Picture yourself strolling into a store, preparing for the usual onslaught of aggressive sales pitches and pushy tactics. But wait, instead of feeling like you've entered a lion's den, you meet a warm, welcoming salesperson who genuinely wants to help you find the perfect solution to your problem. The scene feels almost too good to be true.
As you chat with the salesperson, you notice they're really taking the time to listen to your needs. They ask thoughtful questions and offer customized solutions based on your unique situation. It's like the universe has aligned in your favor, and you've stumbled upon a mythical creature: the rare, genuinely helpful salesperson.
What if I told you that this magical shopping experience doesn't have to be a fairy tale?
Well that’s something every customer would die for!
That's the essence of consultative selling – a powerful sales approach that can help you win big deals and build bonds that will help you in relationship selling.
What is consultative selling?
Consultative selling is a technique that emphasizes the importance of understanding the customer's needs, challenges, and goals and providing tailored solutions that address those issues. Instead of being the pushy salesperson we all love to hate, consultative selling involves building trust, asking the right questions, and positioning oneself as a problem solver and trusted advisor.
“I like to be forced to buy a product that I was not even looking for.” - Said no customer ever
Why does consultative selling matter?
In today's competitive market, where customers can access a wealth of information and countless options, consultative selling is more important than ever. It enables sales professionals to stand out by providing a personalized, customer-centric selling experience that adds value and solves problems. Plus, consultative selling fosters long-lasting relationships, as customers feel heard, understood, and valued. It's like having a best friend in the sales world!
Benefits of consultative selling
Consultative selling is not something that you can ignore. Watch out for all the benefits it brings to your business.
Improved knowledge about your customers
No amount of information about your customers is ever enough. The more the better.
When you know about what your customers need and what their pain points are, you can make a better pitch to them. Personalize your pitch to a point where the customer says yes willingly and not just that but they also want to stay as your customer for a long-long time.
Increased trust = Increased sales
In consultative selling you are focusing on customers and their needs. You are being transparent about what will be the best fit for the customer to buy. That has a huge impact on the customer and it makes them trust you and engage with your business better. When that trust is built the sales engagement is enhanced on its own and you can use customer engagement to increase sales.
With consultative selling you build bonds with your customers and that helps your customers slowly open up to you. Once you know about the needs of your customers you can easily offer them what they want and make closing deals a cakewalk, thus, improving sales efficiency.
Consultative selling vs transactional selling- which one do you need?
Picture a car salesman – slicked-back hair, high-pressure tactics, and a focus on promoting specific products or services, having almost no regard for your needs as a customer. Well that’s transactional selling for you. Transactional selling is focused on making as many sales as possible in the least amount of time possible. In transactional selling the sales cycle is shorter and the lifetime value of the customer is low. So if you want your customers to stay with you for a while then transactional selling is not for you!
In contrast, consultative selling prioritizes understanding the customer's unique situation and providing tailored solutions that genuinely address their challenges. A consultative seller is very focused on impressing the prospects by understanding their needs, and being the actual helping hand instead of a pushy salesperson running after commission.
Consultative selling approach process
Consider this, every time you visit a mall you must encounter one sales person or the other who would ask you what you need and then bring you a cart full of stuff to buy from. Mostly, they want you to buy the entire cart and can be seen being pushy as well about it.
While on the other hand, take the example of a travel and tourism company. The salesperson would listen to what place you want to go to, why you want to go there and then lay down a list of pros and cons of that place. Not only that but they will also share the good spots to visit and the spots to avoid and this information becomes a huge help for you. Finally, you buy your travel package from them trusting the sales person, the company and you have a delightful experience.
Now that is a clear example of consultative selling approach which is now also one of the top b2b sales trends you should follow. This approach is done by following a step-by-step process which I am penning down here for you.
Stage 1- Qualify the customer
Before you delve into helping the prospect you first need to make sure that they are even the ideal customer for you? Know about the customer problem and then figure out if you can help them. Consultative selling is about being transparent if you cannot help the prospect solve the problem, do not waste their or your time.
So how do you qualify a customer?
- If they come to you looking for a product or solution you sell then they are already qualified since they know you can help them out!
- Ask questions to know about your prospects’ concerns and figure out if your solution is ideal for them or not. If not, then no harm in referring them to an alternative either. If someone is looking for iOS and is clear about it then you cannot sell them android.
- Use a Leadbot to qualify your website visitors before adding them to your pipeline. The leadbot can interact with the visitor and ask lead qualifying questions, collecting any information needed, and add the lead to the pipeline simplifying your entire qualifying process.
Stage 2- Build trust by exploring and assessing the concern
In this stage, you dive deeper into the customer's concerns and pain points. Encourage them to share specific challenges they are facing, allowing you to understand their needs in greater detail. Use open-ended questions to generate sales engagement and uncover their pain points.
