Why Consultative Selling Is Critical to Better Customer Relationships

With consultative selling – or a consultative sales approach – the needs of the customer come first. That’s why it’s also often called “needs-based selling.”

This is in contrast to a traditional product or service-orientated sales approach that focuses on “you” (your business) and how great you are.

In other words, consultative selling is more benefit-based instead of feature-based.

Furthermore, emphasis is on the customer’s “problems” (the conversation already happening in their head) and how your business is uniquely qualified to solve those problems. As Richardson.com states, “Consultative Selling took the hard edge from product selling and replaced it with the strong but flexible edge that is custom fit to the customer’s needs.”

Perhaps, however, the greatest thing about consultative selling is the intimate relationship it lets you create with your customers. The steps taken in consultative sales allow you to more fully know what it is your customers want and need, so you can then give it to them. After all, isn’t that the key to the best relationships?

Here are some of the features of consultative selling:

Step One: You ask questions or at least, consider what questions your potential customers are asking themselves about their needs and/or wants…

The result of the above step is a more meaningful dialogue is created between you and your customers (or potential customers).

The word “dialogue” is Greek in origin, and means “to learn.” Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising that dialogue is an integral part of this relationship-building process between you and your clients/customers.

Step Two: Solutions (products / services) are customized based on those questions and the answers you can offer…

Rather than assuming you know the answers – or can simply “tell” – your customers what they want or need, you consider the answers to the questions in the step above. In this way, you give them what they already know they want or need, positioned so they can realize the benefit(s) quickly and easily.

Step Three: The relationship between you and your customers is personal and interactive…

After you have developed the relationship with your customers and they trust you, you can then dive a bit deeper into other problems you – your products and services – can help solve. This is where the “consultation” truly comes into play. As you come to know your customer better – and they you – you can then know how to better position other offering(s) to meet other needs they might not have previously realized they had. Again, the key is that at this point they trust that you understand them and their real needs and not just what you want to sell them.

Step Four: Your customers learn more about themselves and what matters to them through those interactions with you and your product or service…

Similarly, throughout this process, your clients and customers become more aware of their own problems and the solutions you have for those problems. They gain deeper insight into themselves and their business. They come to appreciate how well you were able to reach into this space as well, helping to solve their problems—rather than just “sell” them something.

After reviewing those points, it’s likely pretty clear why this type of sales approach lends itself to deeper and more meaningful connections to your customers or clients. It puts your relationship with your customers on a whole different level than before. And it not only makes you and important partner, it positions you as an invaluable part of their team.