Forget about what consultative selling is for just one moment because it’s definitely not for everyone, instead ask…
Should You Be Using Consultative Selling with YOUR Sales Prospects?
Whilst no tick box exercise is ever perfect, here’s a simple check list for you to scan.
If you’re answering YES below and NOT currently using Consultative Selling you may be leaving your sales team exposed in their market space, meaning they’re missing out on signing up customers that rightly belong to you but are currently being serviced by your lesser competitors…
How many of these apply to you?
- Competitive product/service
- Strong ROI case
- Lots of great case studies
- Longer sales cycle
- Complex solution
- Bespoke solution
- Integrated products/services
- Long term commercial relationship with the prospect
A few ‘YES’s’?
Then you really should consider using Consultative Selling to fully max out your sales lead conversion.
Does it mean that you can’t use Consultative Selling if you don’t tick all of these boxes?
Absolutely not, it’s just that it might not be worth the effort, and, in some cases it may actually alienate your prospect base, especially those who just want to buy based on cost alone.
So, What is Consultative Selling?
Consultative selling is about putting the absolute customer needs at the heart of the sales exchange.
It’s about investigating exactly what the prospect wants and needs.
Understanding their wish list.
The problems they need to solve.
The scope, the size, the impact and the origins and trajectories of those problems.
What they need from the sales process as much as the product and service you supply.
What their long terms needs are from you as a supplier partner
It’s working on the long-game scenario with the prospect…
In a nutshell…
Consultative Selling is when you’re more concerned about the second invoice than the first…
But it’s also about having a sales conversation that’s based on trust, openness and honest on both sides.
This is critical as usually consultative sales conversations must talk about risk, guarantees, investment, shared risk, value, return on investment, penalties, paybacks…
All contentious issues in many situations, so you can see why having trust is critical.
How to Establish a Position of Trust in Consultative Selling
One of the easiest ways to do this is to bringvalue to the prospective buyer.
This may be in the form of heaps of experience, insight, proven exposure to the prospects industry, problems and potential solutions.
It may be in proven poof of concept models, it maybe in the form of innovative ideas, research based solutions or simply being a figure of authority in the sector your prospect is in…
In fact, this is one of the key reasons why many industry experts niche their solutions, because it dramatically helps them build credibility with prospects. If you’re interested in niching your solution – take a read at our article on how Savvy Sales Teams Niche
Is Solution Selling the Same as Consultative Selling?
But solution selling does form the basis of consultative selling.
Solution selling originated in the 1960’s.
Late on in the 60’s when big office machinery was being introduced it was evident that each photocopier, for example, was exactly the same an another photocopier.
So how was a prospect supposed to select the one they wanted when they were both good machines, sold by nice sales guys?
Well of course, they could always buy the cheapest?
So, these sellers of large capital eqipment (because that is what a photocopier was at that time) decided that they needed to get super smart about how the positioned their machines in front of prospects who were also getting picthes from every other ‘black box’ sales person in the region.
Solution selling was born!
Solution selling fixated on looking for the solution that the prospect wanted to solve in relation to the problem that they currently had, for example…
30 typists in the typing pool all typing out duplicate information all day every day – costly beyond belief, tough to constantly recruit for, needed an management team to keep the work flow going, occuied space which was expensiveetc etc, you can see how the case for a single black box in the corner of the office started to look appealing?
So, why not type a doc once and photocopy it?
Wow – what a saving.
So you see:
Problem: costly problematic typing pool
The savvy bit came when the sales person needed leverage to get the prospect to buy.
The sales person could remind the prospect of all the problems associated with running a large typing pool…commonly known today as the ‘Cost of Doing Nothing Pitch…’ versus the joy of just having a simple black box.
Plus – the savvy sales person would calulate what the cost saving would be over 12 months, 24 months for added weight to his reasons the prospect really should buy.
The prospect feels a mug for not making this efficiency saving and the deal is done.
So, the sale wasn’t about buying the copier anymore, it WAS about solving a problem.
This was the start of a movement that says – what you sell is less important than how you sell
Anyway, you get, the very brief gist of solution selling.
How Does Consultative Selling Differ From Solution Selling?
Solution selling looks at the cost of not taking action in terms of the problem it solves, their cost savings etc, it also considers the cost in terms of stress goodwill, physical resources…
But consulative selling goes way past whetre solution selling stops…
Consultative selling tells you you’re in partnership with the prospect.
That typically means you’re sharing the risk.
It also typically means that both parties go into this shared risk from a position of full disclosure
In additions, it means that the level of poof, insight and knowledge shared by both sides is at the highest level.