As a sales professional, you want to convert a potential sales prospect into a paying customer quickly. But are the needs and concerns of your prospect the central part of this conversion plan? If not, then your sales journey might get a bit difficult.
There are chances that the prospects might exit your sales cycle at any stage due to dissatisfaction. For avoiding this from happening, it is essential to understand your sales prospect needs and build a good rapport with them. This can be done through the medium of consultative selling.
What’s there for you in this article:
“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where the two meet” – Kevin Stirtz
Consultative selling is an approach that focuses on buyer needs. In simple terms, a sales professional acts as a consultant and helps the prospect in finding a solution for their ongoing problem.
Instead of making a sales pitch, sales reps try to engage the buyers in a meaningful dialogue using their questioning skills. Through such substantive interaction, the sales rep discovers the prospect’s most pressing business issues.
Then genuine efforts are made to overcome these issues of the sales prospect.
Consultative selling is based on a formula of strategic questioning. Socrates, the great philosopher, used strategic questioning to help his pupils solve problems, ferment complex ideas, and come to their own conclusion.
Implementing Socratic questioning while using consultative selling methodology can be really helpful. Most of the time, prospects aren’t aware of their problems. By asking strategic questions, you help the prospects put their problems in their own words.
While answering the questions, the prospects realize what their true needs and challenges are. Moreover, by listening to the prospect’s business pain points from a caring and attentive standpoint, you are building a foundation of trust. The prospects will be more interested in hearing your proposal as you’ve taken the time to hear them first.
When the sales reps adopt a consultative sales approach, their mindset changes. They begin focusing on building trust-based relationships. Sales reps start asking probing questions that reveal the prospect’s current state and desired future state. Due to their courteous treatment and excellent performance they are perceived as trusted advisors by the prospects
The consultative sales methodology helps sales reps in attaining quotas, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing customer referrals.
There are several benefits of adopting the consultative sales technique.
The significant difference between the two is that in product-focused selling emphasis is laid on the product while in consultative selling it is all about the buyers.
In product-focused selling:
In consultative selling
It is tough to survive with a product-centric approach in the modern buying environment where the buyers are quite smart and well-informed.
If you don’t pay attention to their concerns, they will instantly switch towards your competitors. And without a doubt, your competitors will be more than happy to welcome your customers.
“if you don’t take care of your customer, your competitor will”- Bob Hooey
The only way to succeed in sales is by giving the buyers more importance. Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and understand their perspective.
Build a bond of trust by displaying genuine interest in the prospects’ businesses and the problems surrounding it. Be a consultant to your prospects and direct them towards a lucrative pathway.
Below are the steps for effective consultative selling:
Consultative selling is all about knowing your potential sales prospects.
Before you connect with the prospects, ensure you collect enough information about them. To be a sales advisor, you need to dig as deep as possible.
Go through their social media accounts, websites, PR and reviews posted about them on various reviewing sites.
Answers to these questions are critical for creating a good impression on the prospects. They need to know you’ve done your homework before approaching them.
Prospects prefer interacting with such sales reps who have basic knowledge about their problems. Think about it, wouldn’t you like it if someone knows what you need without you telling them.
Make your prospects comfortable to ask more personalized questions for diagnosing their problems.
Be very cautious while questioning your clients. You can’t afford to offend or exasperate them. However, don’t hesitate to ask any specific questions. Just ensure the questions you ask are relevant.
In consultative selling, it is necessary to build a bond. The questions you ask are crucial for driving a consultative dialogue. So, they need to be thought-provoking and unique to each client. This is the reason you need to pre-plan by researching about the prospects.
If you have done your research and studied their market, then you will be able to ask questions like:
Besides you can even ask direct questions to learn about the prospects:
Dialogue is the key to successful consultative selling. You cannot have a dialogue without active listening. You have an amazing set of questions, but they need to flow in a conversation naturally at the right time.
Instead of thinking what to ask next, focus on the answers of the prospects and based on that, frame the next question. These answers have a wealth of information so don’t ignore them.
The best thing to do is to use a customer relationship management tool with the built-in virtual phone system. In this way, your prospects’ details will be in front of you to communicate more effectively.
Plus, you can keep track of the conversation with them by recording the sales call. So, you don’t need to depend on your memory as there are chances you might forget some details.
You can hear the recording at any time for understanding the concerns of the sales prospects.
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Now that you have understood your prospects’ problems, it is time to present the solution. This is the tricky part, so act wisely. You are expected to tailor your solution to their needs. Be direct and clear.
While presenting the solution, ensure that you don’t make any promises that you can’t fulfill later. It will just spoil your image and lead to churn. Instead, try to gain your prospect’s confidence by accepting responsibility for the results.
Clear all the doubts of your prospects; they shouldn’t take the buying decision under any pressure as it might cause a problem later. Consultative selling is all about directing the buyers, so help them until the end.
You can’t expect the prospects to purchase as soon as you present the solution. There might be more that one person involved in taking the buying decision.
They will have to discuss the solution and look over various factors. This might take a little time, but that doesn’t mean you don’t follow up.
Consultative selling strategy can help you build a loyal customer base if used smartly. Here are a few tips for using the consultative sales methodology effectively.
Have a proper plan before connecting with the prospect. You should be able to strike a meaningful conversation and make the prospect comfortable from the beginning. Make a list of points that you need to cover while communicating with potential buyers. Create a set of questions for uncovering the needs and challenges of the prospect.
Consultative selling is based on trust and integrity. So, during a consultative sales call, you need to prove that everything you are saying is true. If you say that your product has helped many customers solve a similar issue that the prospect is currently facing, then prove it by sharing case studies or testimonials.
Avoid generic content while using the consultative sales approach. Personalization is essential at all stages of the sales pipeline. Whether you are calling a prospect or sending an email, make sure you personalize your conversation. Address the prospect’s needs and concerns. Assure your prospect that you are genuinely interested in helping.
A doctor needs to diagnose a disease for prescribing treatment. Similarly, without finding the problem, you cannot provide a solution to a potential sales prospect.
Neil Rackham SPIN selling methodology can also help in discovering the small business pain points of the buyers. In fact, SPIN selling explains the science behind consultative selling. There are many selling techniques, tools, and methodologies that can help you in capturing the sales prospect insights.
Tools like Salesmate CRM can not only help in streamlining all the information collected about a sales prospect but also aid in improving conversion.
With this advanced sales tool, you can keep track of your prospects’ activities, take follow-ups, manage sales communication, measure sales team performance with informative reports.
Salesmate has a simple interface, so it is easy to adapt and use. Even Capterra, the world’s largest leading digital software review platform, has awarded Salesmate as Best Value for Money and Best Ease of Use.