All salespeople would like to make more sales. That’s a given. However, many do not understand how to make that happen. They tell every potential client about their product’s or service’s benefits and features, without ever trying to determine if what they’re selling will solve the client’s problem. In other words, they don’t pre-qualify them. These are the managers who didn’t hear about consultative sales approach.
But solving the client’s problem is the key to making more sales. This latter approach is known as the consultative sales approach. Salespeople who employ it are in a greater position to close the sale if they use it.
What Is the Consultative Sales Approach?
Consultative selling differs from other types of selling in that the salesperson tries to establish him/ herself as an expert consultant to the client, according to the Business Dictionary. Basically, the salesperson conducts a casual interview with the client, asking him/ her questions about the problem that the client is hoping to solve. The idea behind this is that (hopefully), the salesperson’s product or service will fit the client’s needs and provide a resolution to the problem.
This approach deviates away from the benefits and features approach that many salespeople use. In this type of selling, the salesperson tells the prospect about the benefits and the features of the product or service. While telling the prospect about this information isn’t bad, it doesn’t always take the prospect’s needs into consideration. Even products with the most superior benefits won’t move a prospect to buy if that product doesn’t solve the prospect’s problem. A salesperson who uses the consultative sales approach in conjunction with product knowledge has a better chance of closing the sale.
Who Uses the Consultative Sales Approach?
These types of sales often involve legal matters and contracts, which means that the salesperson must know how to operate within those constraints. He/ she must also be able to advise his/ her clients about how these constraints will affect the purchase. Again, the product or service doesn’t have to be high-end. But often you’ll see the consultative sales approach used in those settings.
Think of it this way. Let’s say a potential homeowner wants to have a home built rather than buy one that’s already finished. This potential homeowner might also have some special needs like needing to have a separate mother-in-law quarters built. The homeowner needs to have ready access to this property in case of an emergency. Let’s say that the potential homeowner has also told the builder that he/ she wants a separate cottage built on the property to serve as the mother-in-law quarters. The homeowner feels that a separate residence would allow each person – the mother-in-law and the kids – to maintain their privacy.
However, having a second home on the property could cause issues with city ordinances or neighborhood association rules. The real estate agent or building contractor could use a consultative sales approach with this client. Not only would the builder/ real estate agent let the homeowner know about the city rules, but would also be able to offer a different solution, like offering to build a separate mother-in-law wing. This solves the problem of needing a separate space for an elderly parent. But it also helps the homeowner avoid troubles with the city. By listening to what the client needs, the salesperson is in a position to offer solutions to the problem that solves the client’s problem/s, without adding more problems to the mix.
Ways in Which Consultative Sales Approach Helps Your Business
The consultative sales approach can help your business in numerous ways.
- It helps to establish your company (or you) as an expert in the industry. This means that people in need of your product or service will be inclined to look you up first and to buy from you. This is because they know your product/ service will solve their problem/s.
- For another thing, this prevents you and your sales staff from trying to sell to someone who doesn’t want or need the product or service. Or worse, it stops your sales staff from trying to sell to someone who truly doesn’t have the budget to afford the product or service. This wastes the salesperson’s time. His/ her time is better spent by talking to prospects who want and who can afford the product or service. This approach can help the salespeople on your staff have a higher closing rate. By using the consultative sales approach, they only talk to people who are truly in a position to buy.
3 Tips for Implementing Consultative Sales Approach
- To establish his/her expertise, this salesperson might keep a blog or produce a podcast about the subject. According to an article on Monster.com, this person’s knowledge is developed by keeping up with industry trends, current affairs, industry best practices, and business news. This knowledge may be imparted via the blog or podcast as well as on the sales’ floor.
- Salespeople need to get into the habit of asking real questions of the client. It also includes being willing to listen to what the client has to say. This puts the salesperson in the position to solve the client’s problem/s. If the salesperson’s product or service can’t solve the client’s problem/s, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the world of consultative selling. According to SellingPower.com, a successful sales transaction can also be the salesperson eliminating the potential client as a prospect.
- The salesperson is in a position to recommend something else. While this may seem counter intuitive, this approach builds trust with the potential client. He/ she knows that the salesperson cares about solving the problem, not just making a sale. In the process, the salesperson can garner more sales in the long run. This establishes him/ her as the expert because his/ her clients are happy to suggest the salesperson’s product or service to friends and family.
To Sum It Up
The salesperson who uses this approach is someone who has established him/ herself as an expert in his/ her field. Very often, but not always, this person specializes in selling high-end products or services, like marketing services or even cars or homes.
Have you ever used the consultative sales approach? How did it work for you? Leave your comments below.
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