- Questions for clarification: why do you say that? What exactly does this mean? How does this relate to our discussion? Etc.
- Questions that probe assumptions: what could we assume instead? You seem to be assuming…? What would happen if…? Etc.
- Questions that probe reasons and evidence: what do you think causes to happen…? Why? Why is that happening? What would be an example? Etc.
- Questions about viewpoints and perspectives: another way of looking at this is…, does this seem reasonable? What alternative ways of looking at this are there? What if you compared … and …? Etc.
- Questions that probe implications and consequences: what are you implying? Then what would happen? How does … affect …? Etc.
- Questions about the question: what was the point of this question? Am I making sense? Why not? Etc.
The modern buyer is so demanding that a special sales philosophy has been developed to respond to market’s expectations. Praised for its educational nuances, consultative selling has swiftly become the preferred sales methodology of high-growth startups and online businesses. Curious what got everyone so excited? Learn the 7 main principles of consultative selling to jump aboard this trend without any hiccups. What is consultative selling? Consultative selling is a sales approach that puts the focus on the buyer’s needs and experiences over the product a company is selling. Some salespeople go so far as to call it a sales philosophy for its unwavering commitment to developing a holistic understanding of the customer’s needs, providing value and finding a customized solution. While the traditional way of selling might often be disliked for its aggressive tone, consultative selling is all about asking the right questions and really drilling down into customers’ answers. Consultative selling is also often called solution-based selling because of its strong focus on providing a tailor-fit solution. When used in combination with content marketing, this solution-driven sales approach can make a huge impact on the whole lead generation performance. By constantly engaging customers in a dialogue, sales teams can better understand the target market’s way of thinking, the main pain points, and expectations. If sales and marketing teams manage to bring their efforts together and use this intel to create high punching lead generation and nurturing campaigns, the results can be particularly exciting.
Achieving a high Sales and Marketing alignment (SMarketing) is not the simplest of tasks, especially if both teams are using different tools. However, easy access to lead intelligence for Sales is crucial if they’re expected to adopt a consultative approach to selling. A robust CRM can unify Sales and Marketing teams by gathering all the essential information in one place, clearly defining each team’s responsibilities throughout the process and making the state of the pipeline more transparent and easier to understand. Let’s say your business uses a sales tool like Teamgate. Not only your teams get help at every stage of the sales process (we’re talking fully automated integrations, optimization hacks, and simplified processes), but they can better understand how and why leads convert and work side-by-side on future campaigns. Image Source: Picjumbo Consultative selling vs. Product-based selling Whereas consultative selling puts the emphasis on what the prospect wants and needs, trying to cater to those specific cases, product-based selling pays little to no attention to the customer’s unique requirements concentrating on showcasing the product’s best features. Strong communication is essential in consultative selling where active listening makes up the basis of the methodology, while product-based selling draws on traditional sales techniques, such as features over benefits, to try and convert leads. With the huge demand for personalized, tailored solutions and services, consultative selling is taking the central stage. To really benefit from this sales methodology, a company must follow these seven main principles. #1 Research Providing your customers with tailored solutions means you must know everything you can about their business and be able to anticipate any and all questions a customer may ask. If you’re gathering leads through inbound marketing campaigns, you will most likely have some helpful information like company size, email preferences or social media behaviors as well as know what content is trending among your customers and therefore, what issues they’re trying to solve. #2 Pre-frame Pre-framing is a sales technique that helps salespeople address buyer objections and concerns before they become a threat to a sale. Skilled salespeople use pre-framing to influence the outcome of a conversation or experience by letting buyers know exactly what is going to happen before it happens and what it is going to mean. An example of this technique could be something like, “I realize this is slightly above your budget, but if I extended a 10% discount, would you consider the offer?”. What it does is gives salespeople the upper hand in negotiations by letting them keep the control and eliminate potential doubts and hesitations well before they take root. #3 Ask more questions (including Socratic questions) Remember, the end goal of consultative selling is to offer the consumer a unique solution that addresses his pain points. Although it’s likely you’ll have some information about your leads before engaging in a conversation, it would be a huge mistake to assume you know everything that matters. Be prepared to ask a lot of open-ended questions (who, what, when, why, where, and how) that will allow you to dig to the bottom of their issues. Questions that start with words like Are, You, Do and Can lead to yes or no answers, which is not very helpful when you’re trying to build an understanding of who you’re dealing with. Image Source: Unsplash Socratic questions are also rather popular among salespeople dabbling with this sales approach. Socratic questions refer to five different types of questions developed by the great philosopher himself: