May 29, 2012

One of the first things you will learn as a sales person is the power of consultative selling. Unlike other types of selling, this method relies on providing solutions and acting as a trusted consultant to your client. Once you’ve developed this kind of relationship, the selling portion of the process becomes very easy, in fact, you won’t even have to do anything special once you’ve reached this point.

The first step in the consultative selling process is to build a relationship of trust with your client. Listen to their needs, and don’t try to sell them a thing. Think of it as setting the stage for your sale. You need to take the time to court your client and show them you are a trustworthy person that they can rely on – someone who is interested in providing solutions, not selling products.

Once you have developed this relationship of trust, your client will begin discussing their needs in more depth. Take notes and consider all of the implications of the problems they bring you. Encourage them to tell you more about their organization, what’s working and what isn’t. Ask if they will share their company’s current short and long range goals.

As you listen, look for key phrases such as “I really wish we…” or “It would be nice if…” These are your keys to making the sale.

Now that you have a better idea of your client’s needs, the next phase of consultative sales is to match what you have to offer with those needs. Be realistic. If you can’t solve their problems, don’t lie or be overly optimistic of your product or service’s capabilities. You’ve worked hard to build this relationship of trust, don’t bury it now.

Develop a plan of action to address your client’s needs, step by step. Show them visually how your product or service will solve their current problems and help them reach their goals. This is very much like creating a business plan for a new company. By taking to time to put together a detailed proposal, instead of a simple sales pitch, your client will appreciate the work you’ve put in, how you’ve listened to what they need and discovered a solution to their problems.

And that right there is the key – you don’t want to be seen as a “Sales Person,” you want to be seen as a “Problem Solver.” Once you’ve helped a key decision maker solve one problem, they’ll be much more likely to come to you in the future when they have another one.

Relationship building is vital to developing a consultative selling process. You must be willing to invest the time and effort into creating a lasting relationship with your clients. While this process is slightly slower than a fast-paced sales deal, in the long run, you’ll end up with higher sales figures and even better, your clients will be much more likely to recommend you to their friends and associates. You can’t beat that kind of word of mouth advertising.

Not only will this type of sales process benefit your bottom line, it will also help you develop a reputation as a caring company that is interested in truly helping their clients. And that right there will go a very long way in today’s world.