Success in the B2B segment revolves around building lasting relationships with customers. Without these relationships, you run the risk of losing your customers to the competition.
It may surprise you to know that,
“…only 29% of B2B customers are fully engaged — that is, emotionally and psychologically attached to the companies they do business with. The other 71% are ready and willing to take their business elsewhere.”
This study by Gallup clearly states that this statistic is not specific to any industry and any business can fall prey to customer churn.
The reason we are speaking of customer churn, specifically, is that it is a challenge that many Growing Businesses face today.
While the reasons for churn can be many, a common reason is a disconnect between prospects and salespersons that traditional sales techniques deliver.
It is unfortunate that sales professionals find themselves at odds as traditional product-driven sales has not been as effective in recent times.
An increasingly challenging environment is putting intense pressure on them to reach sales numbers, which in turn is forcing them to coerce their customers into buying.
Such strong-arm tactics just drive away prospects and create a chasm of deep mistrust between them, which is all but impossible to overturn.
So, what is the alternative to product-driven sales?
What is Consultative Selling?
Consultative Selling shines a light on communicating business value to prospects with an intention to develop trust. The emphasis, then, is on relationship building and eventually selling them your products or services.
It is an approach where open dialogues with customers take priority; to identify their pain-points and to examine if a product or service is the right fit for that prospect’s unique business needs.
Such a customer-centric hyper-focused approach can help sales teams position their offerings in tune with customer challenges in a compelling manner.
Consultative Selling fits perfectly with changing consumer behavior and expectations in the Age of Disruption.
A Framework for Consultative Selling
So how can sales teams integrate Consultative Selling into their sales processes?
These three factors can help in defining a concise framework for Consultative Sales.
- Don’t sell the product; focus on communicating value instead
- Focus on asking the right questions, driven by customer insights
- Lead the conversation, but practice active listening with your customers
Let’s take a deep dive to understand these in detail.
1. Don’t Sell the Product; Focus on Communicating Value Instead
Unfortunately, the term Consultative Selling gets thrown around in the market like confetti. To bring clarity to this sales approach, it makes sense that we compare it with traditional product-based sales to understand the differences between the two.
By comparing product-based sales with Consultative Sales, it becomes clear why this sales approach takes precedence.
Consultative Selling is not only an effective approach to sales but is also an ethical way to engage prospects and improve the chances of sales success.
2. Focus on Asking the Right Questions, Driven by Customer Insights
To become adept at understanding business challenges from a customer’s point of view, we need to bring in the importance of sales probing to fill in the blanks.
The Consultative Selling model focuses on seeking information from prospects to understand their challenges and to offer tailor-made and comprehensive solutions.
By adopting Consultative Selling, sales processes will, over a period of time, start to arrive at solid conclusions.
What this also means is sales teams will arrive at conclusions based on experience and customer data from the Sales CRM system that they utilize.
They identify challenges and narrow down on customer personas to support effective decision-making. These insights will allow them to improve engagement and conversion rates.
But what do sales teams need to do to obtain accurate customer insights?
They need to ask the right questions. For example:
Customer insights arm sales teams with talking points that are mostly unknown to customers themselves, engaging customers proactively to positively improve their chances of sales success.
3. Lead the Conversation, but Practice Active Listening With Your Customers
It is a fact that salespersons have the habit of talking without listening to their prospects. Consultative Selling takes an inverted approach.
Conversations take a U-turn from traditional sales where salespersons guide conversations to stay on topic, yet encourage prospects to share more information about their challenges.
This makes the customer understand that the person on the other end is there not just to make a sale but to engage with them and explore if their products fit in with the prospect’s business needs.
By leading the conversation, salespersons can gently probe their way to identify customer expectations and perceptions.
Furthermore, it is common for salespersons to experience silence during sales calls. Ordinarily, they would just go on-and-on about the product to fill the void. The consultative selling model encourages the opposite.
For example, a salesperson makes an offer and waits for the customer to think and reply with an answer. Sometimes customers fill the quiet by talking themselves into a deal.
Lastly, Consultative Selling suggests that sales teams should not shy away from any type of feedback from prospects. Any feedback, comment, or suggestion, is invaluable to provide better customer engagement even if the feedback is not constructive.
Consultative Selling Best Practices
“Practice, practice, practice.”
This takeaway is true to any art and without a doubt, Consultative Sales is one.
The simple act of guiding prospects by listening to their concerns makes for better selling skills. It is this skill that salespersons need to weave into their sales conversations to experience a difference.
Here’s are a few pro sales tips from Kylas team to help you get started–
After the first set of questions are dealt with, weave qualifiers into your conversations.
Recognize that all these points are follow-ups to what the customer is talking about.
As with any technique or art form, holding a conversation is a skill that requires a deft touch. With practice, consultative selling skills can become second-nature and instinctive.
However, it is easy for the salesperson to dive back into product-based sales mode, which makes Consultative Selling a challenging task at the beginning. Keep practising with colleagues and sales managers to help strengthen these skills.
One thing is certain. Growing Businesses and their sales teams, in the Age of Information, must be prepared to deliver quality experiences or face the consequences of customer churn.
It is easy for sales teams to slip back into product-based selling especially when numbers are down because of volatile market conditions.
Remember, buyers today want you and your sales team to be in tune with their challenges and offer compelling solutions without forcing your product or service on them.
If your focus is on selling first, you may achieve your goals now but, in the future, you will have to continue to work as hard to achieve the same results.
With Consultative Sales, you create an environment of trust which, especially in the long-run, requires less effort to conclude in continuous sales success.
Kylas Growth Engine is an ecosystem of technology products, with a Sales CRM at its core, and expertise to help Growing Businesses, like yours, scale to new heights.