In the fast paced world of sales and marketing, companies and the general public are constantly being asked to buy new products and services. According to a study in 2023, the average person sees between 4000 and 10,000 advertisements in a single day.
It is for this reason that selling a product to potential customers is becoming harder all the time, and more often than not, the benefit of purchasing a product is usually unclear. Customers can be deterred when they feel pressured into buying a new product or service, and ‘pushy’ salespeople are often disregarded because of these strategies.
“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.” – Brian Tracy, motivational speaker.
The consultative sales approach aims to build a rapport with potential customers. This can be achieved by gaining their trust through offering valuable information, taking the time to understand their specific needs, and providing a bespoke solution to their problems that could be fixed with the product or service you are selling.
By utilising a consultative sales strategy, your customers will begin to see you as a trusted advisor, and a reliable figure that can provide solutions to their problems.
Looking for your next consultative sales role? Morgan Philips provides expert services in specialist recruitment, executive search functions, and talent consulting for a range of clients across the UK. You can also explore our job search function to find the perfect role for you.
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What is Consultative Sales?
At a glance, the consultative sales approach is the act of recommending the best solution for your customers’ individual needs, acting more like an advisor than a traditional salesperson.
This may result in you, the consultant, suggesting a completely different product or service from one that your company offers. In this example you may not have gained a sale from that customer directly, but you have successfully built a rapport with that customer who may begin to trust you as an advisor. As a result of this, customers may approach you in the future to inquire about the services and products your company offers.
The consultative sales approach usually occurs in the middle of a customer’s sales journey,where they have already conducted research into which products and services are available to them, but they need additional information to decide which solution is best for them.
7 Key Roles of a Consultative Sales Person
Product information, benefits, and reviews are all readily available on the internet, and it is often the case that traditional salespeople will simply offer this information directly to the customer. For this reason, it can be easy for a potential customer to disregard a salesperson because of the lack of informational quality they provide.
A consultative sales approach means that representatives will often meet customers who are already in their research process, and the consultant must adopt an approach that offers bespoke solutions detailing exactly how their products or services will benefit the customer and solve their initial problem.
The consultative selling approach is achieved by utilising the following methods:
● Listen to your customer’s needs.
● Ask the customer questions about their brand, the issues they have faced, current solutions adopted by the company, and their needs as a company.
● Be objective in your advice.
● Maintain a focus on how the customer’s issues can be resolved, rather than the features of your own products or services.
● Demonstrate how you have understood the customer’s needs.
● Offer valuable information and resources to your customer.
● Provide a bespoke solution to fit the needs of your customer, which might not include your own services or products.
Consultative Selling Example
The goal of consultative selling is to understand the customer's needs and provide tailored solutions that directly address those needs.
Here is an example of this approach in action:
Imagine you work for a company that sells software solutions to small businesses, and you are now in contact with the owner of a retail store who may be interested in your software.
1) Research: Before meeting with the owner, you have conducted thorough research into their business. Through this research, you have gathered that the company struggles with inventory management, and they do not have a streamlined point-of-sale (PoS) process.
2) Discovery: When you eventually meet with the owner, you begin by asking open-ended questions to better understand their challenges. This may includequestions like:
a) “Could you tell me more about how you currently manage your inventory?”
b) “Are there any specific issues you have encountered with your PoS system?”
c) “Do you have any growth goals for the next year or more?”
3) Listen: You actively listen to the owner’s responses, taking notes and asking further questions if necessary. As they talk about the issues they are facing you empathise with their situation, demonstrating a genuine interest in overcoming their problems.
4) Offer insight: You use the information you have gathered during the conversation to provide valuable insights. In this example, you could say:
a) “It sounds like your inventory management could be more efficient. Our software offers real-time tracking and analytics that will help you stay on top of your inventory levels”
b) "Many businesses in your industry have seen significant improvements in customer satisfaction and sales after implementing our point-of-sale solution."
5) Bespoke solution: You then offer a solution that is customised to their specific needs. Rather than proposing a generic ‘one size fits all’ solution, you propose a combination of software modules that address the challenges they face with their inventory and Point of Sale systems. You can then explain exactly how these solutions would work to improve their overall operations.
6) Address concerns: It is likely that the customer will then have concerns about implementing your system. In this situation, you must clearly and honestly address these concerns with clear answers.
7) Close the sale: If the customer agrees that your solution is the right one for their business, you may then begin to close the sale, ensuring that all questions are answered so the customer can feel confident in their decision.
8) Followup: After you have completed the sale, it is important to remain in contact with the business to maintain trust between yourself and them. You should also provide a consultation with the customer to ensure they have implemented the software correctly, and are using it to their advantage. In this example, you can help the customer to understand the true value of your software, and you will gain a long-standing relationship with them that may lead to further sales or upgrades in the future.
In this consultative selling example, the focus is on understanding the customer's unique needs, providing bespoke solutions and building a lasting partnership based on trust and value.
What is the Difference Between Consultative Sales and NormalSales?
Consultative selling differs from traditional sales roles as it aims to offer the client specific solutions to their issues, by working together to understand the exact challenges they face, and how the products or services offered by the salesperson can benefit the company by addressing the specific problems they face.
In traditional selling, the salesperson will often focus on detailing the general benefits of using their products or services, which can often seem too impersonal. In the modern world of sales and advertising, most consumers like to see a sales pitch or solution that is tailored to their needs, much in the same way that advertising on the internet has pivoted towards utilising cookies to advertise products that are relevant to the viewer.
Looking for your next consultative sales role? Morgan Philips provides expertn services in specialist recruitment, executive search functions, and talent consulting for a range of clients across the UK. You can also explore our job search function to find the perfect role for you.