The idea of consultative selling is nothing new at this point. Everybody boasts that their sales process is “customer centric” and “consultative”. What does that really mean?
To understand consultative selling, we first need to understand how the sales profession itself has evolved. Before the internet was prevalent, buyers had limited options for conducting procurement research. Their best source of information was the sales representative and their materials.
Due to the seller’s hold on information regarding solutions and its utilization throughout the industry, presentation skills were vital to be a sales professional. Buyer’s did not expect much more from sellers - as long as a salesperson could effectively tell prospects about the solution and pricing, the seller fulfilled the expectations that buyers had in mind.
This all started to change as the internet created almost endless resources for researching products and solutions. Buyers no longer need sales people to come into their office to tell them about a product or a solution. They can figure that out on their own. You can see evidence of this phenomenon by observing how quickly the sales development role has proliferated and taken hold. Almost every sales team now has a dedicated team whose sole purpose is to simply get in the door with companies.
What then? What happens when you get in the door? Buyer’s don’t need to give up 30 minutes to “learn about your new products”. Buyers are willing to give up 30 minutes if they can get insights and valuable advice that can not be received through browsing the web. Therefore, consultative selling is the practice of conducting sales in a way that provides valuable insights and timely information that helps both sellers and buyers make the best possible decision for their business.
The importance of consultative selling should be pretty evident - there is no other option for sales people. Buyers are smart and they are already doing their research before picking up the phone. If sales people want to remain relevant and a critical part of a successful business, they have to learn the skills that allow them to be insightful throughout the entire sales process. The sales calls and visits that buyers are a part of need to provide inherent value to the customer even before they have ever signed a check. That is the level of insight and competency that buyer’s demand from modern sales professionals.
The method for delivering this level of insight and value to your prospect is a much larger discussion and a single blog would not suffice. However, there are two skills that are paramount in the pursuit of sales excellence: attentive listening and questioning skills. If you are able to make your prospects feel truly heard, and are able to respond with relevant advice and insightful questions, you are on your way to becoming a consultative seller.
Help your sales team become more consultative to their buyers by training them on attentive listening and questioning skills. Request a consultation to learn more.