Sales Challenge #2: Being a Consultative Seller

Last week, we discussed a sales challenge that, we believe, almost all salespeople struggle to overcome- differentiating and making an elevator pitch that is unique. This week, we continue our discussion of the Top 3 Sales Challenges and cover challenge #2- Being a Consultative Seller.

Consultative selling is an approach that’s hyper focused on the customer. More than “the customer is always right,” it’s all about them to the Nth degree. The technique helps you as a sales professional better understand your customers’ challenges so you can more effectively position your solution in a compelling way.

There are 9 specific attributes for consultative selling defined within the Objective Management Group (OMG) sales evaluation, the leading sales assessment tool in the industry for over a decade:

  1. Developing strong relationships…. Deeper questioning helps this aspect. Going beyond small talk is how real trust develops. Don’t expect it to happen overnight though; it is a process.
  2. Asking “Great” Questions….  These are questions that help uncover a problem or opportunity. They should not launch you into “presentation mode.”
  3. Asking “Enough” questions….  Do you probe enough to understand what’s going on beneath the surface? How is the problem impacting their personal or business situation? Do you stop when you think you have enough to put together a proposal?
  4. Listening and asking questions with ease…. Listening does not mean waiting for the pause for your turn to talk. Instead, listening to understand is what you do when trying to understand what the prospect is really trying to tell you.  Don’t assume you know. When they pause, you then ask another clarifying questions.
  5. Asking tough questions…. The best way to establish yourself as a trusted adviser is to ask the uncomfortable questions. But it takes courage. Anyone can ask the easy ones.
  6. Uncovering issues…. Understanding the prospect’s business challenges is what you actually offer. It goes well beyond the “product” you’re trying to sell. Skilled salespeople uncover or foresee real problems and advise accordingly.
  7. Understanding how prospects will buy…. Remember, it’s their buying process not your sales process. However, your questions are key in helping prospects drive urgency and self-discovery.
  8. Presenting at appropriate times…. Timing is everything. Sometimes we get ahead of the prospect, and other times it just doesn’t make sense to present at all. Learn to modulate your conversations so you and they can be in sync.

And finally,

  1. Taking nothing for granted….  Even when you do everything right, things can still go wrong, and very quickly. Elite salespeople always have a bit of skepticism.  It is a process to build a relationship.

Review these 9 attributes and then think back to your last meeting or conversation with a prospect. How many of these did you do? How many didn’t you do? Which could you use to get better at? Strengthening your consultative selling skills in these 9 areas will help improve your overall sales success.

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