Why is Consultative Selling Better?
In a recent Government Software Sales Bootcamp, I put up a slide comparing the traditional selling system with the more modern consultative selling system:
Original Selling System
- Handle stalls and objections
Consultative Selling System
It was no secret that I’m in favor of the consultative selling system, but I asked the students to discuss why a consultative system may be more effective and efficient. They raised six points that I found to be notable.
The Value of Qualifying Leads
When you qualify leads, you’re making sure you’re talking to someone who actually wants to hear what you’re saying.
In the original selling system, you’re just throwing out your information and hoping that you’ll be able to answer their questions. Whereas, in the consultative system you work to identify their pain points, so that when you do present you can speak specifically to their needs, or potential objections.
Building on the idea of presentation quality, one student said she had been in presentations where buyers seemed to tune out if they didn’t hear the things they were looking for. Worse, after the presentation they didn’t say a word, simply walked out and you never heard from them again without knowing why.
She saw the value in a consultative system, as more of a conversation, in which buyers were more willing to ask questions and give you a chance to address objections.
I’ve talked before about how sales is a stressful situation, and certain conversations make salespeople freeze up, so I thought it was incredibly insightful when one of my students talked about dealing with objections during a presentation.
He made the point that if you start out with a presentation, you have no idea what kind of questions or objections you’ll get. In that situation, you have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Yet in a consultative system, by the time you present you should be aware of the potential objections, and can address them in your presentation, dramatically cutting down the things you have to handle on the fly.
The issue of time was raised in different ways, but I loved the point one woman made:
A seller’s time is just as valuable as a buyer’s time. You don’t want to waste time on leads that aren’t going anywhere.
One student mentioned that when you take a consultative selling approach, you can get to a no very quickly – and as a seller, you might even be the one to determine it’s not a fit. He made the point that it wasn’t a negative; you are saving yourself the time and effort to go through several sales cycles only to find out your solution won’t meet their needs.
One student mentioned consultative selling was a better fit for his personality. He said, “I don’t want to come across as that ‘salesy’ guy.”
While it sounds as if he’s simply trying to protect his ego, beliefs matter. If you believe yourself to be the stereotypical smarmy sales guy that no one wants to talk to, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In my experience, having discussions like this with salespeople are incredibly valuable, and necessary to achieve change. While a sales manager does need to coach their team along, they also need to encourage their salespeople to find their own reasons to buy into a selling system.
If you are looking for ways to bring your sales team to the next level, consider the Transformative Sales Leadership program.