Whatever product or services you offer you can use consultative selling as a way to help your prospect come to a buying decision with you without seeming like a high pressure sales person, without pushing your offer down their throat and without them feeling that they are being sold to in a high pressure way.
The great thing about consultative selling is that you can do it either face-to-face with one or a group of individuals or in a sales brochure or letter or you can do it online in your website copy, your emails, your free downloads, ebooks, audios, videos etc. It is, in my view (and according to lots of sales experts) the best and highest converting sales technique around.
I have been selling consulting services since the 1990s when I was a management trainer and organizational consultant. And most recently I’ve used consultative selling with clients I work with both on and offline to help them develop their businesses on the internet. I developed the skills over time because I was never a born salesmen in fact I was very shy and introverted (and still am!). I disliked the idea of pushing a sale.
So I needed to develop a way to sell that was comfortable to me and where I felt I not only gave good value to my prospect in the process but whereby they also wanted to get more from me. Whether you do it online or offline consultative selling is also a great way to build relationships with your prospects over time. So even if they don’t buy from you the first, second or third time, your relationship will have developed enough trust to ensure that when their problem really is critical that it is you they will turn to for help.
Consultative selling is, according to many, the best sales technique and the best way of becoming a welcome helper rather than an unwelcome pushy sales person.
Okay, so what does consultative selling involve: 8 Top Tips
There are lots of techniques you can use to develop a consultative selling approach. I have listed what I think are some of the key ones. The list is not exhaustive but hopefully will give you an idea:
1. Ask questions and gather as much info as you can. People love talking about their businesses and the challenges it entails so tap into their knowledge and excitement. Get into conversations that make them enthusiastic. But be genuinely interested, don’t pretend, pretense is easy to spot.
2. Empathise with your prospect’s problem/s, show that you understand. When I’ve hired people it has really helped when people show they understand what I am trying to achieve – even if they don’t have an immediate answer. I think we all appreciate people who think and try to come up with a considered response rather than hastily come out with trite and premature ‘solutions’.
3. Focusing on them not you or your product/service. It’s easy to think that everyone needs our service so it is natural to be obsessed with it. We do this without even recognizing that we do it. But empathy also means leaving behind our obsession with our own product and method of delivery and focusing on the problem and outcome for the prospect instead.
4. Help them get clarity. Sometimes people who need your help often don’t know what they need or they can’t articulate it. This is where they need your leadership. Your questions and comments need to be oriented to helping them get clarity – not just on their problem but on the solution too. Remember – a confused mind never buys.
5. Become a partner in resolving the problem. Try to give your prospect a feeling of being supported not ‘sold to’. Help them to feel that their solution relies on a partnership rather than just something that just you or they are responsible for.
6. Give value. Offer your best and try not to ‘hide’ all your good offers and knowledge from a prospect until they are forced to buy it from you. If appropriate offer hints and tips they could try. I often offer free downloads to people who sign up on my squeeze pages which helps them see that I have the knowledge to help them but also that I’m happy to give away suggestions for free.
7. ‘Seeding’. This is a technique which allows your client to identify the gaps in their approaches to a problem – gaps which you can fill with your knowledge and expertise. It’s called seeding because it’s not the whole plant it’s just the ‘seed’, it lets your client begin to see and then grow a description of the problem for themselves rather than you telling them what your description is.
8. Your knowledge is an investment for them not a cost. When the conversation comes around to them talking about buying from you: make sure that they understand that paying you is an investment not a cost. Too many ‘non-business’ thinkers sometimes consider paying for what you might be offering just as a cost. But focus on what they are going to get in return and they will begin to see it as more of an investment. Think of your product or service as an investment not a cost. Focus on the benefits they will get from buying from you.
As I mentioned you can do consultative selling online in the copy of your site, emails or blogs, and on your sales letters and brochures. You simply do in writing what you do in speaking. For example, by adopting a questioning approach i.e. you alert your prospective buyer to the reasons they are seeking a product or service such as yours and remind them of their need and just hint at the value of your solution. I try to use consultative selling in my online approach, my written sales copy, when I talk to a client one-to-one or when I speak publicly on the stage with larger groups.
Consultative selling allows you to give your prospect good value without feeling under pressure to be salesy and without your prospect feeling that they are being ‘sold to’. Whether I’ve used it online or offline it has definitely been the best sales technique for me.
Maybe you do some or all of these things yourself already – but if not, try out some of the techniques and see how they work for you, either one-to-one or in your emails or website copy or brochures. I’d love to know if you use any (or other similar) techniques already or what you think you could adapt to your approach.