The main reason why consultative selling has become increasingly important in sales is simple: competition has increased. Today, it is a fact that customers can easily buy from competitors all over the world. However, on the customer side things have also changed, as there are more decision makers than ever before involved in the buying decision.
These are only three of many reasons that indicate that sales organisations should clearly differentiate themselves from their competitors. The fact is that providing professional advice to their customers during the entire decision-making process is the best approach to stay ahead of the competition. In practice, this means to actively work on customer-oriented solutions and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
Consequently, consultative selling is more than just a sales method. It is the subtle difference that gives suppliers the opportunity to build long-term, trust-based customer relationships and provides a real win-win situation to influence the buying decision.
The most important target in consultative selling: The customer’s personal win in quality advice
- The aim of consultative selling is that the salesperson:
- Recognises and precisely analyses the customer needs for the product/service.
- Offers a product/service which creates additional value to the customer’s value chain.
- Is permanently perceived by the customer as a trusted advisor based on their performance.
- Transforms from product vendor to solution seller.
Seven reasons for consultative selling: This is what advisors do better than vendors
- Customer advisors enjoy the confidence of the customers.
The fact is that suppliers are ten a penny these days. Advisors on the hand know the challenges their customers face and they help the customer reach their business targets with their products and services. Those stuck at supplier status have the disadvantage of typically being assessed on price criteria alone.
- Advisors cooperate and develop solutions for the customer.
Consultative selling means that advisors analyse precisely the customer needs and fully meet these needs with their offers. To do so, it is necessary to have a cooperative approach to the customer relationship.
- Advisors save valuable resources.
Let’s take time as an example: those who professionally use consultative selling collect important information to be prepared: competitors in the market, the customer’s business targets, industry challenges. If you are well informed in the analysis meeting during the sales conversation, you avoid lengthy explanations of the customer’s current situation.
- Advisors are able to give a clear definition of the product value to the customer.
“Appealing and durable” is no longer sufficient for describing a product. Customers wish to know which benefits products or components really provide. In other words: which benefit the customer organisation will get from buying and using a product. Ideally, the value should also be displayed on the balance sheet. If possible, present numbers and clearly define the ROI of a solution and do not only focus on the advantageous purchase price.
- Advisors prepare to provide individual information for all the decision makers in the customer’s organisation.
On the customer side, salespeople see an increasing number of people being involved in sales projects. It is therefore not only important to provide decision-relevant information for each stage of the sales process within the framework of the customer journey, but it is also necessary to communicate the benefit of the solution offered to every responsible person in the customer organisation. There is a difference as to whether the benefits of a product are explained to an engineer, a purchaser or a managing director. According to a study conducted by CSO Insights, there are currently six decision makers from different departments involved in a B2B sales conversation on the customer side.
- Advisors are aware that they are responsible for the customer experience.
In many cases, professional salespeople are the first and most important human interface in the provider-customer-interaction. Thus, their efforts determine the experience a customer has with a provider, its performance and its service.
- Advisors are in good standing with the customer.
There are still salespeople that respond to the question “What time is it?” by saying “What time would you like it to be?”. Professional advisors have an opinion and a target: to develop the best possible solution for the customer.
- Consultative selling opens up perspectives.
Organisations using consultative selling do not primarily think about criteria such as price or interchangeable product features, but create solutions for their customers that have long-term value; for example, when looking at the total costs of ownership or the impulses the customer organisation receives from the supplier. This way, advisors create perspectives for their customers – and the chances are that customers will have not consciously perceived these advantages on their own.
Consultative selling can be learned.
For the various requirements of consultative selling, Miller Heiman Group offers training that supports salespeople to act as a trusted advisor in the sales process.
Professional Selling Skills
- Precisely analyse customer needs.
- Lead mutually beneficial sales conversations.
- Close sales conversations with confidence.
- Analyse each buying influence’s personal win.
- Develop a strategy for providing a satisfactory solution for the customer’s need.
- Create a holistic solution taking into account the competitive situation, the sales stage and differentiating strengths of the supplier.
- Professionally deal with several decision makers in the customer organisation.
- Joint venture sales method: align the customer concept with your own product/service.
LAMP (Large Account Management Process)
- Build and grow strategic accounts.
- Develop the consulting function and increase the value of your organisation with the customer.
There are further optional modules for reaching the popular “Miller Heiman Group – Certified Sales Professional” status.
- Create win-win negotiations.
- ICON method: For reaching the sales target, alternatives are developed that lead to a mutually beneficial win-win situation for both parties.
- Recognise and address key issues for higher-level decision makers.
- Specifically respond to the decision-making styles of the relevant decision makers.
The Miller Heiman Group Academy offers all training programmes as public seminars. Courses can also be conducted as in-house trainings. Which sales training is best suited to the individual situation of your company? We will be glad to advise you. Please contact us!