Consultative sales strategies focus on connecting, nurturing, and supporting relationships. But it’s not all about building relationships. Top consultative salespeople are skilled…otherwise they would make a lot of friends but not a lot of sales.
What Consultative Sales Is and Is Not
- Consultative selling is not just about building rapport by finding things in common…it is about building rapport by asking valuable questions that help prospects make decisions.
- It is not just about asking information-gathering questions…it is about asking customer-focused questions, many of which use a counselling format.
- It is not only about asking a lot of questions…it is about helping prospects follow a decision path that helps them process their many thoughts, considerations, decisions, and information.
- It’s not about finding clever ways to address objections…it is about understanding that objections are often caused by the salesperson pitching something the prospect doesn’t want or presenting before the prospect is ready for it.
Often when I ask salespeople if they sell consultatively, they say yes. When I ask them what consultative selling is, they will tell me it’s about building rapport and relationship. And that’s true. But when I hear them selling, their focus will be on asking questions solely for the purpose of setting up an opportunity for them to present.
Selling Is About Decision-Making
But true consultative sales is about helping prospects make decisions…and many of those decisions are not necessarily related to what the salesperson is selling. For instance, suppose a home buyer is feeling uncertain about his job. He may not want to talk about that with the salesperson, or he may not even be thinking about it consciously. But it affects his decision about whether to hire a real estate agent or not.
A traditional salesperson focused only on setting up an opportunity to present won’t find this issue and may go away disappointed and frustrated that he couldn’t convert this lead.
Six Sales Skills for the Consultative Salesperson
There are six consultative sales skills that can be learned in order to master selling without pressure:
1. Asking counseling questions
2. Helping prospects address their own objections
3. Using a decision protocol
4. Embracing the hourglass approach
5. Chaining questions
6. Gaining permission to close
These proven strategies help real estate agents move away from the pushy aggressive approach that often alienates customers. Yet they give salespeople great control, allowing them to be dramatically effective while being respectful and relaxed.