Consultative doesn’t mean what many salespeople believe. They believe that it means a soft approach, one that isn’t high pressure or a hard sell. They also believe that it means they ask a lot of questions, and even though questions can be powerful, questions and in and of themselves do not make one consultative (they are necessary but not sufficient to make one consultative). Nor does simply being impartial make one a trusted advisor.
Instead, what makes one consultative is one’s ability to consult. Consultative means that one provides advice, but even more, it indicates one has the business acumen and situational knowledge to have advice worth taking. But there is more to it than just offering advice.
When you look at consultative salespeople, even thought their style may be soft and collaborative, you will witness them telling their client how to think about their problem, why they need to change, what their options are, and what they believe the right choice is. They will tell the client what they need to do to produce the outcomes they are pursuing, and when they don’t what those outcomes are, the consultative salesperson will help them understand what outcomes they should be pursuing.
The trusted advisor is trusted and has advice.
The first thing you need is the business acumen and experience to be able to dispense advice that is worth taking at best, and worth considering at worst. You also have to be willing to provide that advice, and that is equally important as having the advice to provide. It’s your job to acquire the business acumen and the experience necessary to have that advice—and the confidence to provide it.
The idea that a consultative salesperson is impartial is incorrect. A consultative salesperson has strong opinions about why their prospects should change, how they should change, and who should they choose as a partner. If they are not right for the client, they are more than willing to provide the contact information for someone who can give them the outcomes they need.
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Filed under: Consultative Sales