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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 & Curiosity

Developing skills and behaviors 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 empathize. 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 behaviors must not be manipulative or appear self-serving to avoid triggering a threat response and eroding trust.

Foster Openness

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 visualize 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 skepticism or obscurity is left unrecognized, it will grow unchecked until finally killing the sale.

Technology, competition and multiple stakeholders have all changed the buyer’s behavior. The sellers pushing the sale across the line are those who recognize 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 behavior. 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 practices are when implemented correctly. More importantly, the sales organizations we coach have seen the effectiveness of a consultative approach in winning the sale.

About the Author

Richardson Sales Performance is a global sales training and performance improvement company. Our goal is to transform every buyer experience by empowering sellers with critical skills so they can create value to buyers and drive meaningful conversations. Our methodology combines a market proven sales and coaching curriculum with an innovative and customizable approach to learning that ensures your sales teams learn, master, and apply those behaviors where and when it matters most — in front of your customers. It’s our job to anticipate change in your industry so that your sales team can focus on fostering long-term relationships, becoming indispensable partners for their buyers.

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