Consultative selling was developed in 1976, however came into its own in the 1980s and is popular even today. Consultative selling follows a simple approach where, a salesperson takes the role of an adviser by first collecting information from the prospect on the needs and then provides him with a solution. Consultative selling generally follows a ‘warm and friendly’ approach. The idea behind this approach is to make the sales close almost automatic as the salesperson is able to show how their product meets the prospects requirements.
The techniques of consultative selling are based on methods used by professional consultants. Imagine how a doctor treats his/her patient or how a lawyer treats a client. Be it a doctor or a lawyer they usually start by asking a series of questions about the client’s history and then enquire about the existing problem. Post which they combine the information and based on their professional knowledge they come up with a plan to resolve the problem.
Some of the steps to be followed in consultative selling is as follows:
Do some advance research. If a client didn’t have a problem he/she wouldn’t bother to set up an appointment with you, so the trick is to learn something specific about the client. However, you must be aware that every client is different and not everyone would want to answer long series of questions from a stranger. Therefore, you must plan ahead of time so as to avoid taking your client’s time. Some of the best online resources to take information are from Google, Linkedin and Facebook.
Once you’ve gathered the required data as per your capability, it’s time to the client and get some more specific information. The role to play here would be of a problem-solver. Once you introduce yourself at the appointment, you could say something like, “I consider myself to be a problem-solver and my primary job is to help you with the best product to suit your requirement. Therefore, I will be asking some questions about your current situation. May I go ahead and collect this information?” This way the client wouldn’t get offended if your start asking him/her a series of questions.
2. Actively Listen
Once you get better at asking questions, the less you’ll need to say and the more you’ll have to listen. But understanding the clients need s requires active listening which would help you absorb what is said and also equip you to read between the lines. An active listener can pick up verbal and non-verbal clues to meat up their understanding.
3. Build Rapport
Rapport building is the next crucial part of any consultative selling technique. Clients need to trust that you are the expert and your advice is essential for them. You must develop a solid base of knowledge of your industry. For example, if you sell training programs you should the difference between the different training programs and know the pros and cons as well. Once you that you can certainly convey your knowledge by the nature of the questions you ask.
Follow the above steps and start your journey of being a consultative seller.