Consultative Selling Tips To Ensure You Evolve With Buyers

consultative selling

Consultative selling has always been touted as an effective method of sales. Now, it’s vital because it aligns directly with what today’s buyers want. Providing relevant ideas to help their business and knowing their company’s line of business are two of the top factors that B2B buyers seek in a salesperson, according to SalesFuel’s Voice of the Buyer survey

Traditional vs. consultative selling

In an article for HubSpot, Ben Taylor explains the differences between traditional styles of selling and the consultative approach:

  • Traditional selling involves reps focusing on their product, its features and its benefits. 
  • Needs-​based, or consultative, selling focuses on the buyer, including their needs, goals, pain points, etc. It is based on the relationship between the buyer and seller.

What really separates the two, as Taylor writes, is the fact that “Consultative selling is an approach that focuses on creating value and trust with a prospect and exploring their needs before offering a solution.” 

Rather than approaching the buyer with what you have to offer, you instead learn as much as possible about them. This not only establishes a relationship on which you can build, but also informs you so that you qualify the prospect and determine how your solution could help.

Seven tips to integrate into your sales

Taylor shares some tips and techniques to help sellers integrate the consultative selling style into their own processes. “Consultative selling fits the inside sales model hand in glove,” he writes. “It allows sellers to uncover customer needs faster and position more compelling solutions. Putting this strategy into action requires seven key techniques.”

Balance questions with insights

As we’ve said before, asking questions is vital to uncovering information that reps can use to connect with buyers and sell more effectively. But, there’s a careful balance to asking so that the buyer doesn’t feel interrogated. Taylor suggests balancing questions with insights. Providing these tidbits of information don’t just give the buyer a break from a barrage of questions; they also provide rationale for the questions you ask and boost your credibility

Build knowledge-​based trust

Consultative selling is rooted in relationships, so it makes sense that sellers need to focus on building trust. Now, this may seem more difficult, as many of today’s sales are conducted virtually. As Taylor writes, “Sellers can overcome this obstacle by developing knowledge-​based trust: the process of building trust from actions that are consistent with words.” One way to do this is to take time to make a follow-​up call after you speak for the first time. It doesn’t matter what you call about; you can simply just thank them for the time and reiterate how much you enjoyed speaking with them. Doing so reinforces your word: You care about the prospect and their business. This alignment of your words and your actions helps knowledge-​based trust. 

Take ownership of the conversation

Dialogue is the key to consultative selling, according to Taylor. But that doesn’t mean sellers back off of taking control of this dialogue. “Sellers still need to guide the conversation,” he explains. “The customer needs to understand they’re partnering with someone who can guide them through the complexities of business challenges.”

Steer conversations using topics that are relevant to the buyer and their needs, as well as topics that showcase your expertise and knowledge. This will establish you as a credible expert while showing your understanding of their needs and business. Be cautious though that you don’t dominate. You can control the conversation without being domineering. “Sellers must also be comfortable with using silence to emphasize key points and let their customers have a turn,” Taylor writes.

Evolve with your buyers

These tips will help you adapt to the consultative selling style that resonates with today’s buyers. Focusing on their needs initially will give you insights to help you form relationships with prospects, establish trust and learn about their business so you can expertly apply your solution. 

And to learn more about how to establish credibility, make sure to read SalesCred, authored by SalesFuel CEO C. Lee Smith. You can learn more about what inspired C. Lee Smith to write SalesCred and the vital role credibility plays in sales success here.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision-​makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.