Consultative Sales Rep, Really?
The idea of being a consultative sales rep is not new. In fact, you’ve probably read a lot about how to be more consultative with clients and prospects. Maybe you’ve even attended a solution selling training or business sales training program or two that purported to teach you how to be more consultative. But when it comes right down to it, have you really earned the term in practice?

First, the Payoffs
There are no shortcuts to building lasting relationships and winning more business.  It takes a consultative approach that combines proven sales skills, mindsets, and insights that bring helpful perspectives to buyers.  Done right, consultative selling adds value during the sales process, opens doors to additional conversations and opportunities early in the sales cycle, and helps your clients to succeed in a way that makes sense for their unique situation. 

From the buyer’s point of view, the vast majority describe the consultative salespeople they ultimately do business with as “trusted advisors.” 

Now the Basics
Let’s go back to the beginning so that you have a list of the basics of consultative selling against which to evaluate the way you really sell.

  1. Adopt the Right Mindset
    The number one mindset for a better sales call is to focus more on adding value and helping than on selling. It is about your client and your client’s client, not about you and your stuff. As a consultative seller, you don’t push product, take over the sales process, or aggressively create sales friction to meet your targets.

    Rather, consultative sellers thoroughly prepare for each sales call, invest the time to understand what matters most in the customer’s unique situation, identify their solution to customer priorities, and articulate a clear and compelling solution that will truly help their customer and their organization succeed.

    Top sellers are buyer-centric.

  2. Limit the Small Talk
    The “traditional” salesperson spent much of their initial sales time in trying to establish a personal relationship and prove how well they understood the features of their product or service. Of course, you need to be friendly and courteous and know your stuff. But the relationship you seek is not superficial; instead, it is one that earns trust over time by providing value.

    Respect your prospect’s time not with small talk but by trying to determine early on if you can provide a solution for their specific needs.  Earn their trust by putting their best interests first and by helping them to succeed.

    Top consultative sellers focus on adding business value first.

  3. Qualify the Opportunity
    We continue to be surprised at the number of sales reps who chase every opportunity. Experienced sales managers know that not all sales opportunities are created equal.  To effectively qualify a sales opportunity, you must know if the buyer fits your ideal target client profile and if your unique value proposition resonates with their strategic priorities.

    The best sales qualifiers discern quickly if the opportunity is worth going after because they have a high probability of winning based upon the buying process.  That means uncovering who the decision makers are, what criteria they will be using to make the decision, the resources they have available, the competition, the timing, and the perceived value of solving their problem.

    Once the information is gathered, they influence the buying decision by sharing factors the buyer may not have considered and articulating how their offering is uniquely different from competitive alternatives.

    Top solution sellers do not waste their time on unqualified opportunities.

The Bottom Line
If you push too hard, focus more on your offering than on the client situation, or are unclear on where your prospect is in the buying process, the chances of winning complex solution sales are low. Do your sales reps behave like the type of trusted advisor that your target buyers are likely to have long-term relationships with?

To learn more about how to be a more consultative sales rep, download the 30 Most Effective Sales Qualifying Questions when Selling Solutions

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