I am always amused to hear people say that great sales people are born that way, as in with a natural talent to sell, or as if there’s a specific “sales genius” gene. On the surface, that may seem to be true for an easily distinguishable group within the sales world. Outgoing, lively, gregarious or outspoken sales people are bountiful. But these personality traits alone do NOT make a successful sales professional. Especially in a consultative sales environment structure, determination and a well-planned AND applied approach is invaluable and will lead to long-term success. As I believe Charlie Chaplin was once quoted saying, success is 10% talent, and 90% hard work. That also holds true when it comes to a consultative sales process.
Do you know Yourself, Your Services & Your Prospects?
A big part of being successful in sales has to do with developing a customer-centric sales process and being diligent. Not pushy, not aggressive, but consistent and strategic. You will need to identify exactly what you are selling and what value it brings to your prospects.
Good and successful consultative sales people take time to fully understand what truly differentiates their service from all the other similar products or services of their competitors. They do their research. Successful sales professionals also make sure they know their own strengths and opportunities for improvement and growth.
Once you have established what you are selling, and how the features and benefits can be of value, then you can begin to do your research to find out who your best audience would be. In other words, to establish who are your “ideal prospects.”
Do you want to be “sold to”?
Gregarious, overenthusiastic sales people tend to be self promoting and very often they care more about themselves and their product/service than they care about the prospect. This and many other things can lead to sales people having the reputation of being, well sales people. When was the last time that you wanted to be sold to? Nobody wants to be sold to. That’s a fact.
Can I train to be a Great Salesperson?
Unequivocally, yes! The advantage of consultative selling is that you don’t have to be a “born” seller. In fact you actually need to learn and apply the principles and competencies of consultative selling to be successful.
A successful sales process is structured and supports the team in their effort to target the right companies and the appropriate decision maker within those organizations. Consultative sales professionals build their business with the goal to create a firm, long lasting and sustainable relationship with their clients. Using a consultative sales model and approach will not only provide the sales people with a framework to be client-focused, it will result in strategically developing clients with bigger budgets and larger deals.
You can approach learning the core consultative selling skills and acquiring the comprehensive knowledge in order to build your business based on consultative selling competencies from two avenues.
Trial and Error or Training?
One, by process of trial and error, picking up bits of knowledge, and piecing together your new skills laboriously over a lengthy period of time. Or, two – by participating in a comprehensive Consultative Sales Training Program. In the end, it’s really about behavioral change and application.
Application is key
What do I need to learn and how do I need to apply these skills in order to be a Top-Seller? That is a process that takes time. Time to really understand AND practice applying in real-life situations. You really can’t learn to play the piano by reading a book about the techniques of playing the piano. You need structured practice – and as we all know, practice makes perfect – if planned and well-executed.
To give you an overview of the core consultative sales competencies have a look at our Consultative Sales Model below.
Research is the first key step to becoming a super-seller. Once you are in a position to guide your prospect, to become their consultant rather than to sell to them, they will not only appreciate it, they will also recognize the value you bring to the table without caring whether you have a suave personality or not. Honestly, while I really like working with people who are funny and witty, I prefer honesty, integrity and well informed sales people over somebody who flatters me. I think most people feel the same way.
Why does a consultative sales process work?
Because people really don’t want to feel that they are sold to. Whenever I get a phone call from a provider (and trust me, being a business owner I get them all the time) I focus on those areas:
- Is the sales person respectful and asks me if it’s a good time to call
- Does the sales person understand my business
- Do they have something to offer that fits my business needs
If one or more of those areas are ignored, I will make an excuse and get off the phone, but not before telling them that I am really not interested in receiving future phone calls.
A consultative sales process is designed to develop an ideal client profile for your unique service offering, tailoring the outreach to be specific, targeted and focused.
How is a consultative sales process different?
You are targeting specific industries and companies rather than just picking up the phone and calling. There are still so many companies out there who have their sales people “dial for dollars”. It’s not only ineffective, but also highly disrespectful. People want to feel special, whether they are a manager, a CEO or an assistant. Don’t forget, they are humans and they act and react in a human way. If your prospect knows that you have chosen him/her because you have done your research, they will appreciate it. It will build rapport and trust.
How will my business benefit?
Once you have developed a sustainable consultative sales process (which needs to be embraced by your entire company, top down) you can focus on developing marketing material, events and building a healthy client base. If you are a sales person, you will be more effective if you are allowed to sell in a consultative sales environment and that equals more commission. If you are a sales manager, your team will be happy because they have a proven, transparent method that they can follow. As a result, revenue will increase and most importantly, your prospects will get a good impression and they will refer your company to other people. That’s really when you know that things are working.
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