Consultative Selling — Say Goodbye to Pushy Sales Tactics & Drive Revenue
Consultative selling prioritizes customer needs, building long-term relationships, and increasing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. It's not just about short-term profit, but about understanding customer pain points and offering tailored solutions. By focusing on the customer, consultative selling can increase customer lifetime value (CLV) and lead to long-term business success.
As a rule, profit is the main objective of any business, and sales teams play a crucial role in achieving this goal. Their job is to close deals and generate revenue, but is it as simple as just pushing clients to close the deal, regardless of their needs and concerns? Not quite.
While driving revenue is important, it's not the only factor that contributes to a business's success. Transactional selling might be a good strategy to increase short-term profits. But customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty are critical components that can ultimately lead to higher revenue and success in the long run. This is where consultative selling comes in.
What Is Consultative Selling?
Consultative selling is a sales technique or approach that prioritizes the customer's needs. As opposed to product-focused selling, it seeks to build authentic, long-term relationships. Sales reps take on the role of consultants or advisors, working with the customer to understand their specific situation and offer tailored solutions.
By focusing on the target buyers' needs and building a relationship of trust and respect, consultative selling can lead to higher customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. This, in turn, can lead to increased revenue and long-term success for the business, because you effectively increase the customer lifetime value (CLV).
To understand this better, let's look at a successful consultative selling example.
What Is an Example of a Consultative Sales Process?
Imagine a sales rep at a furniture store trying to sell a couch to a customer. They could push the most expensive couch, use high-pressure tactics, and try to close the deal as quickly as possible. The unhappy customer still might make the purchase, but they would likely leave feeling uneasy and dissatisfied.
Alternatively, a consultative selling approach could be used. After asking the customer about their needs, preferences, and budget, the seller could suggest a few options that fit their requirements. If the customer is not ready to buy, they could follow up with a friendly reminder or provide additional information on the products of interest. In this way, the sales rep becomes a trusted advisor, helping the buyer make the best decision based on their needs.
If the customer feels that the sales representative is genuinely interested in helping them, they are more likely to come back to the store and make additional purchases in the future. This is because consultative selling helps to establish a relationship of trust and respect, and customers are more likely to return to businesses where they feel valued and understood.
Top Benefits of a Consultative Sales Approach
Imagine you are a carpenter and you've just received an order for a beautiful wooden bench. You could take the easy route and use short nails to put the bench together quickly, but it wouldn't be very sturdy and wouldn't last very long. Alternatively, you could use longer, more expensive nails that require more time and effort to hammer in, making the bench much stronger and more durable.
In this scenario, you have to weigh the pros and cons of both options. While the short nails may save you time and money in the short term, they will ultimately result in an inferior product that won't satisfy your customer's needs. The longer nails, on the other hand, may be more costly and time-consuming upfront, but will ultimately result in a stronger, more reliable product that will keep your customers happy and coming back for more.
The same goes for consultative selling. While pushing a sale and using high-pressure tactics may result in a quick profit, taking the time to understand your customer's needs and offering tailored solutions will ultimately lead to stronger relationships, higher customer satisfaction, and long-term success.
1. Better understanding of customer needs & preferences
As a sales professional, it's not enough to simply pitch a product or service to a potential customer. You need to understand their needs and preferences, and then offer a tailored solution that addresses those needs.
A consultative sales approach can help you do this more effectively by engaging in a conversation with the customer and asking questions that help you identify their specific pain points. This leads to a better understanding of their needs and preferences, which can then be used to create a more customized offer.
What's more, sales professionals can gather feedback from sales conversations and uncover pain points. Next, they can pass on what they learned to the product manager. This way the product team will know exactly where users expect improvements and upgrade the product to fit the customer's challenges and needs better.
This is something we understand and go by at CallPage. Our sales and customer success teams work closely together to gather user feedback and use it to improve our product. By listening to our clients and understanding their needs, we can continue to develop a solution that meets their specific requirements.
2. Improved customer retention — the value of returning customers
When customers feel their needs are being heard and addressed, they are more likely to stay with a company and make repeat purchases. You can make this happen by offering a tailored solution or adjusting your sales pitch to an individual prospect's pain point.
