The sales training I’ve been going to has been going on for more than ten years now. He sometimes shows movie clips or tells stories about people who are “doing it wrong” in sales. He tells one of the stories about the car salesman who doesn’t try to understand the customer.
The customer walks into the car lot, and the salesman asks them what they want to buy. The customer says, “A car.” People: “Do you have the car for me? He doesn’t ask a single thing. He doesn’t even start to throw. In B2B sales, consulting is becoming more critical. That’s because people now buy differently. Dramatically. When people bought things in the past, they had to ask for help from the seller early on in the sales process to research what they were getting.
Once the seller gets in touch with the buyer, they can talk about the buyer and the sale. The power of the seller was based on information. The seller had it, and the buyer needed it, so they both agreed to buy it from each other. It was up to the salesperson each time they went back to the seller for more information to get more money and help them make the sale.
Those who bought it didn’t like it. Now, the buyers are looking into their purchases on the internet. If your company has a product or service that people want, they can read product reviews, get prices, and talk to their friends and even strangers about using it. B2B buyers are now 60% to 90% of the way through their purchase before speaking to the seller. The seller’s information advantage is gone.
With buyers now in charge of the buying process, making them do something doesn’t work. In most cases, it doesn’t work. People want to buy but don’t want to be sold to. The best salespeople these days are more likely to help their customers. They listen for ways to help, teach, and surprise the customer. Pitching is no more. Teaching is the new pitching, and it is better than pitching. The best way to sell isn’t to sell at all. It’s more like a meeting.
To improve your success while selling consultatively, here are six areas to focus on:
1) Research – Every lead that comes in or comes up with needs to be checked out. Things like how big your company is, how many of your website pages they have looked at, and more. A lead may call you out of the blue, but start researching them while they are on the phone. And while getting in touch with people has never been more complex, the ability to analyze them has never been better. This phase will help with the following five steps.
2) Ask for information – The more information you get, the more you can help, add value, stand out from your competition, and close sales, and the more you can help people. Questions are the most important thing you can do to sell something. How? What? Why? Where? When? Who? You should try to avoid questions that ask if something is accurate or not true. Assuming something about the buyer is one of a salesperson’s worst things. Asking questions reduces the risk of making assumptions.
3) Listen – Once you ask, listen! Make sure you don’t think about what you’re going to ask next. Instead, repeat what the buyer has said, not your own words. This will make the buyer feel like they are being heard, and it will make you pay attention to what the buyer is saying. Try to talk only 30% of the time. This may feel uneasy at first, but you’ll be amazed at how well it works.
4) Teach – Teaching has replaced pitching as the preferred method of communication. In paying attention to the buyer, look for ways to teach them. Reciprocity works when people learn things they can use. This allows people to become more likely to like and trust a business. When you are teaching, don’t talk about your products or services.
5) Qualify – People used to say that they always had to close, but that’s not true anymore. If you’re still using that method, stop now. Now, the mantra should be “always be qualifying.” This tells you what to do next.
To qualify, follow the GPCT and BANT approaches
- Goals: Try to meet quantitative goals as much as possible. Their goal is:
- It’s essential to know how they’re going to reach their goals.
- It’s hard for them to do what they want to do.
- Timing: When are they thought to reach their goals?
- Is there a way for them to pay for a solution to their problem?
- Authority: Find out who in the company can make the purchasing decision.
- Can you help the buyer with a specific pain point they are having that you can help with?
- Yes, there is a time frame for when the prospect needs your solution.
Most fell sales options don’t have good responses for GPCT and BANT.
6) Close – If you’ve done the first five steps correctly, a closing will feel more like an agreement than an arm-twisting manipulation (which doesn’t work anyway). It will be additional comfortable for the customer to feel at ease. They will know what to do next, have fewer questions, and have less buyer’s regret. You can repeat steps 1-5 at any point in the consultative sales process, except for number 6.
Buyers want to buy things, but they don’t like being sold to, so they don’t want to buy something. They do, however, like when someone they trust helps them. Asking questions and listening to what the buyer says as you check them out will help you make more sales.