The world of marketing and sales is changing. Modern consumers are more informed, increasingly skeptical, and less likely to be won over by tired and overused tactics. Perhaps even more importantly, they have more choice than ever before.
With that in mind, professionals hoping to succeed in the sector need to embrace different, smarter approaches in order to win over modern buyers. In the realm of sales, one approach which is becoming more prevalent in the current environment is consultative selling, a needs-based methodology that puts the customer first in order to align products and services to their needs.
If you’re considering a marketing and sales career, keep reading to learn more about this technique, and why it is so effective.
1. Consultative Selling Flips the Traditional Sales Approach
One of the reasons that traditional sales tactics have grown stale is that they often focus primarily on the seller’s products and services at the expense of the customer’s needs. In the past, marketing and sales professionals adopted something of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, highlighting the features and benefits of what they were selling first and then trying to fit them to the customer’s specific preferences.
Consultative selling flips this approach around. The sales process starts with the customer and the specific problem they need to solve, with the seller then providing solutions which are tailored to their situation. It’s a subtle shift in the buyer-seller dynamic but can make a tremendous difference in sales and customer satisfaction.
2. Consultative Sales Techniques Have Been Around for a Long Time
While consultative selling has become increasingly popular in recent years, students in marketing coordinator courses might be interested to know that the approach has actually been around since the 1970s.
Despite some early adoption, it fell out of vogue in the 1980s, as professionals at the time felt that it prolonged the sales approach and impeded their ability to finalize deals. However, advocates of the tactic argue that since it results in solutions that are more targeted towards what the customer wants, it can actually improve a seller’s chances of closing a sale.
3. The Key to Effective Consultative Selling Is Conversation
A key part of the consultative selling approach is making a customer feel as though they are being engaged in a conversation, rather than simply being pitched to. Sales professionals will ask questions and even do extensive research in order to fully understand the challenges a customer is facing and suggest ways they can help.
Many professionals will even frame their sales calls and meetings differently, describing them to customers as consultations or assessments. This emphasizes that the buyer and their goals will shape the conversation, rather than the seller’s intentions.
4. Trust Is Crucial in Consultative Selling
Because of its customer-focused nature, trust is also a crucial facet of consultative selling. Buyers want to feel as though a seller cares about their needs as much as they do, and won’t try to push a product or service on them which isn’t the right fit.
During the Professional Selling module of their marketing training at AOLCC, students will learn various techniques that will help them adopt a trusting approach effectively, and build lasting relationships with customers that can generate ongoing business for organizations.
5. Inbound Marketing Training Dovetails Perfectly with Consultative Selling
As students in marketing colleges in Alberta may know, sales and marketing are become more and more intertwined, with professionals in both areas having to work closely together to support each other’s objectives. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that the principles of consultative sales have a lot in common with inbound marketing, an approach which has become ubiquitous in the digital age.
Like consultative selling, inbound marketing focuses on providing information and solutions of real substance to potential buyers, rather than the more overtly promotional approach of traditional advertising. As a result, sales and marketing teams might find that adopting both approaches in tandem could be a match made in heaven.
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