Does Your Sales Team Have Consultative Selling Skills?
Our last article discussed how sales has changed over the past few years, why selling is so much harder, and why taking a consultative sales approach is crucial to consistently winning more business.
"Does your sales team have the consultative selling skills needed to drive revenue growth and win more business and more profitable business?"
Here are five questions to consider as you help your sales leaders drive the transition from transactional sales tactics to consultative sales success. And even if your sales managers have already successfully lead this transition, continue focusing on these questions to reinforce the progress your sales team has made.
- Do your sales people ask good questions?
Too often sales people stay in their comfort zone and avoid asking questions that lead them to an area they may not know. And sales people desperately want to avoid unfamiliar ground so they stay safe by asking easy, surface-level questions.
If you have taken steps to map out your sales process and understand the most common business issues and challenges your prospective customers face (from their perspective, not your perspective), you are on the right track.
Use your next sales meeting to brainstorm the top three most common business problems your product and service addresses, then develop question funnels that can help your prospects discover and quantify these areas for themselves.
- Do your sales people ask enough questions?
I'm always amazed by how quickly sales people want to move on to another topic. When practicing a sales call or observing a sales rep in action, I can never understand why they are in such a rush! Just when they find something to dig into, they move right past it to the next issue.
- Tell your team to really slow down, take their time, and dig deep.
- Ask follow up questions.
- Ask questions about the problem.
- Ask questions around the problem.
1. How long has it been an issue?
2. When did you first notice this?
3. What impact has that had on
(your operations, your budget, your team, your market position, new product development, recruitment, etc.)?
4. What have you done about it so far?
5. How did that work?
6. How much did that cost?
7. What do you think you'll do next?
8. What happens if this isn't fixed?
9. What does that mean for you?
And on, and on, and on. You can always ask more questions, and the more questions you ask that help the prospect consider their business challenges from a different perspective, the more valuable your conversations will be and they will want you to stick around.
- Are your sales people creating urgency for the prospect to take action?
Asking good questions and asking lots of questions will only take your sales people so far - are the questions they are asking creating urgency for the prospect to act? Are they helping the prospect discover their problems, think about them differently, quantify the impact, and want to do something about it (whether or not that means doing something with you).
When your sales team starts asking questions that create urgency, the opportunities in your sales pipeline will begin to move more quickly and the deals they close should be at higher margins.
- Are your sales people effective listeners?
It is nearly impossible to keep a consultative sales conversation on track without being a really good listener. Your sales people need to decide to listen, block everything else out, focus in on the most important issues the prospect shares, and ask follow up questions with ease. When your team can let go of the need to control the conversation and just listen, respond, and ask a follow up question, you'll know they're track to becoming consultative sales professionals.
- Do your sales people quickly develop relationships?
How well do they know their prospective customers? Can they quickly build trust and is it genuine? Without a foundation of trust a great relationship, it is nearly impossible to dig into all of the issues they need to explore and ask all the tough questions they need to ask.
The sales person who builds rapport quickly, asks great questions that makes the prospect think about their business differently, and adds value by summarizing the challenges and offering new ideas or approaches will quickly develop relationships and will be able to ask enough questions.
In this economic environment it's crucial to master the art of consultative selling. Challenge your sales managers to focus on these five questions with their sales teams and hold them accountable to follow through and reinforce these concepts. The sooner you establish that you will no longer tolerate mediocre margins and transactional selling, the faster you will see your revenue picture improve.
The difference between top producing sales people and everyone else is their ability to focus their time, energy, and sales efforts on their best prospect and client opportunities on a consistent basis. Our simple Sales Focus Worksheet will help you do just that.