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Moving Beyond Price: Differentiating Yourself through a Consultative Selling Approach

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When we interview our clients to learn why they picked us for a sales training solution, the reason we hear given most often isn’t what you might expect.

Although we offer comprehensive sales solutions, exceptional customization capabilities, outstanding facilitators and many other tangible strengths, the reason we hear the most is that “you were the best fit.”

When we look further into that answer, we usually hear phrases, such as “you really got our business and our culture” and “we had confidence in your ability to deliver what we need.” In a time when buyers have instant access to volumes of information at their fingertips, soft factors still matter. They can matter a lot.

As a sales professional, you work in a world where your competitors may be able to match you in price, product quality and even features. So, how do you convince a potential client to buy from you? You must use a consultative selling approach to help differentiate your solution and yourself from your competitors. You don’t just offer yourself as someone who can supply good solutions; you offer yourself as someone who is fully vested in the client’s success, not just someone trying to sell to the client. You strive to be the best “fit.”

So, how do you become the best fit? This process starts with preparation before the conversation. You need to identify the decision-makers and understand what matters to them the most. Your preparation also supports qualifying opportunities and making sure you are going after opportunities that align with your strengths. Preparation ensures that you have enough competitive intelligence to not just compete for feature against feature but also to really describe how your solution aligns with client priorities and the factors that matter most to the decision-makers. It's not just a one-way process sale, but a truly collaborative sale.

To do this, find out how to connect what you offer with what the client needs. Move beyond price, but don’t forget about price. One of our trainers offers some sage advice on how this might be done:

I think one of the first things is don't ignore price. Acknowledge that price is a factor. I think early on in the process, try to qualify that opportunity with the customer. Is this somebody who truly is just price shopping? They've got a relationship already, and they're just seeing if you could save them some ridiculous amount of money. Otherwise, they have no intention of moving. So, acknowledge it; seek to qualify it. When we get to discussing price understand the customer well enough at that time to be able to lean on real value, not generic value but value to the customer.

If the client is basing a decision on more than just price and solution features, start by asking questions. Be curious. Seek to understand as much as you can about that person — his/her goals, aspirations and accountabilities — before you start talking about the different ways that you can help them do specifics. But, too often, the questions are really eligibility questions — can the client afford what you are selling? — which then turns into a near rote recitation of product features and, possibly, some benefits. You will achieve much higher hit-rates if you just relax and qualify a little bit better and sooner. When your client is “in the moment,” ask people questions. ask more questions; ask deeper questions; ask broader questions, ask open-ended questions. Ask comprehensive questions because what you’re after here is to learn about the client. Ask questions to get the information you need to create a win-win outcome. Ask questions to get at least some idea of how the client thinks.

The client wants someone who provides a product or service that they need at a price that they consider a good value. The client wants a real solution to a real problem. The client also wants someone not only with whom the client can do business with, but with whom they want to do business. When you convince the client you are this person and company, you have differentiated yourself and are well on the way to a successful sale.

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