How to Market Products with Consultative Selling

By Jeanette McMurtry

Consultative selling is just what is says it is: consulting versus selling. Consumers, clients — everyone — prefer to be informed and involved rather than sold anything. Consultative selling involves providing information and insights that help your customers achieve their goals for budget, performance, and so much more.

Beyond providing information that helps with the decision process in an objective manner, consultative selling includes the following actions:

  1. Consult first, build trust second, and sell third.
  2. Start a relationship by listening to your customers’ needs, identifying their personal values associated with your category, and building rapport as someone who’s like them and understands them.
  3. Offer suggestions and solutions that meet their goals, not your sales quota.
  4. Address their fears.

    Find ways to identify their greatest fears so you can present your promise, messages, and offers as a solution to overcome these challenges.

  5. Ask thought‐provoking questions that inspire your prospects to think about their problems and solutions from new angles.

When you follow these steps, you take price out of the equation and build value that your competitors can’t match.

Here are additional tips for consultative selling.

  • Gather information about your customers and prospects to identify the following:
    • Specific issues and needs per the level they’re at in their jobs and the influences of the current market environment
    • What competitors are likely calling on them so you can address their messaging and promises and build your case
  • Anticipate the questions your customers and prospects are likely to ask of you, and be prepared to answer with confidence, validation, and facts.
  • Ask what criterion drives your customers’ decision for products and partners they choose. Don’t assume that you already know this answer.

Consultative selling also goes far beyond the first closing. It’s about nurturing the account for an entire lifetime and adding new levels of value along the way. Always do the following to keep accounts and lower attrition and defection rates:

  • Follow through after the sale to ensure that all expectations were met.
  • Do periodic reviews to help identify issues that can be improved and new opportunities.
  • Continue to share insights to help them with all aspects of the job.

If you lose a sale to a competitor, call that lead after a few months to see how happy he is with his choice. If he isn’t happy, you just opened the door for a second chance with fewer competitors to beat this time around.