Many sales professionals find themselves stuck in a particular style of selling. I was one more at home with a charismatic approach and, sometimes, a technical approach. I had my share of successes, but I also saw a number of opportunities vanish just when I thought they should be closing. I began to see the limitations of my narrow go-to selling styles, and I wondered how much more growth I could experience by expanding the tools to my skills toolkit. Moving beyond my comfort zone took some doing, so I thought I would share some tips in this post.
The first step to shift your selling style is awareness. You need to become clear on where you tend to live in terms of approach by identifying your default style. Do you focus more on relationships? On technical knowledge? On pushing clients to consider new ideas? Assess where you are and how well your current approach works for you. Think about your successes, and why they have worked. Remember the deals that you couldn’t close, and be honest about the reasons of why they slipped away.
Then, do a gap analysis. What might you have done differently that could have changed the outcome of that opportunity? What different skills or approaches might you have employed? Identify the characteristics in different selling styles where you could be stronger.
If you’re a sales manager, ask your sales professionals to conduct their own self-analysis. Then, develop an ongoing dialogue in which you coach them and move them forward along an agreed-upon path. Don’t manage your people solely by numbers because numbers don’t tell the whole story. You will have a richer dialogue and greater impact on each person in your team if you look at individual selling styles and work on improving those skills needed to achieve better results.
My eyes were opened to the benefits of consultative selling after seeing how it draws on the best traits of several styles while minimizing risk. I can engage clients on a deeper level by combining my relationship skills, my technical knowledge, and offering insights. I’m less likely to be blindsided because I’ve done a thorough needs analysis and spent the time to understand my client, the selling situation, and the competitive environment.
Consultative selling is nothing new. It’s been around since the 1970s when it was considered revolutionary. It marked the transition to a more collaborative interaction where the client’s needs, not the product, became the focal point of the sale. This approach remains both valid and vital today, even with — or especially because of — digital and mobile technologies that continue to shift the selling environment.
With consultative selling, you have a much greater chance of adding value and being seen as a strategic advisor vs. someone who clings to a more narrow selling style. As a truly consultative partner, you can build mutually rewarding partnerships that stand the test of time.