Category Archives: Consultative Selling
We need to make assumptions in life; we would never move forward without them. However, we need to periodically check, or even change, them because unquestioned assumptions can appear as facts. Proof of this is found in the unlikeliest of places: the tomato, a plant once so feared people called it the “poison apple.”
Those living in the 1700s frequently became sick after eating tomatoes. Many died. People believed that it was so dangerous that it was classified in a family of plant species carrying the name “deadly nightshade.”
Yet, the tomato they feared was identical to the one we enjoy today. So, why were people terrified of tomatoes? The answer lies in their assumptions.
Many Europeans at the time ate from plates made of pewter, an alloy high in lead. The acidity in tomatoes is strong enough to leach this lead from the surface. For 200 years, they assumed the tomato was to blame.
Even the most faulty assumptions can persist for centuries.
The story of the tomato serves as a reminder of how assumptions can mislead and cause bad decision making — two big threats for people in sales. Pursuing an opportunity or growing an account has a lot to do with making frequent strategic and tactical decisions. If those pursuit decisions are based on faulty information — due to assumptions versus facts — the path chosen can lead to » Continue Reading.
Consultative selling is a method for narrowing the remove between the seller and buyer. By closing this gap, the relationship transcends a “give and take” dynamic to become more of a shared effort to resolve a complex business problem. Reaching this point means embracing these guiding principles.
Exude Conviction, Confidence & Curiosity
Developing skills and behaviors that demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and attentiveness to the details coming from the customer. Bring a strong point of view balanced with a genuine interest in them and what they are trying to achieve.
Connect to the Emotional Side of Buying
In one word, sellers must empathize. Doing so means not simply acknowledging the customer’s challenges but seeking to feel what they feel and understand what they think. Friend/Foe Bias is another form of cognitive bias that tells us we are naturally wired to assess each other’s intentions and to quickly decide if someone is a friend or foe (threat). Seller behaviors must not be manipulative or appear self-serving to avoid triggering a threat response and eroding trust.
Get the customer talking. You cannot move the sale forward without both sides contributing to the conversation. Some buyers are reluctant to offer information which is why effective sellers first give so they can eventually get. Customers will resist opening up if they: are bored, feel interrogated, are asked uneducated questions, » Continue Reading.
It’s time to put the customer back into the conversation. The greatest resource a seller has in winning new business is an honest dialogue. Engage the process as a team. Call upon these core tenets of consultative selling in every buyer interaction.
Sellers need to come prepared. Effective selling begins before the conversation starts. Seek out resources to learn more about the key drivers behind the customer’s business as well as the decision makers and their process. Interactions with the customer are valuable, so be sure to tackle the easy questions on your own before meeting the customer.
Foster openness through dialogue that allows the buyer to feel less guarded about their insights on what they need in a solution. This exchange primes the seller to effectively position value later. All things being equal, the ability of a seller to tightly demonstrate relevance to a specific customer issue or opportunity (rather than simply an industry-wide one) will always be more compelling.
Successful sellers rely on periodic feedback from the customer. This “checking in” ensures that the customer is involved in the conversation. Feedback will reveal if the seller has offered any ideas that are incongruous to the customer’s perspective. Knowing these objections is critical before making recommendations that involve the product at hand.
By creating a dialogue, asking questions, and eliciting feedback, sellers will be well prepared to ask for the » Continue Reading.
Competing in the world of selling today means understanding the changing world of your buyers and adjusting your sales approach accordingly. The biggest change for sellers is that the game has gotten harder, and sellers need to execute at a higher level than ever before to compete. Committing to this level of change is the difference between college sports and pro. The players are bigger. The game is faster. The conditions are more challenging.
Recent Changes in the Buying Process Unprecedented access to information: Today’s buyers are more informed and more prepared. They perform extensive research and many are deciding on solutions before engaging a salesperson or having a conversation. As a result, buyers show up with an arsenal of knowledge as well as preconceived idea of what they believe they need. They are also able to complete more phases of the buying cycle on their own. Research from Forrester forecasts that “1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by the year 2020.” This isn’t the end of the sales profession but rather a wake-up call to all sellers that the customer is looking for more. Availability of options: Related to the overabundance of information, buyers today are bombarded with opinions and options. There can be a multitude of ways to solve a particular issue and navigating the best path can be a challenge. Further complicating the challenge is » Continue Reading.
