I am tired of hearing salespeople, sales managers, sales gurus and pundits say, “Consultative selling is dead.” No, it isn’t. It’s alive and well because many of the questions taught in consultative-selling courses remain important in conducting a diagnostic sales call.
There is a lot of talk about the new way to sell: Provide insights, challenge your prospects and join them where they are on the buyer’s journey. I agree with all of these strategies but find that most salespeople that haven’t mastered consultative selling skills are going to end up in a product dump, fighting with their prospect or taking the wrong selling path. Sales fundamentals may not be sexy or the newest shiny sales object. But:
Sales fundamentals work.
I know what you are thinking: Your prospects are educated and have read the same sales books as you. So adapt your approach, recognize the sales elephant in the room and be transparent with prospects. Let them know you will be asking questions to find their pain. Yes, you actually can use those words. (They know that’s why you are there.) Tell the prospect you need to figure out if the problem is affecting the organization enough to invest dollars and/or it’s time to make a change. (That’s just common sense.) Now you’ve gained permission to ask fundamental questions needed to understand your prospect’s true needs.
- “What’s making you take a look at solving this problem or achieving this goal now?” (This question always gets me beyond the presenting problem.) If you don’t ask this question, there is a good chance you’ll create a magnificent solution -- for the wrong pain.
- “Where else are you feeling the impact of this problem?” (An even simpler question that’s been asked for years.) If you don’t ask this question, you’ll probably miss identifying other buying influences that should be considered in crafting a comprehensive solution rather than a Band-Aid approach.
- “If you don’t do anything, what will life look like around here in 12 months?” (Another easy question.) If you don’t ask this question, you might waste a lot of time with a status-quo prospect. Hint: If the prospect is OK in living with the problem, then it’s time to refer them to your competition.
Master the sales fundamentals and you will become the most masterful salesperson at your company!