How To Do Consultative Selling: Improve Pitching Skills & Win Clients

Traditional sales techniques aren’t effective anymore in today’s highly competitive, changing market. Customers don’t want to be strong-armed by salespeople into buying products and services they don’t need or don’t know the benefits of. 

So what’s the best strategy for engaging new prospects, if pushy high pressure sales tactics are out

Consultative sales is a selling method that is proving more successful than traditional product-centric sales pitches. Whereas product selling may be easier, it’s not always better especially with customers who are reluctant to buy or already buying from your competition.

Effective communication is the core of consultative selling. Learning how to listen and engage with your customers, and become an ally rather than adversary, will keep them coming back to you as their go-to supplier. 

Not sure what consultative sales looks like? Here are some important features to note. A consultative salesperson will:

  • Ask questions to see if the prospect has a true need for the product
  • Find prospects that fit with the products they sell
  • Focus on providing solutions for the prospect
  • Sell the next step in the sales process, not the product
  • Encourage the prospect to do most of, or an equal amount of, talking
  • Talk about benefits, problems, ROI, and client examples
  • Prioritise the prospect’s interests (making money, decreasing costs, making their life better, etc.)

What are you selling – the product or it benefits?

If you know a lot about a product it’s easy to fall into the habit of simply listing its features and expecting a prospect to take action purely on the strength of the product itself. But a consultative approach is a better way to start a conversation. Taking the time to find out about the client’s problems and focusing on how your product can solve them, achieves greater wins and longer lasting results.

Consultative selling can help you: 

  • Build stronger relationships with current stakeholders
  • Diagnose and understand client needs
  • Tailor information to be relevant 
  • Motivate and influence key decision makers
  • Improve team management skills
  • Create a lasting impression with clients

In the video below, Tim Chilvers explains how consultative selling using the Adoption Ladder process can secure long-term customers.

4 Stages of the Adoption Ladder

1. Awareness

This stage is about making yourself visible to the prospective customer and asking questions to deepen your understanding of their problem. You’re on the lookout for opportunities in which you can be of assistance.

2. Interest

At this stage you’re focused on moving someone out of awareness and engaging their interest. Let them know how your product or service can solve a particular problem they have and how it can benefit them. A consultative salesperson knows not to push the issue but will suggest following up later so the prospect has time to reflect.

3. Trial

If the customer is keen to proceed, this is where you establish a transactional relationship. They use your product or service on a trial basis to solve a particular problem.

4. Adoption

The final stage is becoming their product or service of choice. Their habit is to call you first. If you can move people through these 4 stages effectively you create a win-win situation. The buyer has their problem solved, and you gain a loyal, long-term customer.

Do you need to upskill your client conversations?

Is the sales method you’re using outdated? Do you want to learn more about consultative selling? If so we can help you upskill your client conversations. 

Even if you think you’re already pretty good at communicating, consultative selling needs regular work and training to keep ahead of the game.

We can help you design client conversations that are structured around consulting to improve your listening and pitching skills. This will not only increase your influence, and impact your sales success, but also improve your client, team and management conversations. 

As an introduction to your consultative selling journey download the 7 Deadly Sins of Pitching and learn about the sales pitch sins you need to avoid. Sign up for your free cheat sheet today and rock your next sales pitch!

The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.

Colin James

Colin James is a well-respected Educator, Keynote Speaker, Facilitator and Co-Founder of The Colin James Method® and Inner Profit Pty Ltd a vibrant leadership development company in Australia. Creating memorable, impactful world-class events that deeply influence the way people feel, think and behave is Colin James’ forte