Some people define it as the “new way to sell”. Even if you’re not “commercial” or “seller” we must not forget that being aware or unwillingly everyboy sell something, an idea, a plan, our values … Therefore we will use the term seller between quotation marks throughout the article.
But what is it exactly? Let’s start with its definition, the consultative sales process mainly focuses on the potential customer experience in interacting with the “seller”. It is based on finding ways to provide value to the customer and that everything is focused on them. It is not about your product, your business, your figures … the purpose is to know your customer needs. Therefore, it is sometimes also defined as selling solution. Being able to identify the problem and provide the right solution becomes more complicated in a foreign market.
Consultative selling or solution therefore is a sales methodology in which the seller acts as an advisor. Instead of promoting an existing product, the seller identifies the needs and problems of a client, so that it acts as an expert in discovering the needs and adds value beyond the product or service (your bid), but offering a solution. The emphasis is on what the potential customer wants and needs, not what one wants and needs from the potential customer.
We could say that consultative selling is based on six pillars:
We will briefly describe each of the six commandments of consultative selling:
The research phase of the consultative selling involves the use of lead intelligence, meaning knowledge acquired by identifying each of the potential customers. This is not only to define them based on company size, sector…, the “seller” must also spend some time researching recent company news, social network profiles, personal blogs, the person with whom we met … And this phase is even more important at international level where not always we have the possibility to have a network so we have no criterion to read between lines, to classify a potential customer in cultural barriers, customs… that are not similar to ours.
Always research first.
When talking with a potential client, be sure to ask open questions. Now you have all this detailed information as a result of that investigation, sometimes we make the mistake of assuming we know everything about them. The idea is to let potential customer provides us all the information so as to help to create a bond of trust between the seller and the contact. If we came from abroad, although the role of expert who can provide a solution to a problem that in our countries is common to take it later, we should let international potential customer feel comfortable, feel free to ask and that we are interested about their problems. It is time to create empathy.
Questions are one of your best sales tools, in the consultative process are key and essential in an international level.
Always be asking.
Listen. It is the most important thing that can build a big seller. And we are talking here about active listening. Not only the content but the tone, the level of enthusiasm, body language. These elements help to decide what should be the next move.
Always be listening
It adds value and teaches. The result may not involve the use or purchase of your product or service and therefore should be careful not to give away much knowledge to the client. They must balance the knowledge that gives the questions and answers you get. But especially when it comes to external market where sometimes we cannot compete just on price, specifications, a product, a model traditional sales, consultative selling is a very powerful tool to international competitors who forget that the customer is no longer what it was, and less international. We must make a difference to others.
But always be teaching.
To differentiate who is qualified to decide about the purchase. If you are not qualified you may be selling you the solution but not the product or service. If you qualified, organized and has budget is in a position to make a “buy” decision.
- Close / sell
The closing sequence should feel natural, like a friend who offers a solution to the problem of another friend. As an expert who has traveled far because it has already helped his country to many people (companies) and want to continue doing so in new markets.
And though after all we stay with the main change is simple, to move from selling products to providing solutions, implementing it involves change of mentality. It is not about demonstrations; releasing the speech of the advantages of technology… it is about presenting business benefits, not features of the product. A change that affects not only to the seller but to the philosophy of the company globally.
But do not forget that “People hate to be sold products, but they like to buy.” And people like even less to be sold foreign products, but people love buying foreign products.
Therefore, let’s get in touch through questions, give importance to the customer and we must create empathize, put aside the claims and the sale of speeches, and focus to guide the customer to the natural conclusion (their conclusion) that they need the product / service (our product / service) that will help to solve a problem or to achieve a particular purpose.
We are no longer on win-win negotiation and sales process; the idea is to see that it is a “YOU win”.