Even if you do not have an active sales role, it is still a good idea to learn a little bit about sales techniques. Perhaps, you will have to show your team your vision and path you deem right and you will need to argument your choice; perhaps, you’ll need to describe the best of your products to your customer on telephone, or, basically, you’ll need to introduce yourself to potential partners or investors. It is amazing to have this skill that enables you to appeal to people in your business, in your team, in your environment; it is great to have this ability to make people respect you and your message. Can you imagine having this sort of impact and never having to boast or exaggerate?
In this article I’m going down to the model of consultative selling. I will show you how you can utilize it in order to promote and sell your ideas, products or services. You will learn how to prepare yourself, what to say and how to deal with questions and objections so that your sales pitch acquires confidence and higher success chances.
With consultative selling you act as a consultant, an advisor who, in a close interaction with a prospect, identifies their needs and desires, and thereby the uses that information to select the best possible product or service to meet those needs.
Typical procedure in consultative selling
- Ask questions
- Close the deal
The consultative sales requires a higher level of trust and credibility than any other sales model. So, right now we are talking about a wonderful base for your business because you build the relationships with potential clients establishing trustworthy ground by means of right questions and no pushing. This helps you to grow a positive image, which will play to your hand. Unlike other typical sellers, you do not concentrate on foisting something on your target group, your primary purpose is to advise and support, and that’s why they are going to love you and trust you.
Whether you’re selling your prospect an idea, a project, a product, or even a job, you have to approach the topic with the field expert level of understanding. Automatically you should express interest in your interlocutor, their business and needs. To do sales effectively means to prepare meticulously, with a due level of attention and dedication, investing your time and energy. You will see, — it pays off.
Tips that will help you with preparation:
1. Identify your target group – With whom will you speak? Is it a decision maker, or a gatekeeper standing between you and the decision maker? What role does this person have?
2. Identify the main drivers – What concerns your counterpart has? What goals he/she has at their position and how much time it requires to attain them?
3. Pay attention to the language of your counterpart. Is he a fact-oriented person? Or he prefers to keep the conversation simple and concise?
4. Specify clearly what you are selling. Is it about a new product or a ready-to use service or it is you who is being introduced?
5. Connect and associate your counterpart with your product and its advantages – the most effective marketers and sellers realize that there is a clear difference between the functions of a product and the benefit and advantage those function give to the potential customer. The functionality is important for your counterpart. It always resonates in your interlocutors head „what will I gain with this product? “.
a. Features is the functionality and characteristics of your product or idea, it is actually what your product does. For instance, some new accounting software, user-friendly, fast and efficient, with real time reporting, and everybody would love to have it. These are the qualities of your product.
b. Advantages are what those nice features of your product actually mean to your potential buyer. For instance, due to the speed of its operation, this accounting software allows to save users time so that he or she can dedicate this time to some other important tasks. User’s level of stress reduces because they use this efficient software, and they receive up-to-date information from the system.
Features are often boring, and it takes time to recognize all the possibilities. But when you translate these features into benefits, you automatically build emotional connection with your customer. If you feel ready, concentrate on the advantages of your product or idea, identify them precisely, understand what those advantages may mean to a potential buyer. This way you will be able to communicate this information to your target audience with clarity and sincerity.
Understand the needs of your target group – identify the problems that your product or idea is supposed to solve, address them. It will directly influence the way you pitch. When you speak to people who are not in your field of business activity, make sure you use words and terms that anyone, from any kind of professional background, can understand. You should convey and convince, not to puzzle. Underline your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – people buy the best possible solution that meets their needs and is adequate to their budget.
The more you rehearse and practice your presentation and pitch tone the more comfortable you will feel when the time comes to actually deliver your presentation and try to sell something. Practice what you want to tell your client, and rehearse it as frequently as possible.
During a sales pitch
Here are a few guidelines for your presentation:
Hold the conversation
– You want to establish a connection with your counterpart so that your presentation or your pitch could have this wonderful light feeling of a nice conversation. It might feel awkward and uncomfortable for both your audience and you yourself when you just stand up, come to them and start selling something. You can talk about your idea or a product with inspiration and passion right from where you stand.
– Active involvement of your target group is the key to retain their focus. When you meet someone tet-a-tet, make sure you both speak equal time. Do not load your counterpart with too many questions and always listen without interrupting. When you are delivering a presentation in front of the group, encourage the audience to ask questions during the presentation. Of course, we mean relevant questions that would not drive you off your agenda.
Focus on "help" instead of "sales"
- Consultative selling means that you identify what your counterpart needs. Concentrate on that and try to keep your sellers instincts and competing aims away from the talk.
Pay attention to body language
– Pay attention to the non-verbal communication during your pitch. When people start feeling bored or make repetitive movements by their hand or foot, it is a good signal that you should transition to the next key point of your pitch or wind up your presentation.
No matter how skillfully you are pitching, there always going to be one client who has something to object or has some reservations as for your product/service/idea. And if you turn out unprepared you will end up losing control of the situation. It is important to know and recognize that objection does not automatically mean „no”. It just means that your audience is ready to bombard you with a series of questions and express their concerns. Thus, we can see that objections should not make you cringe but rather accept it as your perfect opportunity to address your counterpart’s fears, reassure them and go on optimistically.
Every time as your audience comes forward with an objection, you can retort with a question. When you approach an objection with a question you are feeling and locate the root of a problem, — you should not sound like you are fighting back tossing the ball in return. Besides, it shows your customers that you indeed recognize their concern and you are eager to cooperate in order to find an objective solution that would satisfy both parties.
Close the sale
If you do not receive your customer’s decision directly on the pitch day it means your counterpart has got some time to think about your conversation and everything you told. What is important here is not to leave the situation open. Your chances to sell successfully fall dramatically if you do not receive confirmation or at least some sign of certainty and leave your customer with thoughts.
Therefore, as you feel that your sales talk is coming to an end, make sure you set some precise date or time for your next step in the process. It gives you the possibility to rework your pitch once again, this time, with regard to objections spawned in the process. If you realize that your product or idea do not really suit your potential client withdraw elegantly. Unfortunately, people seldom do it. It can be a pleasant surprise for the customer, and maybe next time you talk to them he or she will be more receptive and impressible.
It doesn’t matter what you are selling, there are stakeholders to always take into consideration, people whom you have to pull on your side for your product or service in order to succeed in what you are doing. That is why stakeholder management is so important. These key players can either propel your sales or scupper them.
From time to time many of us have to utilize sales techniques, intentionally or not. Therefore it is imperative to learn how to prepare yourself and how to pitch your products and services, because this is a wonderful skill you can use in business and in life. As for non-sellers the consultative selling is an effective model from practice for practice which is based on the most important principles of respect and trust.
The bottom line for us, selling non-sellers, is to make sure that the amount of effort and time we invest in our preparation is at least similar to what we invest in a sales talk itself. Practice your pitch with diligence and dedication, and make sure that you understand to the fullest not only the features of your product/service but also have a clear idea about its advantages.