Why Being a Consultative Seller is more important now than it Has Ever Been – Lori Richardson
Lori Richardson is the Sales Growth Strategist at Score More Sales. She is a virtual trainer and coach and helps sales organizations hire and evaluate sales reps. Lori is also the author of the book “She Sells” and can be seen speaking at a lot of events. In the 2nd edition of B2B Binge, Lori talks about the importance of being a compulsive seller in today’s world.
How does consultative selling work in this Pandemic?
When the pandemic hit everywhere, people started saying, “don’t sell”, “don’t sell”. Nobody can sell anything. Just help people, don’t sell, and stop selling. But the fact is that selling is helping. But bad selling should not happen.
Bad selling is when people are just pushing products without understanding their requirement. It’s when you connect with someone on LinkedIn and they pitch you with their product and services and try to set up a meeting to just pitch you. That’s bad. Selling. Being consultative, you prove that you understand their requirements and offer solutions to their painpoints. That is when the selling will be admirable.
What is consultative selling?
Consultative selling is focused on the buyer and not just the buyer, but the buyer’s world. If you can know enough about your buyers to know who their customers are, an example in the pandemic, if you knew that your buyer only sold to hotels and airlines and restaurants. They were probably not people that you wanted to talk to right away because they were in a crisis mode.
However, if they were other people who are involved with telecommunications and remote work, they were going crazy and they were busy. The idea that you should personalize and sell individually. Don’t just spam people with the messages but know who you are calling.
The biggest factor in consultative selling
Curiosity is the biggest factor in consultative selling. The habit of asking questions back to back help you understanding the prospects and their needs.
If you can be like that curiosity is the desire to learn or know. It’s about inquisitiveness and if you can learn about the situation that your buyers are, it can be one of the most helpful things you can do in terms of being consultative.
Importance of asking relevant questions
Asking relevant questions are very crucial in a consultative selling approach. Each question should be related to other questions. For example, when someone tells you the price of something, a good question can be, ‘how did you come to that price?’. You can just learn so much by drilling down so many components into what consultative selling is and what that competency is.
So being able to present the right questions at the right time, staying in the moment, staying present are the different things what make up the consultative selling competency.
Selling value is important
Many people want to do in tough times is just a discount. “If I sell it to you for less, would you buy it?” and that is not selling value.
If you’re selling something that is going to improve someone’s world whether it’s their work world, professionally at home or it is service or product. Those are the things where you can sell value and you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. Sometimes you have to pivot a little bit. So that your offering changed somewhat.
Selling value also has several components. This comes from research. You can find that asking questions, great questions, asking enough questions are also important factors of selling value. Another good takeaway is to go back and say what are the 10 more questions that I could ask a buyer that might help me know how can I work with them better with my products and services? So there are different questions for different people based on their requirements.
AMA with Lori Richardson
The following is excerpts from the AMA session with Lori.
How does consulting selling will help design creative services?
You probably have several different types of buyers. I use design creative services. So if you knew more about me and my profile, then you’d know what might be important to me. I know for me, design and creative services are very hard to find someone that can take on projects quickly, get them done quickly, and do quality work and give me some assurance that it will be a good job.
What is the first step in the consultative selling approach?
The first step is to understand that you know who your prospects are.
So the first step is just really kind of segmenting people into different buckets based on different things. For example, I might have buckets of people who are referred my way, people, through LinkedIn that know something about me. I might have people that are just total, they’ve never heard of me and what I do. So then I can prepare different messaging and I can start looking into what their buyer issues are.
The consultative selling approach is always effective than the traditional selling approach, but why is it more important now?
Well, it’s more important now because when the economy was good, you didn’t have to be very good of a salesperson to be successful.
People were buying things. They had big budgets, they were buying things they didn’t need. They bought a lot of things they wanted. And all that changed in a matter of days. And there are people, who have salary cuts, pay cuts, got furloughed, got fired. I mean, this is a tough time and your must-have products and services that help that add value.
What helps you to become an industry expert? Since we don’t know about the basic industry enough, we wouldn’t be able to consult them properly.
I have a couple of ideas. One is to interview them, start a podcast, or interview them for a blog post or something, a blog on your website, and use their content to learn about them.
Ask them questions and you might even say, “I’m really not trying to sell you anything because I don’t know enough whether I can help you. But I’d love to learn about what you do. Could I just get 10 minutes of your time or could you answer just a few questions for me?”. You’ll find some people that won’t want to do that, but that will be helpful.
Consultative selling approaches always like creating a situation, asking thought-provoking questions where customers can realize his/her pain point. That’s consultative selling required pitch training, like traditional selling?
I think that consultative selling just requires good listening. Really being thoughtful, being transparent coming from the heart, and learning. It comes from a learning mindset, a growth mindset. So, if you do that, you don’t need a special program of training you, you really just need to listen.
What factors do you include in building and leveling sales enablement?
Sales enablement is a big term with a wide range of what that means. So I’m not sure what you mean. Sales enablement. In this case, I belong to the sales enablement society.
In the current situation, customers are getting engaged remotely. Is it not a challenge to build trust without in-person interactions?
Being virtual is stressful. We’re seeing ourselves and we’re hoping that we’re trying to understand and seeing if you understand. It’s harder. Yeah. It’s harder, but it’s possible. And it takes again from the heart, being genuine. Following up, I think it is very important here.
Consultative selling is a philosophy rooted in building a relationship between you and your prospects. Does it take a longer time to close a deal?
I would say no because I think it takes a longer time to close the deal if you’re not being consultative.
Because if I’m just pushing something at you, because I think you need it, I may never sell to you, but if instead I learn and I take time, yeah, it might take a little bit longer, but I’m in the end, I’m going to do something that’s a win for you and it’s a win for me. That’s what professional selling is all about.
Why should we practice consultative selling instead of product-based selling where we aim to sell the product?
Product-based selling is a newer trend. I, you know, people, I think the idea is that if you position things right, they will sell on their own. And I just, I’m working with complex. Products and services and they require some human input. So what I’m referring to things that are harder to sell than just by going to a website and find picking one and then buying it.
What is complex selling?
A complex sale would be when it involves multiple people, and we know that in mid to large size companies, there are, I think the latest eight, nine people involved in a buying decision. Well, so if you have eight or nine people involved in a buying decision, many conversations are going on in different aspects because every one of those people has different motives and different interests.
Listening skill is important for all sales selling processes. How is it different from the concept of a consultative selling approach?
Listening is, it’s just, you know, listening is a very overused word also, and it’s really hearing, it gets. It’s saying back, so did you mean this? And really making sure that I understood what you’re talking about and asking questions as we go along and drilling down.
So it’s the same as any deep or solid listening would be.
Does the consultative selling framework provide sellers with a consistent, repeatable process to more effectively execute their sales conversations?
That’s a different process but it is the consultative selling fits into it. So I would say we needed a little bigger framework, but we need a repeatable process that we can go through all of these components.
What are the special benefits of adopting a concentrated selling approach?
The special benefits are that you understand your buyer and the journey that your buyers on, not your path of what you want to sell or push at somebody. Um, we want to understand. What our buyers’ goals are, what their aspirations are? It’s funny because we don’t always want to solve a problem for someone.
What is the percentage of sales organizations that try to position themselves as consultative vs. transactional?
There’s a lot of transactional stuff on Amazon and other places online that look it up. Make a decision, you’re done. But that the more complex things are what take us professional salespeople and will never be replaced as far as I can tell.