The time when pitching your product's best and most attractive features has officially passed. Sales and FSI leaders have discovered the benefits of the client-centric selling, which proved to be a much more effective way for businesses to expend and retain their pool of clients.
Consultative selling is centered around building long-term relationships with clients, active listening, asking the right questions, and tailoring your products and services to their needs.
Practicing consultative selling can help you develop a deeper understanding of your client and find new opportunities based on your conversations. Additionally, you can spot upselling and cross-selling options much earlier and deliver first-class assistance.
What is Consultative Selling?
Consultative selling suggests that the seller (adviser, consultant, relationship manager, sales representative) should always prioritize the client, their wishes, and concerns. This means that the client always comes first, and the entire goal of selling is to close problems/pains for the buyer, instead of just pushing the product to as many buyers as possible.
Consultative selling helps build long-lasting relationships with clients, who are more likely to stay loyal longer and recommend your services to other people.
Evidently, this approach pays out long-term, and by applying simple rules of consultative selling, you basically invest in your future, and in the future of your company.
The consultative approach has a couple of core principles, which help sellers and advisors to have much more effective interactions with clients.
Consultative Selling Best Practices
Rule #1: Active Listening
Instead of jumping on a call (or an in-person meeting) and launching into a long, well-versed ballad about your product’s benefits and perks, and thus spending 95% of the meeting talking on your own, consultative approach preaches active listening.
Active listening is all about giving your client or prospect a platform to express their opinions, explain what pains they have, and what their needs and wants are. Based on this information, you can later handpick a product that closes all of the pain statements and serves as a perfect solution for your client or prospect.
According to active listening rules, you should be able not only to listen to your client and give them a chance to "hijack" the conversation, but also to hear crucial bits that will help you close the deal faster.
Rule #2: Asking Questions
In a consultative selling approach, asking educated questions is vital. This way you can pull on all the right threads while extracting valuable information from the client.
Consultative selling cannot be strictly scripted. The questions usually branch out from the conversation itself and the concerns that your client or prospect raises.
However, mastering the art of active listening and asking questions can be quite tricky and requires lots of practice. But the sooner you start giving your client a chance to seek your expert opinion instead of just reciting your product or service features, the sooner you will gain the much-needed authority that will go a long way.
Rule #3: Pushback
Now, being an expert means that you don’t always agree with your client’s arguments and conclusions. By building up your expert status, you gather the knowledge that differentiates you from other consultants and this makes you the thought leader that has all the expertise.
This means that whenever your client makes an assumption about your product or service, and you know that this particular product will not play well for them, your first instinct should be to provide them with sufficient arguments and evidence to persuade them to choose another direction. This also means that instead of agreeing with them and closing the much-awaited deal faster, you should focus on the real solution that will bring profit to your client.
Rule #4: Objection handling
One of the most dreaded notions in any business that has anything to do with working with clients is “objection handling.” There exist one too many objection-handling guides that help you achieve perfection and brush off any objection you meet on your way with ease. However, the main goal of learning this much-needed technique is to maintain the position of an expert and a thought leader.
Without knowing how to address objections correctly, you won’t be able to prove that you’re knowledgeable enough to guide the client, thus, the deal will be lost.
Learn how to handle the most common objections in your niche by talking with business experts, shadowing your more experienced colleagues, and just learning as many facts as possible about your ideal customer profile, their wants, and needs. Gather a sizeable knowledge base and be ready to share it with your client whenever it’s needed, and your position as the industry expert will be secured.
Product Selling vs Consultative Selling
The product-selling approach puts your company’s merchandise or services in the center of the equation. Whereas, as we have established before, consultative selling revolves around the client and building long-lasting relationships with them.
There are certain criteria that differentiate these two approaches. So let’s break them down:
Consultative selling technique
Focuses on the features
Focuses on the value
In banking and insurance industries, the consultative selling approach has been used for quite a long time now. However, some organizations still focus primarily on their packages and premium products, imposing them on all clients that fit set criteria, without trying to understand the client’s needs first.
Consultative selling techniques can help client advisors and relationship managers build deeper connections with their clients much faster and gain their trust. This can lead to increased trust, satisfaction, loyalty, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth referrals, which are all crucial for the long-term success of any financial advisor. Not mention all the upselling and cross-seling opportunities. For example, if an advisor discovers that a client has recently purchased a car, and is in need for car insurance, they may be able to offer a solution that meets that need, and also recommend other products or services that could be of value to the client.
Also the approach helps to avoid common mistakes like product pushing and overselling, and it makes the client feel heard and understood which is very important in financial industry where trust is everything.
The shift from product-selling to consultative selling has become more and more evident for many businesses. However, for many advisors and sales reps, transitioning from a scripted outreach to a conversational type of selling hasn’t been easy.
To make your learning curve less steep, follow the consultative selling approach best practices and remember to always put the client’s interests first.