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8 core principles of the consultative sales approach

Why use the consultative sales approach?

Nobody likes feeling sold to – but they’re often more than happy to buy something that has a tangible value to them. This is where consultative sales comes in.

Consultative sales is an approach that positions the sales rep as more of an advisor than a seller to help the buyer find the best solution for their problem. This approach promotes and encourages relationships and meaningful open dialogue between the salesperson and buyer.

Consultative sales has several benefits for sales reps including:

  • More effective understanding of buyer’s challenges

  • Allows you to frame your offering as the solution to a challenge the buyer identifies

  • Better, more meaningful sales conversations

  • Identify and handle objections upfront

  • Higher close rates

While the buyers of today have access to more data and information about various products than ever before, many of them still benefit from (and prefer) talking to sales professionals – which gives you an opportunity to convert them.

The consultative sales approach can be broken down into 8 core principles:

1. Prepare for your sales conversations

The consultative sales process starts before the conversation does: you need to prepare by researching your buyer and using this information to ask the right questions during your conversation. This ensures you have more productive conversations with your buyers and gives you time to gather any information you may need to win the sale.

Effective preparation can often be the difference between a sale that’s won and a sale that’s lost.

2. Engage with your buyer

A consultative sales conversation is exactly that – a two-way conversation. Engage with your buyer and demonstrate active listening skills when they’re speaking to build rapport and trust. A key difference between a standard and consultative sales approach is that your next question or comment will always be influenced by something the buyer has said – rather than a series of scripted questions and sales pitches.

3. Learn from the conversation

Despite your preparation, something new will likely get raised during the sales conversation. Great consultative sellers use this information to gain a deeper insight and understanding of their buyers that can lead to a more successful sales conversation. To learn more about your buyer, don’t be afraid to ask a broader range of questions that encourages an open and honest dialogue.

4. Differentiate your offering

A critical part of the consultative sales approach is educating the buyer about what makes you and your offering different to a competitor’s. Your earlier research can benefit you here as you’ll be able to ask questions about the challenges they’ve faced with other providers and solutions and highlight how they won’t face those challenges with you. Ultimately, sales professionals who can differentiate their solution from their competition win more sales.

5. Demonstrate your value

Alongside educating the buyer about what makes you different, the consultative sales approach educates and demonstrates the true value of the offering concisely and tangibly. Once again, having a deeper understanding of your buyer is crucial to demonstrating the value in a relatable way. For example, while your buyer may not value the time-saving benefits of your solution, they may appreciate it when a cost is attributed to time wasted without the solution. Highlight the challenges and priorities they’ve mentioned when talking about the value of your solution.

By ensuring your value is communicated appropriately, you’ll find it much easier to gain trust and buy-in from the buyer throughout the sales process.

6. Explore and overcome objections

No matter how thorough your selling approach there will inevitably be objections and concerns about investing in a new product or service.

Salespeople who can proactively seek out, explore and positively overcome objections during their conversations close a far higher percentage of sales than their competition.

7. Secure agreement and commitment

Once you’ve qualified your lead with the previous steps, it’s time to close the deal. While consultative sales treats reps more like advisors, it’s important to remember that the point of these conversations is to win sales.

Make sure you ask the buyer to agree and commit to some form of next step – whether it’s a further conversation or, even better, a deal. No matter how good the relationship is that you’ve built with them during the conversation, they won’t do anything if you don’t ask them to.

Treat closing like a process within the sales conversation to increase the chances of getting a commitment from your buyer and winning the sale.

8. Follow up with agreed actions

If further action is needed after the conversation, make sure you follow up in a timely and professional manner demonstrating that you stick to your commitments. Many sales professionals often fall short when it comes to following up, so doing this consistently and effectively can help you stand out and win more sales.

Consultative sales is one of the best approaches to take in the modern sales landscape to build relationships with buyers and offer solutions based on their needs. Our 360 Consultative Sales course provides sales teams with a proven repeatable sales approach to consistently execute their sales conversations.

Think Selling Sales Training offers a range of courses suited to individuals looking to develop their own sales skills to companies looking to improve the performance of their sales department.

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