For example, if you're selling marketing software, you might ask, "What marketing strategies have you tried in the past? What were the main obstacles you faced? How are these challenges affecting your overall business performance?"
Stage 3 - Uncovering the root causes
Once you have explored the customer's concerns, focus on identifying the underlying causes behind their challenges. Ask probing questions to get to the root of the problem. This helps you provide targeted solutions that address the core issues.
For example, if the customer mentions low website traffic as a concern, you might ask, "What marketing channels have you utilized to drive traffic? Have you analyzed your target audience and their preferences? How do you currently measure the success of your marketing efforts?"
Stage 4 - Presenting a tailored solution
After thoroughly understanding the customer's needs and pain points, it's time to present a tailored solution that directly addresses their specific challenges. Explain how your product or service can solve their problems and help them achieve their goals. Use case studies or success stories to illustrate how similar clients benefited from your solution. Take the advice of expert sales influencers about how they provide customization to customers.
For instance, you could say, "Based on your challenges with low website traffic, our marketing software provides advanced analytics and optimization tools that can help you identify target audience segments, optimize your campaigns, and track their performance in real-time."
Stage 5 - Address concerns and objections
During this stage, the customer may express concerns or objections about your proposed solution. Actively listen to their concerns and respond with empathy. Provide additional information, data, or testimonials to alleviate their doubts. Address each concern individually and ensure they feel heard and understood.
For example, if the customer is concerned about the learning curve of your software, you might explain, "We offer comprehensive onboarding support, including personalized training sessions and ongoing customer support to ensure a smooth transition. Our previous clients have reported a short learning curve and improved sales efficiency after implementing our solution."
These stages form the initial part of the consultative selling process.
Remember, each customer interaction is unique, and the process may require adaptation based on individual circumstances. By effectively qualifying the customer and building trust through exploring their concerns, you lay the foundation for a successful consultative sales approach.
How to use consultative selling to close more deals?
Here are the seven ways you can leverage consultative selling to close more deals in sales:
Position yourself as a trusted advisor
Build trust with the customer by positioning yourself as a trusted advisor rather than just a salesperson. This establishes credibility and reinforces the customer's confidence in your ability to solve their problems. Here's how you can do it in simple words with examples:
Become knowledgeable about your industry, products, and services. Stay up-to-date with industry trends, challenges, and best practices. By demonstrating expertise, you instill confidence in customers that you understand their needs and can provide effective solutions.
For example, if you're selling financial planning services, educate yourself on investment strategies, tax regulations, and retirement planning options.
One of the sales engagement strategies is active listening. Listen attentively to your customers and show genuine interest in their challenges and goals. Ask probing questions to uncover their pain points and desired outcomes. This helps you gain a deep understanding of their needs and allows you to tailor your recommendations accordingly.
For instance, if you're selling marketing services, listen to the customer's current marketing strategies and ask questions about their target audience and key metrics.
Provide valuable insights
Share industry-specific insights, trends, and relevant data that can help your customers make informed decisions. This positions you as a valuable resource and advisor.
For example, if you're selling IT consulting services, you could share information about emerging technologies, cybersecurity threats, or cost-saving strategies in the IT industry.
Offer solutions, not just products
Focus on solving your customers' problems rather than simply pushing your products or services. Take a consultative approach by understanding their pain points and customizing your solution to address their specific needs. Show how your offering can deliver tangible benefits and value.
For instance, if you're selling software for customer relationship management (CRM), highlight how it can streamline their sales processes, improve customer satisfaction, and increase revenue.
Act with integrity
Honesty, transparency, and ethical behavior are crucial in establishing trust. Be upfront about what your product or service can and cannot do. Avoid making exaggerated claims or promises that you cannot fulfill. By acting with integrity, you build a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy advisor.
For instance, if you're selling fitness equipment, be transparent about its features, limitations, and realistic results.
Solve problems collaboratively
Engage in collaborative problem-solving with the customer. Instead of simply presenting your solution, involve the customer in the process by seeking their input and ideas. Together, identify potential obstacles and explore alternative approaches. This fosters a sense of ownership and partnership, improving the sales process. Here is a guide for you to solve problems collaboratively:
Empathize and Validate
Demonstrate empathy and understanding towards the customer's challenges. Acknowledge their frustrations and validate their experiences. This helps build rapport and trust, creating a collaborative environment.
For instance, if the customer expresses frustration about the time-consuming nature of manual data entry, you can respond by saying, "I understand how tedious and error-prone manual data entry can be. Many of our clients have faced similar challenges, and we've helped them find more efficient solutions."
