In this article we are going to give an exact and detailed answer of what consultative selling is. During the COVID-19 situation, sales have, in most cases, come to a complete standstill. Now that we see light at the end of the tunnel, consultative selling is gaining more strength than ever…
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What is consultative selling?
We understand consultative selling as the sales process focused on the real needs of the client . Therefore, it is a type of sale that offers personalized advice adapted to each client .
The seller advises the customer so that he chooses the right service or product, is satisfied and, as a consequence, buys it again.
This way you get:
- A win-win relationship (both parties benefit from the exchange) .
- A long-term relationship (if the consumer is satisfied, they will buy again and become loyal) .
For there to be an advised sale, it is essential that it be based on empathy and trust . The seller has to be able to empathize with the reality of each client and the client has to have blind faith in the seller. But this is not easy at all. The profession of a seller is already difficult in itself and not everyone can be. Imagine being a consultative salesperson. What do you need? First of all years of experience, and second, we see it below.
The role of the consultative seller
First of all, what really is a seller? The seller is the visible face of the company. It is the first contact the client has. If the seller does not meet the customer’s expectations, it will be practically impossible to minimize or eliminate that negative impact. (Even if you have a 10 product, if the commercial is not, the customer experience is going to be bad. And they will not buy from you again).
A seller has to know how to sell, he has to believe in his product and he has to like human relations. If from the outset it no longer meets these three premises, we are off to a bad start.
If it meets them, we already have a good seller. But to be a consultative seller you need much more.
You can’t be focused on a single sale. Your work does not have to be measured by how many sales you have made, but how many customers you have retained. You must have a vocation for service, and thus understand that what you are doing is solving a customer need. Do not “draw” a need that the client did not know or make him believe that he has that need. If not, investigate, study and analyze that person, business, company and find out if they need your product or not. Therefore, it must be authentic and willing to give everything to customers.
Thus, before selling to the client, he advises him, and for this reason his role is that of a commercial advisor .
Here are some tips from sales experts to keep in mind.
What are the stages of consultative selling?
It is evident that consultative selling gained strength many years ago with the arrival of the Internet, communication technologies and, above all, thanks to the possibility of knowing the behavior of our audience and being able to listen to their feedback.
It is there when we go from giving value to the product to giving it to the customer. In a consultative sale, the seller sells and builds loyalty in the same process.
Now in a post-COVID-19 situation, customers are going to be much more selective when purchasing a product. It is important to be aware of this and personalize each sale. It is not worth having a sale and thereby losing the customer. If you sell, sell a long-term relationship.
Let’s see then the different phases that we can find in a consultative sale:
Phase 1 – Research and Preparation
Create the Buyer Persona profile for the company you are going to visit or meet online in addition to a previous investigation of its activity (web, social profiles, competition…).
Phase 2 – Presentation and active listening
Here we will not present the product like any other seller (its qualities, functionalities…etc.). What we do is introduce ourselves as advisors and quickly listen to the client. An active listening taking notes and asking questions based on what we previously know about him. We have to empathize and know where we can help you.
Phase 3 – Validation
Highlight the client’s problem and confirm that it has been understood by both parties. The commercial does not have to be afraid to validate with the client and ask him questions such as: “Okay, so the problem here is the lack of visibility… and the most important thing is that your agents can work remotely…”.
Phase 4 – Presentation, Argumentation and Closing
Once we know what the client needs, it is time to see if our product suits their needs and if we can adapt it to them. Here we have to conscientiously prepare a specific presentation, highlighting what we can do for him.
General presentations with all the functionalities of the product are not worth it… The consultative salesperson has understood what is worrying that particular client and dedicates his time to presenting only the part of the product that is useful to him.
Doubts are resolved, objections are answered and if you have completed all the phases of the process, the consultative sale is closed.
Phase 5 – CRM and Follow-up
Whether you have managed to sell to the client, or if they need more time or have rejected your proposal; everything has to be registered in the CRM. Without a database where you can see the commercial activity of the team, it is impossible to understand the client. In fact, CRM is a useful tool throughout the process. Since you are not only analyzing that client in question, but your competition and the market in general.
Top 4 Techniques for Foolproof Consultative Selling
How to close a sale of these characteristics? Here are some of the best techniques.
The SPIN Selling Method
Before telling you what this technique is based on, let me show you the hypothesis behind it:
“During a successful sales cycle, it is the customer who does most of the talking.”
To ensure that the customer is the one who does not stop talking, the SPIN method suggests that we do it from four types, or phases, of questions:
Situation: These are questions that collect facts, information and reference data about the buyer’s situation. (Remember that you have already done some previous research and that you have already registered a lot of data in the CRM, so ask questions based on it).
Problem: These questions collect information about the current problems that the client has, guide them to find the solution on their own.
Implication: These questions highlight the consequences of not acting on the issues identified in Phase 2. Through this guided process, the prospect should come to believe that they have come to a conclusion on their own and realized that solving the problem it is much more urgent than I had thought before.
Need / Solution: These questions guide prospects toward identifying a need (to renew and update their methods) in the face of a problem. If they do this well, it is possible for the customer to highlight your product/service without the explicit action of the salesperson.
Cross sell or cross sell
Its objective is to motivate the client to acquire a complementary or compatible product. For example, if the customer buys a smartphone, they will also need a case, tempered glass, a camera protector…etc. In this type of sale you can encourage the buyer by offering discounts if he buys complementary products.
Upsell or upsell
The objective of this technique is for the customer to acquire a product related to the one they have already bought, but of higher quality. Using the same example above, when buying a smartphone, the seller can offer “for a little more you can get the top-of-the-range one that has twice the functionality.”
*Surely you have not noticed, but these 2 techniques have been in the world of sales all their lives and are used constantly. Firstly because they work, and secondly because we don’t realize that we are being seduced into buying something that we may not want or need. If you really do not want or need that product, then it is not a consultative sale and these techniques are not being used correctly.
If you are buying a plane ticket and before making the payment they offer you: travel insurance, more kg in checked luggage or book a hotel; it is lawful If by default, that buyer includes the insurance without realizing it, they do not use the techniques, they are being aggressive.
The fourth technique for a consultative sale (and the least exploited of all) is to value the opinion of the consumer. It is essential to understand him, so that he feels heard and sees that he is part of the company. Ask for their opinion via surveys, forms, customer satisfaction indicators such as NPS…etc. whenever you can. The more times the better.
If you want to see in depth the sales and negotiation techniques access the link.
Consultative selling with a CRM
Lastly, I would like to recite the use of CRM throughout the consultative selling process. Why? Because it is a tool that will help us consult, register and store all the sales information. Not only of that client in question but of the entire market. If you work in sales and you don’t have a useful tool in your day to day life, here we help you decide if you really need to invest in a CRM or not.