Consultative selling requires sales professionals to focus on executing 7 key behaviors, skills, and techniques:
1. AVOID SELLER-CENTRIC BEHAVIORS
Nearly all sales professionals believe they’re customer-focused when few truly are. This statement is underscored by recent research from McKinsey that found most B2B companies averaged less than 50% on a customer-experience index rating. Sales professionals need to understand the person in the other chair. Doing so means forming an accurate diagnosis of their problem. This insight builds credibility and thereby fosters trust. By getting to the core of the buyer’s challenges, sales professionals can better position solutions that deliver real value for their buyers.
2. SHIFT TO A MINDSET OF AUTHENTICITY
Sales professionals must give before they get. Establishing a shared commitment to solving buyer’s business challenges early in the process fosters openness. This openness helps sales professionals more accurately diagnose their buyer’s business challenges, stated needs, and unknown needs. From this point, the seller can show the buyer how to effectively leverage the specific pieces of data necessary to reach a resolution.
3. LEAD THE CONVERSATION WITH A PLAN
A direct approach that starts the conversation with a clear direction helps sales professionals gain an early indication of the buyer’s expectations. If the intended path is divergent from the buyer’s goals for the conversation, the sales professional can adjust accordingly.
4. BUILD TO DECISIVE MOMENTUM
Sales professionals can guide the customer through the dialogue by eliciting feedback. This helps them get a sense of how well they understand the solutions and ideas discussed. This practice builds decisive momentum in which alignment with the buyer makes each successive decision easier than the last.
5. LEVERAGE INSIGHTS THROUGH QUESTIONING
Asking progressively smarter questions helps the buyer connect the dots with a line that traces to the best solution. Insightful questions get to the core issues fast and afford the sales professional the opportunity to float ideas. Inviting the buyer to think differently about solutions can be made less threatening when the concepts are presented as questions.
6. UNDERSTAND THE NEUROSCIENCE BEHIND HOW BUYERS BUY — OR DON’T
Buyers are human beings, and human beings have three fundamental needs for well-being that affect how they perceive what is happening, what they listen to, and how they ultimately make decisions. These needs are Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness. Strong questioning skills help sales professionals respect these needs by staying emotionally connected with the buyer, avoiding coming across as manipulative, and creating a safe environment to discuss challenging or sensitive issues.
7. WORK OFF OF FACTS, NOT ASSUMPTIONS
Anchoring is a form of cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on one piece of information. Sales professionals are especially prone to anchoring to their own assumptions rather than working diligently to seek out the facts through dialogue. Anchors can cause sales professionals to miss or dismiss potentially valuable information that could help them move the sale forward and position a more compelling and valuable solution.