The Consultative Approach to Sales

In today’s modern society where the economic downturn has inflicted doubts into the minds of every businessman and woman, sales and sales techniques have never been more essential to sustain a company’s life span in the corporate market.

One of the most talked about sales approaches of the 21st century is that of the consultative approach, or solution selling, a method developed by businessman, Frank Watt at Wang Laboratories when he was a leading sales consultants. At the time, Electronic Magazine deemed his idea “an unmistakable trend in the distribution of systems- related products.”

With the consultative approach, the sales person acts as a mentor, by gathering information from the prospect, weighing up the options that are available and returning with a solution.

This type of dealing is most commonly achieved through an amicable approach and restricts the ideals of “the hard sell,” thus creating a friendly relationship between both client and sales agent. Savvy business owners will often contract Sales Lead Generation companies to complete the first stage of this process by identifying the key prospects through a series of questioning and pro-active listening.

The idea behind this concept is that, by the end of the sales pitch, the prospect is sure that the product meets their specific requirements.

One of the key areas in successful consultative selling is to understand the client’s needs and wants, and the problems that they currently face. This research or Lead Generation probing is generally achieved by asking open questions specifically in relation to the area a company specializes in e.g. I.T.

Along with the open questions it can often help to look up information that is publicly available about the targeted company, on the net or within the mass media such as press releases or newspaper articles.

Before getting to the sales pitch, the sales person needs to open the conversation with the prospect in a friendly manner. Building trust is a fundamental element from the start of the sales process, and needs to be nurtured throughout and after the deal has been closed. It is the rapport that one builds with the client and the way it is done that helps gain their trust.

Along with mannerisms, product knowledge is another vital element to the success of the sale. A sales person should know the specialized market and product inside and out. This means demonstrating a vast amount of information on the product, knowing competitors’ products and the target audience. The salesman needs to demonstrate his expertise and knowledge.

During a consultative sales approach, the salesman focuses on the prospect’s needs during the conversation and endeavours to use his professional expertise to help provide a product / service that will help rectify or alleviate the pains. With this in mind, the consultative approach guarantees customer satisfaction and helps generate new, and or repeat profitable business. In complex selling situation, where decision-making is both a rational and emotional process, building a strong rapport through consultative selling will help make the difference.

The consultative technique was originally used by the legal and insurance professionals, but the method is now spreading into other sectors, especially the technology industry.