.
And they can do that by using a consultative sales approach.
What Is a Consultative Sales Approach?
Consultative selling is a needs-based selling approach that focuses on building a relationship with a prospect or customer, and identifying solutions to their challenges through open-ended questions and active listening.
A consultative selling process puts the buyer's needs over the needs of the sales rep. Instead of leading with a sales pitch, reps conduct sales conversations that are helpful and non-manipulative to the potential customer.
Here are 3 consultative selling strategies your sales team can implement today.
1. Conduct Research to Discover Wants and Needs
A thorough investigation of the prospect, their industry, and their organization is the first thing your salespeople should do before getting face-to-face with anyone. The more the sales rep knows about the prospect and the company—including recent company news, the marketplace, and competition—the more likely it is they will be perceived as a resource as opposed to a product specialist.
If your sales reps show up and ask questions that can easily be answered through research prior to the meeting, they will be seen as wasting the buyer’s time.
Uncovering a buyer’s wants can happen in the early interactions if your salesperson sees the prospect as a person—not just a decision maker—and learns more about what makes them tick, and why.
2. Ask Questions Based on the Prospect’s Unique Situation
While it’s important to have a list of questions developed, remind your sales reps not to simply rattle them off, which can feel scripted or like an interrogation to the prospect.
A consultative approach allows for a more fluid conversation which uncovers pain points. Active listening and pre-call planning will permit your reps to respond appropriately and dig deeper as the pain points are uncovered.
This responsive line of questioning really uncovers the challenges the prospect is facing, which can often be different from what the salesperson initially suspected. Prospects open up to effective consultative selling because the conversation is authentic, and unscripted.
Urge your reps to ask open-ended questions and to really listen to the answers. Which brings us to the next point…
3. Actually Listen to What the Prospect Has to Say
Many salespeople ask questions because they know that’s what they’re supposed to do, but they don’t really listen to the answers the prospect gives. Instead, they’re thinking about what they should say next.
It’s human nature, but when reps really shift their focus and make it their main objective to solve the prospect’s problem, there will be a sincerity to their questioning—and they’ll find what they need in the prospect’s answers. They might even find that the solution they originally thought was best for the prospect isn’t the most appropriate after all.
Coach your sales reps to slow down and ask 3-deep questions to really get to the root of an issue instead of viewing it on surface level.
Using a 3-deep questioning strategy, the conversation with a prospect might go something like this:
Sales Rep: So, you’re having delivery issues with your current supplier. How does that translate to your business?
Prospect: It’s delaying our delivery to hospitals and ambulance drivers who need and expect the products on time.
Sales Rep: What impact does that have on your efficiencies and bottom line?
Prospect: We spend a lot of time, energy, and money negotiating the returns and tracking down deliveries. It’s cutting into our profit margin substantially, not to mention it creates a ripple that ultimately affects patients.
Sales Rep: What would it mean to you to have guaranteed quality products delivered on time?
Prospect: We really want to partner with a high-quality company that can deliver on time, every time. We spent over $5,000 last year alone on issues relating to returns.
They key to successful consultative selling is keeping a strong customer focus throughout the entire process. That focus creates a win-win situation where the buyer feels supported in having their challenge solved, and the seller gains a loyal, long-term customer.
IMPACT Selling is a 6-step, buyer-focused sales process used by sales professionals around the world, in hundreds of industries. The system helps sellers connect with buyers and communicate the value of their product and services – solving challenges for the client while increasing sales revenue for the rep.
View the video below to see a client of The Brooks Group discuss her organization’s experience with IMPACT, and how it enhanced their consultative sales approach.
Want to learn how IMPACT Selling can give your sales team an edge over the competition? Request your free consultation today.
Published on September 11, 2018