Why is this important? Because acquiring new customers is expensive due to the various costs associated with marketing, advertising, and sales efforts. All of these activities require investment in terms of time, effort, and resources.
What's more, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by up to 95%. At least that's what we found out reading an article by Forbes. So making customers come back to your brand or shop is simply profitable. A consultative selling approach can help with this by building strong relationships with customers based on trust and understanding.
3. Customer loyalty — building emotional attachments
According to ThinkImpact, roughly 8% of a company's most loyal customers account for around 50% of its total revenue. That's a significant amount of revenue, which emphasizes the importance of building emotional attachments with your customers.
By using a consultative approach, you're showing your clientele that you're invested in their success and that you're genuinely interested in helping them find the best solution. When they feel that your sales success equals their success, they're more likely to return to your business time and time again, even when there are other options available.
4. Customer satisfaction — the power of positive feedback
As you can imagine, consultative sales improve customer satisfaction by focusing on the customer's needs and providing a product or service that addresses those needs.
Customer satisfaction is an important metric for any business. Positive feedback from satisfied buyers can lead to additional business through word-of-mouth referrals, online reviews, and social media mentions. These valuable marketing tools can help grow your business and attract new customers.
5. Competitive advantage — standing out in a crowded market
In today's crowded market, standing out from the competition is essential. By adopting consultative selling, you differentiate yourself from other salespeople who may be using more traditional sales techniques. This approach demonstrates your expertise and your willingness to listen to your customers and understand their unique needs.
Buyers are more likely to choose a sales professional who takes the time to understand their requirements and offers tailored solutions over someone who just pitches their product or service. Additionally, a consultative sales approach positions you as a trusted advisor, which can be a valuable competitive advantage.
The Six Steps of a Consultative Selling Process
1. Preparation & research
Before engaging in an initial conversation with a customer, the salesperson should do their research to understand the customer's business, industry, and pain points. This is the first step of the consultative sales process.
Conducting in-depth research helps understand the potential buyer's needs and challenges, so the sales professional can tailor their approach to the customer's specific situation. This could involve researching the customer's website, social media presence, industry reports, and news articles.
2. Discovery phase
Once the consultative seller has a good understanding of the customer's situation, they can begin the discovery phase. This involves talking to the target audience and asking open-ended questions to the customer to gain a deeper understanding of their needs and challenges.
Active listening paired with genuine interest is critical during this phase, as the consultative seller needs to gather as much useful information as possible to develop a tailored solution.
3. Analyzing information & crafting a solution
With the information gathered during the research & discovery phases, sales professionals can analyze the customer's needs and develop a customer offer, product, or service.
This could involve identifying the customer or prospect's pain points, and developing a plan to address them, outlining the benefits of the proposed solution, and explaining how it will meet the customer's specific needs.
4. Presenting the proposed solutions to customers
The next step is presenting the proposed solution to the customer. This involves demonstrating how the product or service will address their pain points and meet their needs. It's essential to present the solution in a way that resonates with the customer and shows them the value of the offering.
During this phase, consultative sellers should focus on building a bond with the customer and positioning themselves as trusted advisors. By doing so, they can increase the chances of the customer accepting the proposed solution.
5. Gathering feedback and making adjustments
Once the salesperson has presented their proposed solution, they should ask questions to ensure that the customer fully understands the solution and its benefits. Once again, active listening is extremely important in the consultative selling approach.
Inevitably, some customers will have objections or concerns about the proposed solution. It's the salesperson's job to address them and provide reassurance that the solution will work for them. They can do this by making adjustments to the proposed solution based on the feedback.
Or if the adjustments wouldn't be beneficial, sales leaders should provide evidence or data to back up their viewpoint and address the customer's concerns this way.
6. Closing the deal and follow-ups
The final step of the consultative selling process is to close the deal — agreeing on terms and signing a contract or making a purchase.
During this phase, the consultative seller should reinforce the value of the solution and reassure the customer that they've made the right decision. They can do this by highlighting the benefits of the solution and reiterating how it will help the customer solve their pain points.
After the deal has closed, the salesperson should follow up with the customer to ensure that they're satisfied with the solution and to address any concerns that may have arisen. They should also maintain regular communication to build a long-term relationship with the customer and potentially identify additional sales opportunities in the future.
