Turn Selling into a Consultative Selling

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-Urvshi Ganjoo Dhar

I‘m sure as sales people, you wish that you had a magic wand to uncover why your customers aren’t buying more of your excellent products. Answer is “Track your sales and follow through”. The entire sales process involves a sophisticated ability to relate to customers professionally by asking the right questions at the right times, listening carefully to answers, and perceiving all the implications of the conversation. It includes having a realistic understanding of the customer’s business problems, perhaps even better than the customer has, and gently guiding the customer to think through problems and develop solutions that include the seller’s products and services.

Consultative refers to a style of selling in which the rep devotes more time to investigating and analyzing physician needs and less time in presenting products and service. The term comes from the consulting professions in which clients hire professionals to analyze problems and offer recommendations. It involves much more than asking good questions and listening to the answers although both are critical to successful consultation.

Consultative selling requires adding value through the expertise of the sales person and/or company. It demands high levels of knowledge, strategy, and skill all grounded in a thorough understanding of the selling process.

Sales model, the four phases of the performance cycle are:

  • Establishing Rapport
  • Identifying and Analyzing Needs
  • Responding to Needs
  • Facilitating Decisions

A tailored presentation has a much greater chance to fall on interested ears. Actually to tailor your call, you need to work around the conversation you had with your client, you have to guide the conversation in a manner that the client is involved at the same time doesn’t find you bugging. There are four basic stages which need to be covered and you will get a positive response:

The client might not ask but he certainly has 4 questions in his mind, which if answered appropriately would result in a sale for sure.

  • What is the need for me to buy this product at all?
  • Why should I buy from you, when there is already the same specifications available with the other company?
  • Why should I buy this at the price you are offering?
  • Why should I buy now and not may be a month or two later? 

Well begun is half done 

Good openers come in many forms, depending on the client’s personality, his purchasing patterns and what you are trying to accomplish. If you don’t have much time on your call and you want to quickly clarify a statement the client made on a previous call, ask, “The last time I was here, you said you liked my product? What do you like about it?” No matter what opening question you ask, the answer should be information

that you can use to convince the client to purchase more of your products. You can try to get the client to sell himself with questions such as “Why do you think so many customers are buying so much of this product?”

Make a list of how much time you get with each clinet and see if you can’t double it in two months with smart questions. Work on those all important attention getting openers. Make your customers want to spend more time with you.

Smart Questions: 

Now that you have opened the sales call, continue asking questions. Actually, this is where the real questioning begins. But, it is here, that most reps make a common mistake: they let the opening question get away. What do I mean by that? Let’s look at this sales call:

Sales Exec: Tim, I notice you have been purchasing a lot of our competitor’s product. What is it you like about that product?

Doc: Oh, I like the fact that it has other variations.

Sales Exec : Well, our product can be a good choice because…

What was wrong with this dialogue? He just let the answer hang in the wind and started right in on with his selling message. What was the question he should have asked? He should have asked the customer “What are those variations? What do you specifically like about them?” His mistake was not asking the second probing question. The purpose of probing questions is to get the customer to give you valuable information to “set up” your presentation.

Action Stage: 

Once you have gotten to the point where you are ready to close, you need to ask for specifics from the customer. Even, if you ask, “Will you purchase more of our product?” and the customer says “Yes,” your work is not yet done. Do not accept generalities. What specifically does “Yes” mean? You want to get a real commitment out of the customer. You must ask, pause, make eye contact and clearly establish the your expectation of the customer to answer. You should plant the expectation in the customer’s mind that you will continue to ask for a commitment and that the customer will be expected to answer with specifics.

When you ask for specifics and hold the customer to the answers he gives, you create the expectation of your future visits. Your customers must know you expect more from them. The only way you’ll get it is by asking and expecting a meaningful reply.

Who are Top Reps? 

To isolate the factors that make a sales representative effective is not easy. The best reps have:

  • excellent selling skills and behaviors
  • exhibit consistent performance
  • build pipelines
  • contribute to their teams
  • focus on the most profitable accounts
  • open new accounts
  • and win customer loyalty

However, when you ask the best representatives what makes them best, they often don’t know which skills and behaviors set them apart. And when you ask sales managers who observe sales representatives, they’re usually so focused on helping to close deals that they cannot concentrate on the subtleties of the rep’s process. 

Finding the Top Reps

A look at sales results in terms of quarterly numbers may not always reveal these top reps, either. That’s because even reps with poor selling skills occasionally sell the most-when they happen to have a great territory or have taken over from a previous salesperson who was outstanding, when their products have the lowest prices or the weakest competition, or when they’re just plain lucky. Some sales are made in spite of, not because of, the salesperson.

So how do you identify top salespeople? Look for the representatives with the ability to learn continuously from experience, to take full responsibility for professional development, to size up each situation, and to apply the most effective skills for that encounter. Most often, they will be the ones using consultative selling dialog techniques.

As a company what the challenges you need to accept are:

  • The ways to increase the customer base to the existing product range
  • The ways to increase the product base to the existing customers
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