Evolve and Embrace Advanced Consultative Selling

Consultative selling shouldn’t be an unfamiliar term to sellers. This sales approach evolved from the traditional sales process of the past that relied heavily on a purely transactional process. While it has been largely embraced, it may be time for it to evolve again.

While consultative selling, a term coined in the 70s, has been the ideal for decades, RAIN Today’s Mike Schultz believes that modern sellers need to again adjust their sales process to changing buying behaviors and technology.

Consultative selling is a sales approach centered around understanding buyer needs and positioning offerings as solutions to problems. Consultative sellers use empathy and incisive questions to learn about a buyer’s reality and how they can succeed.”

Collaboration is at the heart of consultative selling, which is why is it so effective. Relationships are front and center, as opposed to a purely transactional process. Trust and credibility play a large role, and the buyer and seller work together to uncover need and decide the best solution for the buyer's ideal reality. 

Advanced consultative selling is the next step

Schultz writes that this approach, while still effective, is being improved upon by top sellers. RAIN Today research revealed what separates top sellers from the rest, and it’s clear that an evolution of process is necessary for success. Sellers who outperform are taking the process even further to a more advanced consultative selling process. “…The concept breaks new ground to include strategy consulting, in which the seller takes an active role in setting—or later altering and improving—the agenda itself,” he explains.

While advanced consultative selling still includes collaboration, it also has evolved into a bit more. Its top three factors include:

  • Educating prospects on new ideas and perspectives
  • Collaborating with prospects
  • Persuading prospects that they will achieve desired results

Sellers inspire buyers and drive change with ideas that matter by taking these three actions. This is advanced consultative selling, or insight selling,” Schultz explains.

These factors align with the results of SalesFuel’s own research. The Voice of the Buyer study found that bringing new ideas and insight, as well as collaborating and creative out-​of-​the-​box thinking, are what buyers want from sellers. To be successful, today’s buyers must go beyond understanding buyer needs and working together; sellers must successfully be able to drive action by demonstrating a new reality in which the buyer reaches goals with a specific unique solution. “The best sellers communicate the impact of solutions, outlining how the buyer’s aspirations and afflictions might come to pass (or not) and demonstrating a new reality,” he writes. Advanced consultative selling takes sellers from "learning" about a buyer's reality to actually crafting one for them.

The evolved way to sell

As Schultz explains, this new advanced consultative process has evolved to include strategizing with the buyer to set an agenda. Doing so leads to a reality in which the buyer sees themselves using the solution to reach a desired outcome, an outcome that you have collaborated to determine.

Consultative selling originally encompassed these three factors:

  • Understanding need as defined by the buyer
  • Presenting offerings as solutions
  • Solving the problem

Advanced consultative selling has evolved into so much more:

  • Anticipating need
  • Anticipating eventualities
  • Providing and inspiring with new ideas
  • Challenging the status quo
  • Driving change
  • Driving decision making
  • Redefining reality

To compete with today’s top sellers, embrace this updated sales process and take a more active role alongside the buyer. You, and your buyers, will reap the benefits. And along the way, check out past SalesFuel tips that can help you through the journey, from using curiosity to question the status quo to effectively painting a new reality for prospects.

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels

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.