Engage in brainstorming sessions with the customer to generate ideas and potential solutions. Encourage them to share their insights and suggestions. By involving them in the problem-solving process, you empower them and foster a sense of ownership.
For example, if you're selling inventory management software, you could brainstorm with the customer to explore ways to streamline their inventory tracking and reduce stockouts.
Assess the various options and ideas generated during the brainstorming session. Together with the customer, evaluate each option based on its feasibility, potential benefits, and alignment with their goals. This collaborative evaluation helps narrow down the solutions in the sales engagement process.
For instance, if you're selling marketing services, you could discuss different marketing channels and evaluate which ones align best with the customer's target audience and budget.
Based on the evaluation, co-create a solution that addresses the customer's specific problem. Combine their input and preferences with your expertise to develop a tailored solution that meets their needs. This collaborative approach ensures that the solution is aligned with their goals and requirements.
For example, if you're selling website development services, you can involve the customer in the design process, seeking their feedback on layouts, color schemes, and user experience.
Provide demonstrations and proof of concept
Offer product demonstrations or provide a proof of concept to showcase the value and effectiveness of your solution. This hands-on experience allows the customer to visualize how your product or service will benefit their business. Customize the demonstration to address their specific pain points and desired outcomes.
Whenever possible, provide a hands-on experience for the customer. Allow them to interact with your solution and experience your sales engagement platform firsthand. This helps them understand its usability and suitability for their needs. During the demonstration, explicitly address the customer's specific pain points and show how your solution solves them. Demonstrate how your solution can streamline their processes, save time, improve efficiency, or reduce costs.
Support your demonstration with quantifiable results and success stories. Share case studies or testimonials that demonstrate how your solution has benefited similar clients in measurable ways. This helps build credibility and reinforces the value of your solution.
For instance, if you're selling inventory management software, share how one of your clients reduced inventory holding costs by 20% and improved order accuracy by 15% after implementing your software.
Address objections proactively
Anticipate and address objections before they arise. Proactively provide information and evidence that alleviates potential concerns. This demonstrates your commitment to addressing the customer's doubts and increases their trust in your solution. Here are the few ways for you to address objections proactively:
Put yourself in the customer's shoes
Think from the customer's perspective and anticipate objections they may raise based on their unique situation, industry, or prior experiences. Consider common objections that other customers have raised in the past. This helps you proactively address potential concerns.
For example, if you're selling software for remote team collaboration, you may anticipate objections related to data security or ease of use.
Research and prepare
Gather relevant information, data, and examples that can help counter objections effectively. This includes understanding the features, benefits, and limitations of your solution.You can ask various questions of sales engagement directly to prospects to understand their problems. Prepare compelling responses that address objections in a clear and concise manner.
For instance, if you're selling cloud storage services, research and gather information about your robust encryption measures and compliance certifications to address security-related objections.
Incorporate objection handling in the sales pitch
Integrate objection handling within your sales pitch to proactively address potential objections. For example, during your presentation, you can say, "Some customers initially express concerns about our pricing, but let me explain how our flexible payment options and scalable packages can fit within your budget."
Highlight unique selling points
Emphasize the unique selling points and advantages of your solution that differentiate it from competitors and directly address potential objections. This helps the customer see the added value of your offering.
For instance, if you're selling a project management tool with a simple user interface, highlight how its intuitive design reduces the learning curve and minimizes training time.
Customize pricing and terms
As per sales psychology, pricing is one of the influential factors in the mind of the customer while purchasing any product or service. Tailor pricing and terms to meet the customer's budget and specific requirements. Offer flexible payment options, such as monthly installments or customization packages that align with their budget constraints. This makes your solution more accessible and appealing. Here's a simple explanation of how to do it:
Offer modular pricing options that allow the customer to select the specific features or services they require, providing flexibility and cost control. This way, they can choose a package that best aligns with their needs and budget.
For instance, if you're selling a project management tool, offer different pricing tiers based on the number of users or advanced features included.
Create bundled packages that combine multiple products or services at a discounted rate. This offers value for customers who require a comprehensive solution. For example, Sales Simplify bundles sales automation, sales engagement, sales CRM, leadbot and other software in one platform and provides it at a discounted rate compared to purchasing each service individually.
Provide discounts based on the volume or quantity of products or services purchased. This incentivizes customers to buy in larger quantities or commit to longer-term contracts.
For instance, if you're selling office supplies, offer a discounted price per unit for customers who order in bulk or sign a yearly procurement contract.
Flexible payment options
Offer flexible payment options to accommodate the customer's cash flow or budgetary preferences. This can include monthly installments, milestone-based payments, or deferred payment schedules. For example, if you're selling consulting services, provide the option for customers to pay in monthly installments over the duration of the engagement.
