Would you believe that sales doesn’t need to be pushy?
In fact, would you believe that sales can be a mutually beneficial process for both you and the customer?
If not… prepare to be surprised.
Consultative sales:¬†It’s not a new practice, but it is one of the most powerful sales systems to date.
Some people call it “solution selling” or you may have heard of “S.P.I.N. selling,” those are similar methods. The main thing you need to know is that this process involves going deep into the underlying problems and unmet needs of your prospect. Then you guide the prospect towards a potential solution to their problem — the solution being your product — through a process that resembles the ‘socratic method.’
The Step-By-Step Process
Step 1) The Situational Questions
Start off the sales process by asking questions regarding your prospect’s current situation — in regards to their pain points. For example, if you are selling a television service, then ask questions like:
- What type of cable or network television services are you subscribed to?
- How happy are you with your current television provider?
In this stage, you’re trying to build rapport. Use this time to get acquainted with the prospect, and get an initial idea of where they stand in regard to being a potential customer of yours.
Step 2) The Problem Questions
Now¬†you want to ask the prospect probing questions, and see if they have an unmet need. You want to find out what problems they have, so you can direct your attention – later on in the sales process – to their specific pain points.
The idea is that you are acknowledging the prospect’s situation, rather than trying to impose your own desires, and therefore are seen as a helping hand.¬†In other words, you want to build a relationship with this person and demonstrate that your intention is to help them find a solution to a problem… NOT to try and force your product on them.
Step 3) Implication Questions
This is the part of the process where the genius behind consultative sales starts to emerge. Using the answers your prospect gave you to the earlier questions — ask new questions based on the¬†implication¬†of not solving their problem.
- How much of an issue is losing TV access during a thunderstorm?
- Does the poor customer service by your current provider cause you a serious headache?
You are trying to lead the prospect to critically think about their problem, and really internalize how big of an issue it has become. In a way, you are allowing the prospect to get emotional about their pain points, and this will make them much more likely to seek out a solution.
Step 4) Need-Payoff Questions
At this point¬†we’re going for the close — but not the typical close you see in traditional “hard selling.” You have brought the prospect almost all way through the process, now you need to lead them towards the the final conclusion. Ideally at this point in the process, the prospect has realized that¬†your product will solve their pain points and is worth their immediate effort.
- If you could solve all of these problems, what impact would that have on your daily life?
- Would it be worth your time and effort to make the switch today?
If you’ve asked the right questions, and followed the process as described, your prospect will immediately jump on your offer. In other words: they will sell themselves. That’s the beauty of consultative sales, you are actually helping people solve their problems rather than trying to pressure them into an unnecessary product. Of course, the one caveat to this process is that your product needs to legitimately solve your prospects’ problems. But that’s a different discussion entirely, right?¬†