Guiding Principles of Consultative Selling
Consultative selling is a method for narrowing the remove between the seller and buyer. By closing this gap, the relationship transcends a “give and take” dynamic to become more of a shared effort to resolve a complex business problem. Reaching this point means embracing these guiding principles.
Exude Conviction, Confidence & CuriosityDeveloping skills and behaviours that demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and attentiveness to the details coming from the customer. Bring a strong point of view balanced with a genuine interest in them and what they are trying to achieve.
Connect to the Emotional Side of Buying
In one word, sellers must empathise. Doing so means not simply acknowledging the customer’s challenges but seeking to feel what they feel and understand what they think. Friend/Foe Bias is another form of cognitive bias that tells us we are naturally wired to assess each other’s intentions and to quickly decide if someone is a friend or foe (threat). Seller behaviours must not be manipulative or appear self-serving to avoid triggering a threat response and eroding trust.
Get the customer talking. You cannot move the sale forward without both sides contributing to the conversation. Some buyers are reluctant to offer information which is why effective sellers first give so they can eventually get. Customers will resist opening up if they: are bored, feel interrogated, are asked uneducated questions, believe you are focused on yourself, believe you are pushy and add no value, believe you haven’t earned the right to ask something bold. Great consultative sellers today are exceptionally skilled at fostering openness through exceptional questioning.
Illuminate Customer Thinking
Remember that insightful questions are just as effective at getting a customer to think different as sharing ideas or insights. Knowing when to give and take requires high skill execution and a laser focus on the customer response throughout.
Give Space for Customer Thoughtfulness
Let the customer develop their thoughts. The dialogue should be as productive to them as it is to you. Rather than craft your next sentence, take the opportunity to understand the meaning behind their words.
Connect the Critical Dots
Build persuasiveness by coaching the solution in the client’s needs. This approach enables them to visualise the practical application of the product and how it might look in the real world. Limit solutions to a concise, manageable list of only the most relevant in order of priority. Avoid “data deluge.”
Maintain Seller & Buyer Alignment
Keep the customer in the game. If scepticism or obscurity is left unrecognised, it will grow unchecked until finally killing the sale.
Technology, competition and multiple stakeholders have all changed the buyer’s behaviour. The sellers pushing the sale across the line are those who recognise these changes and adapt accordingly. These agile sellers are playing the game at a higher level.
However, sellers can only expect to benefit from gains once they see changes in their behaviour. Doing so means revisiting what it means to be customer focused. Striving for authenticity, leading with a plan, engendering buyer participation, creating momentum and driving insights with questions are all part of the plan.
At Richardson Sales Performance, we’ve seen how effective these practises are when implemented correctly. More importantly, the sales organisations we coach have seen the effectiveness of a consultative approach in winning the sale.
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