- Are you or your sales people too focused on selling the steak and not the sizzle?
- Are you meeting many people yet not closing enough deals?
- Do you know more about your products than about people, more about data sheets and less about their buying blueprints?
Imagine seeing a doctor for the first time, and the moment you step into the room, he starts giving you a prescription without even taking time to understand your situation. Would you ever consult this doctor again?
Living in this modern society, where people are more educated than before, gone are the days where you will go all out to talk people around into buying your products. You will have to be able to think like a doctor! And that is what consultative selling is all about.
What Is Consultative Selling?
While the conventional selling approach works by you trying to convince your consumer with the sales talk, leading to the close, the consultative selling approach works in an entirely different manner. You may not even need to worry about not possessing the best closing techniques. Once you can understand the customer’s issues or problems, you will have a great relationship, and the closing will take care of itself.
Selling today starts with the customer, not the product. It requires you to develop a strong connection with your customers and identify their buying concerns or unique buying strategies.
As a great leadership coach John Maxwell once put it, “Many people communicate; but only a few connect”. What does he mean?
Developing an emotional connection with someone you would like to influence or your customer is important since it allows you to build rapport and trust with him, which is an important element in the buying decision-making process. Yet, trust can only be developed between you and your customer when both of you are communicating in the same frequency or wavelength. Moreover it is important to constantly remind yourself of the old saying that different strokes should be catered for different folks.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Known as meta-programs, this is a tool you may find useful in observing and identifying different buying patterns. It is the study of how our unique inputting, sorting and filtering preferences actually shape what we constantly focus on and how we make decisions in our life. More importantly, it is crucial not to assume that all your customers wish to be sold in the same way as you love to be sold!
For example, there is a meta-program known as the “representation systems”, which is the study of how our customers habitually represent or process information in their mind through their five senses. While there are people who are more inclined towards processing information in their mind with images, some prefer to do so with sounds, while others do so through sensations or feelings. As such, they may have “different language processing” in their brain.
As a sales professional, you may engineer your words in the way that appeals to your prospect and lead him/her to be more open to your proposal. When approaching people who are more visually-oriented, try to use more words or phrases like “see,” “look,” “picture this,” and more illustrative words. They are people who will respond very well to visuals and thus you should never miss out the visuals in your sales pitch.
Yet, there are others who may resonate better with you based on what you say and how you say it. These people are more auditory-inclined and tends to tune in better to words such as “listen,” “hear,” “sounds like,” and even phrases like, “Can you hear what I’m saying?”. They are good listeners and tend to focus a lot of what was being mentioned during a negotiation.
Finally there are those who are more kinesthetic-inclined and prefer you to speak to them using words and phrases that connect with their emotions. Several years ago, I had an interesting revelation when a very close friend of mine gave me honest feedback and told me how I rarely use the phrase “I feel” during our conversations. He did not feel connected to me whenever I used the phrase “I think”!
Thus identifying the preferred representation system and preferred language of your customers can actually do wonders in your ability to connect with them. Build up your sensory acuity skills and be highly adaptable in the use of your language with your prospects. Practice often and you will eventually see yourself making progress thus becoming a master of influence and proficient in your pitching.