Helpful Tools For Sales Professionals
Okay, so now you know why a consultative approach is a sales strategy worth trying. Remember how we compared the consultative sales process to making a bench with long, sturdy nails? Now you've got nails, but if you don't use a good hammer, you're going to struggle to make them work. Consultative selling is a great sales approach, but without the right tools, your sales team might not be able to execute it effectively.
Just like a hammer helps you drive nails into wood with precision and ease, tools like CallPage, HubSpot CRM, Gong, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator help your sales team engage with customers in a way that's consultative, efficient, and effective. These tools help you better understand your customers, identify their needs, and build long-term relationships with them — which, in turn, leads to higher customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.
Lead capture & meeting scheduling — CallPage
CallPage is a lead capture tool that can be incredibly beneficial for businesses with a consultative selling process. It's a widget that allows website visitors to request an immediate callback from a sales representative, which can help businesses engage with potential customers in real time and provide personalized solutions based on their needs. CallPage helps increase the number of leads and improve conversion rates.
One unique feature of CallPage is its ability to integrate with popular CRM systems, such as HubSpot and Salesforce. This allows businesses to seamlessly transfer customer data from CallPage to their CRM, which can help them better understand their customers and provide more personalized solutions.
Another unique feature of CallPage is its ability to track phone calls and provide detailed analytics on call duration, location, and other key metrics. This information can be used to optimize sales strategies and improve overall customer engagement.
Finally, CallPage has a brand new meeting scheduler. This tool allows businesses to set up meetings with potential customers directly through the CallPage widget without the need for additional scheduling software or even leaving the page the user's currently on. This can help streamline the sales process and provide a more convenient experience for the customer.
In summary, CallPage is a powerful tool that can help businesses using a consultative sales approach. Capture more leads, improve conversion rates, and provide more personalized solutions to their customers. Its integration with CRM systems, detailed call tracking, and analytics make it a valuable addition to any sales team's toolkit.
Hubspot — all-round CRM
HubSpot is a popular all-in-one customer relationship management (CRM) software that helps businesses manage their sales, marketing, and customer service activities in one centralized platform. HubSpot's CRM provides a wide range of features that can help sales professionals using a consultative selling approach, such as lead tracking, email tracking, sales analytics, and more.
One of the key benefits of HubSpot CRM is its easy-to-use interface and customizable dashboard. Sales professionals can quickly and easily access the information they need to engage with customers in consultative selling, such as customer contact information, deal status, and communication history.
Gong — conversation analytics
Gong is a platform that can help consultative sellers analyze and improve their conversations with prospects and clients. Gong uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze sales calls and meetings, providing insights into customer behavior, sales rep performance, and more.
One of the key benefits of Gong is its ability to capture and transcribe recorded sales calls and meetings, allowing sales professionals to review and analyze them later. This can help identify areas for improvement and provide coaching to sales reps.
Another key benefit of Gong is its AI-powered analysis of sales conversations. Gong uses natural language processing (NLP) to identify key topics, questions, objections, and other important elements of a sales conversation. This information can be used to improve consultative selling skills.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
We all know LinkedIn. Its popularity has grown tremendously over the years, and it's become an important meeting place for professionals in all industries. LinkedIn's Sales Navigator is a natural extension of the platform, providing sales professionals with valuable insights and tools to connect with prospects and build meaningful relationships.
With Sales Navigator, sales professionals can leverage LinkedIn's vast network to find new leads, engage with decision-makers, and ultimately close more deals. If you're looking to harness the power of consultative selling, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a valuable tool to have in your toolkit.
Improving sales performance quickly and effectively is a critical goal for businesses seeking growth and success. Nurturing and training the sales reps, creating a structured sales department, and fostering effective communication channels are vital for achieving sales goals. Additionally, leveraging technology tools like CRM systems, automation, and analytics can optimize sales processes and drive efficiency.
However, it is the collective effort, motivation, and expertise of the team that ultimately determines the success of sales performance. By combining the power of data-driven decision-making with a well-trained and motivated sales force, businesses can significantly improve their sales performance and pave the way for long-term growth and success.
Don't risk losing customers due to delayed response times. With CallPage, you can provide excellent online customer service by valuing your customers' time and addressing their needs promptly. Try the CallPage trial version for free!
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