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What is consultative selling—and why is it good for business?

The team at SalesStar 29 Aug 2017

Sales strategy

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In a world where new marketing strategies enter the market every other week, often touted as the next and best, consultative selling still continues to outperform all other B2B sales strategies. The catch? You’ve got to do it right.

Read more: Stop selling, start consulting: the power of consultative selling

What is consultative selling?

SalesStar defines it as a sales strategy that focuses on “enhancing client profits”. In simple terms, the role of a consultative salesperson is to find ways to help their customers to:

  1. Improve revenue.
  2. Reduce costs.

“It’s not about a product or service, it’s about the outcome,” says Alex Chan, Head of Learning and Development at SalesStar Global.

 

Common misconceptions of consultative selling

“Consultative selling is often a misunderstood term. Some say it’s about finding solutions, others that it’s about trying to find out what a customer's problems are or to answer a need,” says Alex. “There are also those who say it’s about asking questions. But when you put it all together, they actually are all correct. Consultative selling encompasses all of that.

“But if you ask yourself ‘why is the client in business?’, the answer is they’re in business to enhance their profit. Consultative selling places client profitability first.”

Other common misconceptions include the misbelief that a consultative sales process is long and arduous. And that the customer’s every need must take highest priority, even above closing the sale. If this were true, it would indeed be a waste of business resources and time. However, this is not the case. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

 

The benefits of consultative selling

When done correctly, consultative selling can turn into an extremely effective strategy that can lead to:

Shorter sales cycles: the line of questioning consultative sellers use allows clients to realise the real and potential pain points in their business much sooner.

Greater conversions: research has found that emotions rule over logic in the B2B sales sphere. What’s more, according to the Carnegie Foundation, 85 per cent of decisions are emotional, so if a salesperson can connect with a customer on an emotional level, they are more likely to get the sale.

This is something that the consultative appraoch is especially good at. The line of questioning that helps consultative sellers understand their client’s business and pain points, also serves to trigger an emotional state.

Distinction: a consultative method is an excellent way to stand out from the rest of the B2B crowd. In this day and age, people like to buy, but not to be sold to. Unfortunately, this memo hasn’t made it to a large number of salespeople who still use the product-and-feature sales strategy, especially in B2B sales. In our market of mature companies, where one company’s special feature becomes tomorrow’s base-line standard across the industry, it is just not effective.

As Alex explains: “Say I had to choose between two companies. One shows up and rattles off product and company information, features, and pricing. The other sits down with me and asks: ‘what are you trying to achieve in your business? Why is that important to you? What challenges do have in terms of growing? What have you tried in the past?’ 

“The second company, with the salespeople who follows that consultative process, is far more likely to get my business,” he concludes.

While consultative selling is just one selling strategy, it is a supremely useful one. And if you’re finding your sales have slumped, this approach can help you take a more proactive approach in reaching new customers and ultimately, close more sales.

 

What makes a great consultative seller? Find out in our free guide: Stop selling, start consulting: the power of consultative selling.

 

Stop selling, start consulting eBook download

 

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