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What is Consultative Selling? An Overview.

A long and important part of my career I spent with Gartner. In the information technology sector Gartner is recognized as one of the best performing sales organizations in the world. One of many contributors to this immense success is the adoption of a sales approach. In the B2B services space this is consultative selling for which many methodologies exist. But what is consultative selling?




Consultative selling is an approach that focuses on understanding the needs and challenges of your customers and providing solutions that add value. Here are some of the best methods for consultative selling and selling value:

  1. Listen actively: One of the most critical components of consultative selling is active listening. Take the time to understand your customers' needs, challenges, and goals. Ask open-ended questions and let them share their experiences and concerns. This will help you tailor your solutions to their specific needs and demonstrate your value.

  2. Build relationships: Consultative selling is not a one-time transaction. It is about building long-term relationships with your customers. Invest time and effort in building trust, rapport, and credibility with your customers. This will help you become a trusted advisor and partner, rather than just a vendor.

  3. Focus on solutions, not products: Instead of simply selling products, focus on providing solutions that add value. Work with your customers to identify their pain points and offer solutions that solve their problems. This may require a more customized approach that takes into account the unique needs of each customer.

  4. Demonstrate expertise: As a consultative seller, you need to demonstrate expertise and credibility in your field. Share your knowledge and experience with your customers and provide insights and recommendations that go beyond what they could find on their own.

  5. Use data and analytics: Use data and analytics to support your recommendations and demonstrate the value of your solutions. Show your customers how your solutions can help them achieve their goals and improve their bottom line.

  6. Follow up and follow through: Once you have made a sale, it is essential to follow up and follow through to ensure customer satisfaction. This includes providing support, addressing any issues or concerns, and continuing to provide value over the long term.

Overall, consultative selling is about providing solutions that add value to your customers' businesses. By listening actively, building relationships, focusing on solutions, demonstrating expertise, using data and analytics, and following up and following through, you can become a trusted advisor and partner to your customers and achieve long-term success.


Methodologies


There are many consultative selling methods in the market today, but here are five of the most effective and popular methods:

  1. Challenger Sale: This method is based on the premise that salespeople should challenge customers to think differently about their business and offer new insights and solutions that they may not have considered before. It involves taking a strategic approach to sales, building a deep understanding of the customer's business, and offering a customized solution.

  2. Solution Selling: This method is focused on identifying customer pain points and providing solutions that address those specific problems. It involves a consultative approach, where the salesperson acts as a trusted advisor, guiding the customer through the buying process and offering personalized solutions that add value.

  3. SPIN Selling: This method focuses on asking effective questions to uncover the customer's needs, pain points, and motivations. It involves a consultative approach, where the salesperson listens actively and tailors their solutions to the customer's specific needs.

  4. Customer-Centric Selling: This method is focused on understanding the customer's business and priorities and aligning the sales approach to those needs. It involves building relationships with customers, acting as a partner rather than a vendor, and providing customized solutions that add value.

  5. SNAP Selling: This method is based on the acronym SNAP, which stands for Simple, iNvaluable, Aligned, and Priority. It involves simplifying the sales process, providing valuable solutions that align with the customer's priorities, and focusing on building strong relationships with customers.

Interestingly, Gartner does not use one of these consultative selling methodologies.

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