Strategies for establishing a connection
Building a connection is essential in consultative sales, and there are many strategies you can use to do so. For starters, always listen actively, ask questions to understand their needs, and show interest in their answers. Because everyone likes to be understood, show your customer empathy toward their perspective by using phrases like, "I completely understand how you feel." It can help you unlock a deeper connection You can also repeat, paraphrase, or summarize what the customer said to you. This shows you are engaged, listening, and paying attention.
When talking to the customer, it's imperative to make it personal. Use the customer's name and always remember something unique about them. If the customer has a child, you can quickly establish a connection by remembering the child's name and sharing elements of your personal life.
Above all, you should boldly demonstrate your expertise by delivering relevant information that addresses their needs.
Ask questions and pinpoint their needs
In consultative sales, your ability to ask relevant questions is unparalleled. It's the cornerstone of consultative sales and is essential to meeting the customer's needs. And when you ask the right question, you'll create endless opportunities. Specifically, you should always ask questions to:
- Understand your customer's needs. The customer's needs can act as a guide for how you tailor the solution.
- Build trust with the customer. Most people only ask questions about something they're interested in. Demonstrate your interest in your customer's problems by asking questions.
- Identify hidden or additional opportunities. Oftentimes, sales professionals will identify additional opportunities to upsell or cross-sell products or services they have never considered.
- Prepare to overcome objections. If you're selling a product or service, one thing is almost certain — you'll have objections. When you ask questions, you can uncover and assuage concerns and objections before they arise.
Questions to ask to identify customer needs in consultative sales
There are no one-size-fits-all approaches to asking your customer questions. The only certainty is you must ask different types of questions, including:
- Open-ended questions encourage the customer to share more information and provide insights into their needs, challenges, and goals. These questions are more exploratory and can be instrumental in getting the client to talk. Examples of open-ended questions include, "What do you like the most about your current provider?"
- Closed-ended questions can usually require a simple "yes" or "no." A closed-ended question would be, "Did you hit your sales targets when you were with your previous provider?"
- Probing questions are follow-up questions used to dive deeper into a response. These questions can help explore additional insights and information. An example of a probing question would be "When you didn't hit your sales targets last year, did you find the root causes?"
- Clarifying questions ensures you and the customer clearly understand the information or the situation. For instance, a clarifying question could be "Just to confirm, hitting your department's sales targets is the top priority?" or "Can you clarify what you mean by that?"
- Hypothetical questions can be powerful ways to explore different scenarios or outcomes. For example, you could ask a prospect, "If you didn't use your previous provider, would things have been different?" or "What would happen if you continued with your current process?"
Uncover and prioritize your customer's needs
In the process of uncovering and prioritizing your customer's needs, some methods are more effective than others. For example, your sales conversations should include a healthy dose of open-ended questions. These questions prompt your customer to think and talk, making them more likely to share vital insights.
Before you ever meet with the customer, take time to conduct research. Learn about the competition, their industry, and the challenges they may face. This can show the customer you understand their business and help you ask more informed questions. In addition, you should always:
- Make sure to identify the pain points
- Work to understand the client's decision-making process
- Ask for feedback whenever you suggest solutions.
Present your solutions confidently and close the sale
By now, you've had extensive conversations with the customer, and you should clearly understand their needs. You may have even perfectly mapped how your solution or product can solve the customer's problem.
None of that matters if you can't present your solution in a clear, compelling, and confident way. However, consultative selling takes this process one step further.
You must tailor your solution and presentation to the customers' expressed needs, preferences, and goals. Consider this process:
- Show the client's current standing and level set by discussing where the client is.
- Next, remind the customer of the potential or realized complications they can experience by not addressing the challenges.
- Finally, make the connection between their problem and your solution.
Tips for identifying the right time to close in consultative sales
One of the trickiest parts of selling is knowing when to close. If you try to close too soon, you can destroy credibility and rapport. If you wait too long, your competition may do it for you, or you lose the customer's interest.
Fortunately, your client will usually demonstrate distinct closing signals. Some of the most common closing signals include:
- When the customer asks questions about pricing, features, or delivery options, it may be time to close.
- If the customer shows increased engagement or interest, positively responds to your pitch, or expresses enthusiasm about your product or service, it may be closing time.
- Sometimes the customer will explicitly tell you they are interested in purchasing. It's one of the clearest, tell-tale signs it's time to close.
- Watch out for nonverbal cues, such as leaning forward, maintaining eye contact, and head nods. All of these can be indicators that it's time to close.
- When the customer asks about the next steps, you should close.
Remember, every customer is different. While some customers may exhibit multiple signs, others may exhibit none. As a consultative sales professional, you must listen and use your judgment to determine when it's time to close.
Always follow up and actively maintain your relationships
If you've ever purchased a car, you know how appreciative you feel when the sales professional calls you the day after — just to check up on you.
Then, they may call back a week later after you've had time to drive the vehicle, and you may have questions. And you may even receive a card or a small gift every year for your birthday, keeping the sales professional fresh in your mind.
This outlines the final step in the consultative selling process — following up and actively maintaining the relationship.
Even though the follow-up is the last step, it doesn't diminish its importance. Most experts suggest that relationship building starts after the sale. Because many people expect the one-and-done sales professional, you can wow your customers by consistently following up. When you get it right, you can forge a lasting relationship that continues to deliver high ROI in the form of repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals.
As a sales professional, we get it...you have a lot on your plate. No matter how busy you are, nothing should take precedence over you reaching out to your previous customers.
Fortunately, Mailchimp's innovative sales tools make it easy to build and nurture lasting relationships with clients. This way, you can stay on your customer's minds and make your way into their hearts with minimal effort.