Negotiate terms and conditions
Engage in open and transparent negotiations to find mutually beneficial terms and conditions. Be willing to adjust contract terms based on the customer's specific requirements or concerns. This can include modifying payment terms, delivery timelines, or warranty provisions.
For instance, if you're sales automation software, negotiate on additional training sessions based on the customer's request and convince them to invest in the sales engagement software.
Leverage social proof
Utilize social proof, such as testimonials, case studies, and reviews, to demonstrate the success and satisfaction of previous customers. Share stories of how your solution has positively impacted businesses similar to the prospect's. This builds trust and confidence in your ability to deliver results. Still confused how to do it, follow these suggestions:
Collect testimonials and reviews
Reach out to satisfied customers and request testimonials or reviews about their positive experiences with your product or service. These can include written testimonials, video testimonials, or online reviews. Ensure you have their permission to use their feedback for promotional purposes.
For example, if you're selling fitness equipment, ask customers to provide testimonials about how the equipment helped them achieve their fitness goals.
Develop case studies that highlight successful implementations of your solution for specific customers or industries. These case studies demonstrate how your product or service solved real-world challenges and delivered tangible results.
For instance, if you're selling CRM software, create a case study that showcases how your CRM software increased sales efficiency and highlights the importance of CRM in the organization.
Display logos of well-known clients
If you have reputable and well-known clients who are using your product or service, prominently display their logos on your website, sales collateral, or presentations. This helps establish credibility by association. For example, Sales Simplify added the logo of SDCCB bank while mentioning their review on its website.
Use customer success stories
Share success stories that highlight how your solution positively impacted a customer's business. Focus on specific metrics or achievements that demonstrate the value they gained. These stories illustrate the practical benefits of choosing your product or service.
For instance, if you're selling sales training programs, share a success story about how your training helped a sales team increase their closing rate by 30% within three months.
Record video testimonials where satisfied customers speak about their positive experiences with your solution. Video testimonials add a personal touch and authenticity, allowing potential customers to see and hear firsthand how your offering has made a difference.
For example, if you're selling a productivity app, record a video testimonial of a customer discussing how the app has improved their workflow and saved them time.
Follow up and provide ongoing support
Maintain regular communication with the customer even after the sale is made. Follow up to ensure their satisfaction with the solution and address any concerns or questions that arise. Provide ongoing support and assistance to foster a long-term relationship and generate future sales opportunities. To simplify your sales process, you can use the sales cadence software of Sales Simplify automate your follow up.
Here is an explanation how you can effectively follow up:
82% of customers expect responses within ten minutes.
Respond to customer inquiries and requests promptly. Aim to follow up within 24-48 hours to demonstrate your attentiveness and commitment. For example, if a customer sends an email asking for additional information about your product, respond promptly with the requested details and offer to schedule a call to discuss further.
Proposal or quote follow-up
If you have submitted a proposal or quote, follow up to ensure the customer received it and address any questions or modifications they may have. This demonstrates your commitment to their specific requirements and helps move the sales process forward.
For example, follow up with a call to discuss the proposal in detail, answer any questions, and provide further clarification as needed.
Schedule next steps
During the follow-up, discuss and schedule the next steps in the sales process. This keeps the momentum going and ensures clear communication about what comes next. For example, if the next step is a product demonstration, schedule a date and time for the demonstration during the follow-up call.
Maintain regular communication with the customer even after the initial follow-up. Check in periodically to see if they have any new questions or concerns and provide updates if relevant. This demonstrates your commitment and helps nurture the relationship. For instance, send a brief email a week after the initial follow-up to check if the customer needs any further information or support.
Persistence and politeness
Be persistent in your follow-up efforts without being pushy or intrusive. Respect the customer's time and preferences, but also recognize that multiple touchpoints may be necessary to close the deal. Follow up at appropriate intervals, such as every few days or weeks, depending on the customer's response and the urgency of the sales cycle to build your rapport in sales.
Maximize your chances of closing deals
In today's competitive sales landscape, consultative selling has emerged as a powerful approach that can help you win big deals. By shifting the focus from simply pitching products to understanding and addressing customer needs, consultative selling builds trust, establishes credibility, and increases the likelihood of closing significant sales opportunities. Throughout this blog, we have explored ways in which consultative selling can help you achieve sales success. But at the end, you need a robust sales platform to cover various aspects of your business from managing prospects to automating your sales process. Sales Simplify provides you an all-in-one sales platform to organize your sales activities and proactively reach out to your clients.
By incorporating these strategies into your consultative selling approach, you can maximize your chances of winning big deals. Remember, consultative selling is about building relationships, understanding customer needs, and providing tailored solutions that deliver value. By adopting this customer-centric mindset, you position yourself as a trusted advisor and differentiate yourself from the competition, ultimately leading to more successful deals and long-term business growth.