There is no second act in selling. Buyers have too many options and not enough time. When your salespeople show up, they must be exceptional – cutting through the noise and distilling what matters most.
Join Richardson for a complimentary webinar, Adjusting Your Consultative Selling Approach to Engage The Modern Buyer, on August 8 at 3:00 PM EST. In this webinar, attendees will learn how to create a fresh approach to their Consultative Selling Training Programs that empowers their sales organizations:
To understand not only buyer psychology, but the neuroscience and behavioral science behind how people form impressions, make judgments, and arrive at decisions How to foster trust and encourage openness from their buyers How to float ideas in a way that deepens the conversation rather than limiting it
Many large, complex sales require sales professionals to approach pitching as a team. Often, there is strength in numbers, but preparation and logistics become even more critical in order to show a unified front to the customer.
Preparation for Pitching as a Team
An important consideration is choosing who will handle the opening. The person opening has to be skilled in making an impact, commanding attention, and establishing an immediate hook. Typically, he/she will give opening remarks, a rundown of the agenda, introduce team members, and handle transitions.
It is vital to prepare specific roles and content for each member of the team. Every person should know what they’re going to say, and they should convey the value they bring to the table. Even though everyone has their own expertise, all must be aligned behind the same clear message during the sales pitch.
To anticipate and prepare for possible questions and objections, it helps for the team to brainstorm beforehand. What might be an issue? How will the team handle it? Who, specifically, will address questions in which areas? Each presenter should know which part of the overall story he/she is responsible for, along with how his/her content dovetails with what the other presenters are saying.
Whether or not each person stands up to make his/her presentation depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, it’s natural to stand, even if everyone else is seated. Standing commands » Continue Reading.
Sales professionals have to nail their sales pitch all the time: over the phone, in person, with prospects, with established customers; a sales pitch can take place in any phase of the sales process.
But when a sales pitch involves large, complex sales, often with long selling cycles, or finals presentation as part of RFP processes, it pays to get them right. This is the time to demonstrate how thoroughly you’ve done your homework, how closely you’ve listened to the customer, what thought leadership and knowledge you possess in the customer’s industry, and how well your solution accomplishes its goals.
It is easily said, but it can be hard to convey when standing in front of the customer. What is needed is a plan that sets the stage for an effective sales dialogue at this important point in the selling process.
Making the Right Sales Pitch
(1) Tell their story: The pitch should be a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. It should help your customer visualize the current situation and the desired end state. Think about an appropriate visual to capture your customer’s interest and make the scenario relevant for him/her.
(2) Summarize your understanding: Review what you know about the customer: what he/she is looking to accomplish, the priorities of his/her stakeholders, challenges facing the industry, and whether or not he/she is differentiated in the market. Then, check to validate » Continue Reading.
The prospecting process starts with turning suspects into prospects, then continues with preparation. Let’s say you’ve identified Ms. Johnson as the person you want to contact because she works for X Company, which is in your targeted industry, and there are disruptive technologies having a negative impact on X’s go-to-market strategy. Ms. Johnson is new to her role as senior vice president, and you have a great story to tell about how you can help get X back on track. Before you pick up the phone and call Ms. Johnson (and all those other prospects you’ve been researching), you need a prospecting plan.
3 Elements of a Good Prospecting Plan
1) Make it SMART.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Just as with setting SMART goals, a SMART plan brings structure and accountability to prospecting.
For example, you might develop a monthly prospecting plan in which certain outcomes are identified: “I want to schedule meetings every month with ten qualified prospects.” The exact number could be five meetings or 100 meetings, depending on your organization. The point is to be SMART in defining your plan, and over time, refine the plan so it reflects what works and continues to challenge you. If you establish a target of ten prospect meetings each month and continue to get 15, then your target is too low. If you only average three prospect meetings per month, your target is not » Continue Reading.