- June 20, 2012
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
So much is written about consultative selling and the huge part it plays in the world of modern sales. However, talking about consultative selling and actually selling consultatively are two entirely different things. Actual consultative selling requires that salespeople ask good, tough, timely questions, and when appropriate, challenge and push back. Most salespeople simply cannot do that, not because the questions are so difficult, but because the questions cannot be scripted in advance. A salesperson’s follow-up questions nearly always should be derived from a prospect’s most recent response and that’s where the challenge usually begins. In today’s article, we discuss five examples of what salespeople must do to sell more effectively.
Listening. Many salespeople aren’t even capable of stage 1 listening skills.
Here’s an example. Today, I was listening to the radio and for the very first time, I actually heard the words to songs I enjoyed when I was younger. Back then, I felt and heard the music – the notes and chord changes – but never quite caught the words. I’m one of those people who sings songs with all the wrong words. So, why did I hear the words today yet not when I was younger and listening to the very same songs, over and over, many times each week? Stage 1 listening skills. I have developed them quite nicely over years, but did not have those skills back then. Most salespeople have not developed those skills either.
Unselfish. We live in a self-centered world and for many salespeople, it’s very difficult to focus non-stop on what someone else is saying without thinking of themselves for the entire length of a sales call. Until salespeople can focus on someone else, they won’t hear all of what their prospects are really telling them.
Curiosity. Salespeople must ask their prospects to tell them more about what they are hearing, but salespeople think they know what their prospects mean, so they rarely ask prospects to explain anything.
Patience. Salespeople can’t wait to talk about what they sell and how it helps. As a result, they avoid asking more questions because it delays their presentations, demos, proposals and quotes – things in which they have confidence and believe they do effectively. Salespeople must slow down, dig in and go deeper and wider with their questioning.
Counting Higher – Similar to impatience, salespeople tend to believe that they are selling consultatively when they have asked a few questions. The reality is, until about 50 questions have been asked, a salesperson isn’t close! This isn’t 50 scripted questions where one simply goes down a list. This is 50 thoughtful, spontaneous follow-ups to perhaps one, or maybe two opening questions which were asked by the salesperson in the first five minutes.
Perhaps these examples will help you think of some areas in which your selling skills have tremendous room for improvement.