Consultative selling is the term used for the commercial process focused on the customer’s shopping experience.
Instead of adapting the customer to the product, during a consultative sale the salesperson will have to customize his approach and the processes of his product to meet specific customer needs.
But of course, everything that will be done must fit within the possibilities of the product and the company.
The most important thing is to understand that a consultative sale, also known as a solution-based sale, is a method composed of processes to ensure that the result is the most aligned with the customer’s wishes.
We start with research
When the lead acquisition is done correctly, each contact comes with a good amount of information, details that can easily identify whether the prospect in question will be well served by your solutions.
The whole principle of qualifying leads exists exactly to ensure that customers who will not be served efficiently do not waste their time – nor theirs – going through a journey that we already know will not bring results.
When a qualified lead arrives to receive the first contact, the responsible seller must have already researched other information about the company’s public positioning, information on its website, on Linkedin pages or on its own nutrition history.
The more details about the client’s business and its area of operation, the easier it is to point out a solution to that client’s need.
Then we raise the rest directly with the customer
Now that the sales team has a basic picture of the customer and is getting in touch to better understand what they need, there are some important questions to ask.
It is important to avoid questions that can be answered only as yes or no. Every extra detail can influence when developing a need or defining a future process.
The easiest way to keep questions open is to give preference to phrases that begin with “what”, “how”, “when”, “where”.
But the conversation must not run wild, you have a goal. You need to find out before the conversation ends:
- What are the objectives the customer wants to achieve with his solution
- What is his plan to achieve this goal and how does he imagine his solution as part of this plan
- What challenges are preventing you from reaching these goals, which is usually part of the reason that the customer sought you
- How long does it take to achieve these results?
In addition to the information above, there are two details that are vital to continue the sales process. Does the client have enough budget to continue the project? Also, who is the person who hits the hammer when buying?
With all this information clarified, the sale can continue.
You will serve as a guide
Think a little about everything you know about the customer’s scenario. Now take all the potential to solve your company’s problems and understand how, in addition to simply delivering a product, you are able to guide it on a better path.
It is common in consultative sales to identify that the solutions and products provided by the company do not meet the customer’s needs, but to continue advising the customer on ways to achieve these results. This often means referring other companies and explaining how they can better address the problem.
Regardless of the scenario, the salesperson’s role here is to guide the customer to teach as much as possible about their problem and how the solution will be applied.
Here, it is worth remembering a confusion that hampers many negotiations. It is common for salespeople to talk too much about their own product and not about the customer’s need.
Qualification never stops
Throughout the solution-based sale, the seller is qualifying the lead. This does not mean that a bad lead should be eliminated entirely from the start. In many cases, passing a disqualified lead through the instruction process adds value that can be returned as a future opportunity.
But it is necessary to know from the beginning whether the lead is qualified or not, because the dedicated effort will differentiate for each case. It is good to help disqualified leads, but if it means losing timing with qualified leads it is best to focus on who can help.
Don’t always be closing, wait for the right moment
The folklore of sales popularized a common phrase, but that in the modern sales model must be carefully rethought.
“Always be closing” has already made sense at some point in history, but in a structured sales process, closing ahead of time means dissatisfaction and loss.
Notice how many details have been raised here up to the time of sale. Imagine, if the closing happened at the wrong stage, how much information could be left out, or how the chances of closing a contract that you are unable to fulfill would increase.
In a good sales process, the closing moment happens naturally. The whole course of the conversation is moving towards closing the deal.
The biggest sign that the sales process is poorly designed is the exaggerated effort to close.
A solution-focused sale is complex and longer than simply selling a product directly. During the process, many people are involved, information is exchanged, and several steps need to be adjusted to ensure that the result will be of value to the customer. That is why tools are important for this process.