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What is Consultative Selling?

Consultative selling sales training courses are becoming increasingly popular. Even other sales training classes and sales coaching classes are offering consultative selling as a part of the curriculum. So, what is consultative selling? As any of these sales training courses will tell you consultative selling is a type of selling in which the selling is based on customer needs rather. It is a non-manipulative process. The focus here is not on product. Instead a client’s need is clearly defined and the client’s needs and objectives are addressed jointly.

So, what is the difference between traditional selling and consultative selling? As any sales coaching manual or sales training manual will tell you in simple words, traditional selling is based on the need to sell an already existing product whereas in consultative selling the emphasis is on meeting the needs of a customer by developing a solution to those needs. This solution can be a product or a service or a combination of both. In traditional selling the sales person has to explain the features of the existing product or service and convince the customer that they need these features. In effect traditional selling is manipulative whereas consultative selling is the opposite. The sales person has to wait till the end of the presentation to know whether a person is going to buy his product or not in traditional selling. In consultative selling this problem is not there.

You go for any sales training courses or sales coaching classes you will here these words “Customer is king”. This is true for consultative selling as well. The difference is that you first get to know your customer before you develop a product. This is especially important if your company is offering financial services. Knowing the client will also help you in assessing the financial well being of the company. To do this you should be able to ask the correct questions and to listen to the person at the opposite end. For instance if you are offering financial solutions some of the questions could be

• How many years have you been investing?
• What types of investments have you purchased before (for example, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and variable or fixed annuities)?

Do not ask open ended questions initially rather ask questions that are useful for information gathering. Later you can ask more open ended questions. At this stage you are not expected to offer an opinion and it is best you don’t. This is only the preliminary stage.

Many sales training courses try to make consultative selling sound as though it is a panacea to all evils. It is not a magic potion that is going to make your company profit rise in laps and bounds. There will be a difference but it will take time. A good sales training course will tell you this. It will also tell you that however hard you have worked to satisfy the customer by designing a solution that is suitable to the clients need; the client is going to have some objections to the plan. It is a part of the game. Clients may feel that the investment that they are required to make is not commensurate with the solution that they will be getting. They might have some preconceived notions about certain type of products. They might be hesitant about committing to a program. How can you deal with them? The best way to deal with this is to restate them. This will make the clients explain why they have the objections. Once the objections are clear you can address them. Sometimes, as the client explains his/her objection he/she might realize that the objections are not valid ones and they might just withdraw them. The most important part is the actual implementation of a solution. This is the time when the customer starts getting doubts as he/she starts getting unsolicited advice from well wishers. So, it is imperative to ensure that you are to see to it that the process doesn’t get derailed.

If you get a chance to attend a sales training course or sales coaching course that offers consultative selling, don’t hesitate, just go ahead and make maximum use of it. Remember to make hay while the sun shines.

About the Author: Sean McPheat provides sales coaching, sales training courses and sales consulting to a number of businesses around the globe. He is the owner of MTD Sales Training and designs and delivers sales training, programmes and consultancy assignments across the UK, Europe, US .

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