Contrary to the popular belief, being a sales representative doesn’t require an outgoing personality or aggressive attitude. Profits aside, knowledge of how to help people make decisions matters a lot. In fact sales people are often called consultants. Because of their ability to meet the objections and make the product or service seem like the obvious solution to a customer’s problem. Consultative selling helps! The better approach is so close a sale and it can seem like you don't see being sold something, which is opposite to traditional sales approach. Remember Glengarry Glen Ross?

Traditional selling vs consultative selling

Here is our traditional old school sales representative approaches a buyer. The sales representative has a product to sell. The first thing that he needs to figure out is if the buyer wants a product, and he then asked a few questions. Usually the sound like someone fishing for information. What sort of computer are you looking for? Is your company in the market for improved run-times? How are you guys handling the increased sales load?

Sales representative spots the need that is product will sell, he jumps the chance to tell the buyer about his solution. He spins a picture of the benefits, weaving the story about how the lives of the company would be better if they purchase a product. Hidden is the "ask" if they would like to buy it. At this point of time the buyer races objections with the sales person and endeavors to counter with logic and examples.

Where there is nothing about the approach that is dishonest it feels manipulative. As soon as the sales representatives starts asking the questions to find out what the buyer needs a buyer knows about his answer, it creates a trap for prospect into buying, and that's lame! This is bound to create a resistance. It feels awkward to the buyer and also feels awkward to the sales representative.

No one wants to feel awkward

More sales representatives don’t want to feel manipulative. They do not want to feel pushy. But they know that their product or service is a great solution for their buyer. So they try to be convincing, and tell the buyer of benefits. When the buyer objects the sales representative uses various techniques to handle the objection - all of which wheels out elements of manipulation, introduces value pricing to both the buyer and service provider.

What does a salesperson do?

One solution is to learn how to be more consultative. Consultants often help people make the decisions. Being practical, its very high valued and multilayered the decisions that really like buyers to engage more with the provider. What a sales representative could use is consultative selling techniques to sell products and services. And, fortunately they can sell better!

By studying consulting skills a sales representative can learn how to ask questions the right way, how to step back from pitching their product/service and really understand the problem. How to raise objections is explored proactively and giving buyers the time and space to make decisions that make sense to them.

Typical sales question in a traditional selling – How do you feel about your four wheeler drive? When do you want to put your home on the market? Here the questions that’s a more consultative sales representative might ask – Doesn't your business deserve better clients? What sort of things bother you about your current truck? Did you find a financial planner that will really saved those taxes? What concerns do you have about the timing of putting your house on the market?

Traditional sales people are appropriate but at conversation then they are usually asked, the questions sometimes don’t necessarily reflect the buyers prospection. Consultative selling usually means having a longer opening conversation with the service providers/consultancies to understand not just what the buyer wants to buy but also what they are buying and what might stop them from buying!

Question chains

When someone gets an useful information about the prospect, a consulting sales representative doesn’t use this to sell the product. He uses it to ask more questions. One consulting approach is to ask questions and question chains. A question chain is a pattern of question-statement all with intending to understand the business better.

Here is an example., A homeowner says ‘we are worried that our house will sell to soon and we will have to put stuff in storage.’ Realtor : That will be disruptive wouldn’t it? If it did sell too soon what other options have a consider rather than putting the stuff in storage?

Not fixing the problem for them are telling them they are wrong or explaining the timing of a typical sale. Instead the letter is acknowledging their concern is valid by repeating what they said and then drilling down further.

Homeowner: "Thought about putting our stuff in the front garage but that would feel weird." Realtor: "I can understand that. What else have you thought about doing"  Stopping at one solution but instead — drilling down for more solutions. The homeowner will come up with the best solution by evaluating solution through the realtors encouragement.

What Motivates Buyers to Spend Money?

Successful marketers understand consumer's buying habits and motivations behind those habits. Although consumer behavior is not always easy to pin down, there are three basic motives behind consumer spending. These are emotional, rational and patronage motives.

Marketers must look at the products & service and ask what emotion does this evoke? If selling a mattress, for example, a good night’s sleep is a natural emotional reaction. If marketing a day spa, a marketer should work to enact a sense of beauty and well-being. If marketing a new game, a sense of adventure needs to be deduced.

Emotional motives

This tends to be the strongest motivation for buyers. Items or services are purchased because a consumer’s feelings are aroused. This includes products bought on impulse, as well as items that are highly competitive. Pet food is sold because a cute puppy looks at the consumer from the other side of a screen or an car alarm system is purchased because of fear of being jacked.

Restaurant ads create a visual enticement for the consumer’s taste buds, while home safety features give a sense of security to the consumer. Everything from cosmetics to electronics to what movies to go see is marketed to consumers by inviting an emotional response. Emotional responses are elicited when one or more of 5 senses are stimulated and carries consumer into the world the marketer creates.

When a siren is heard, fear is evoked, causing a response of the listener to want the product/service that promises safety. When soft music is heard, calmness is evoked, causing a response of the listener to want the product/service that promises relaxation.

Rational motives

These are reasons consumers buy that are based on logic and facts. Often, these are high-end products/services or financial institutions such as investment firms or banks. Consumers are looking for the best product/service that fits their needs. Consumers will purchase a new computer or cell phone because of features of that specific brand. 20% logic, 80% emotion.

Closing the sale

The beauty of a consulting approaches to sale, plus as a sales consultant you don’t feel pushy. Each question chains the sales representative leads to what he can offer as his/her solution. Most are more willing to listen, because as a sales representative has listened to their prospect, and made the right counter questions. That makes a closing, a step easier on both sides. Remember, profit is not #1 objective!

Keep hustling folks.