Consultative Selling

Customers seldom say, “Where do I sign?”  Often they have questions or objections and resist moving forward, so you have to do two things well.

First, you have to have a model or set of steps that has been proved to work well.  A good model ensures that the customer feels you are helpful, rather than defensive, argumentative or manipulative.   All sales trainers have such a model and they are pretty much all the same.  What is important is that you understand why they work as they do.

And the second thing you have to do well?  You had better be able to respond to the objection in order to overcome it.  In other words, you have to come up with a really good answer!  There are ways to develop these great answers, and I’ll talk about them next time.

But for now, what do you do first when the customer says, “I’ll have to think about this” or “The last time I bought one of these I had some problems with it”?

Let’s suppose that you have some sort of emotional monitor, or “EKG” on the customer when he objects.  You would then see a spike at the point of objection, and it does not stand to reason that you can advance your sale when the customer is in this state.  So your first action is to take steps to help the customer see that you are on his side, empathetic, understanding.

So when you first hear an objection, simply make a statement of understanding or empathy, such as “Yes, this is an important purchase and you want to give it a great deal of consideration,” or “I can certainly understand why you would be concerned about buying a similar product.”

Now ask the customer to talk more about it, for example, “Tell me what most concerns you.”  In my seminars I ask learners, “Why do you think you should ask questions of the customer at this point?”  And they always say it’s to get information about how to answer.  But that’s only half of it.  What you really want is to get the customer talking, because when the customer is talking, he’s buying.  Your questions will lead the customer through the self-discovery process, essential in all consultative selling.

So after you’ve empathized, probed and confirmed your understanding, give the answer, at a point where the customer feels you are his thinking partner.  We can probably summarize these steps as follows:

1)     Show understanding or empathy.

2)     Probe; get the customer talking.

3)     Confirm; show you’re listening.

4)     Respond; use benefits.

Of course you can’t overcome every objection you hear, but these steps will help you keep the customer on your side.  After you respond in step four, always ask the customer if your explanation was helpful.  In other words, get the customer talking again!

So here is a test for you.  What do you say when the customer tells you, “Your price is too high?”  My clients tell me it’s the toughest one they face, but it’s really very simple to address, and we’ll take it on in our next post.

Remember:  Think Like Your Customer!

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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