Thursday, March 12, 2009

Consultative selling

On Salesblogcast - someone asked the question:

What are the strengths and weaknesses of consultative selling?

Here's my answer to the question on the blog:

Everyone in sales recognizes that one customer isn't the same as the other.And anyone in sales management will recognize that one salesman isn't the same as the other.
Some salesmen tend to ask more questions and others tend to want to make it a quick and smooth transaction for the customer.

The term consultative selling, I believe, is a result from sales managers and/or trainers trying to typecast a certain method of selling. In organizations where the top 20% performers all seem to be the type that asks more questions - salesmanagers would typically like to extend that method to the lower performers, by tweaking their approach and calling the preferred approach a name. Could have been 'question'-selling.

With that said - listening to the customer, and asking the right qualifying questions applies to any sale, regardless of the 'method' used.Although I like using a conceptual form to continue to think about its plusses or minuses and to add thought to matter, it often occurs to me that the sales profession is regarded as slick and smooth and people like to give it an intellectual touch by making it a semi-consulting job. It is not really.

You're just trying to close the deal - whatever it takes.Consulting means you're being paid by the hour, because you're offering skill, experience or insight (a combination likely) to your customer. Salesmen are paid to close deals.

Staying in touch with your customer is very natural for most salesmen. Asking the right questions sometimes is less natural - especially for the talkers.

Bringing 'consultative selling' back to its basics to me is no more than figuring out how you could best match your offering with the clients, so that
1) he ends up buying your product/service, and
2) you sound like someone that is genuinely trying to help, even though you're a salesman ;-)

To answer the question:
S: The emphasis on asking good (qualifying) questions
W: The tendency to over-complicate/over-intellectualize the job. The deal will still need to be closed, no matter how well you find the answers to your questions.

What are your thoughts?

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