Consultative Selling - New Approach to Selling

Being a Salesman is not everyone’s cup of tea. Salesmanship doesn’t come naturally to one and all. There are few who have it in them to become star salesmen. Just like leadership, salesmanship is an inborn tendency with some. In the current times, the concept of selling has under gone tremendous changes thanks to the development and technological advances on fronts.

Every product or service that is available in the market is marketed and sold to the customers. However the process of selling is quite different from selling a fridge to selling a vacation or a car. Each product or service is designed to suit customer’s specific need and depending upon the product or service category, the appropriate sales channel be it dealer sales, show room sales, retail sales etc are adopted. Irrespective of the mode of selling, there is always a critical role that is played by the salesman to help the customers through the pre sales process. Salesman actually becomes the catalyst in the pre sales process of the customers by helping him identify study, compare, see demos and finally make that critical decision to buy the particular product. To a large extent the salesman does play an important role similar to that of an influencer.

Apart from the traditional sales approach, a new way of selling called as “Consultative Selling” has gained ground in the past two decades. Consultative selling refers to a sales approach and an attitude of the salesmen who do not try to sell their company’s product or service to the customers. Instead, they engage the customers to understand all about Customer’s business, identify their problems, needs as well as expectations, forecast their future needs and requirements and build a solution offer using their products or service. Thus the customer and the salesman partner in arriving at the exact need, specification of the requirements wherein the salesman can get his product development team to build customized solutions if needed. The best advantage of this system is that the customer not only gets the solution but the salesman and the selling Organization takes on the responsibility for implementation and making the solution work for the customer.

Consultative selling has been adapted by most of the industries today. From insurance companies and wealth management companies to hospitals and travel planners, all are engaging the customers and offering tailor made solutions to suit each one’s needs. In the industrial segment however, the best usage of this approach can be found in marketing of soft wares. You will seldom find Organisations selling readymade software off the shelf barring a few. Most softwares are customized to suit each industry and sold through consultative selling. Take the case of Adobe. Their software applications are sold across various industry segments from pre press, graphic design, product design studios to desktop publishing and other media related industries. The product is sold by different sales groups that work with different industries. Each of these group of salesmen have the in depth knowledge of the particular industry that they are targeting and hence are able to understand their customer’s business and position their product suitably. The same is the case with most of the software products be it financial management software, ERP or health care etc. The Organizations have the generic product and customize the same to suit specific markets and customer’s needs. In such situations, only the consultative selling approach works best. The customers can at best define their business needs. It is for the sales persons to tabulate customer needs, detail the design template and prototype to present a total solution to the customer. The salesmen work with the product design team experts to arrive at the technology specifications and other requirements for the project. The customer then chooses to go with the entire solution as advised by the chosen Seller Organization.

Today the power of consultative selling has been realized by every Organization and even the traditional product selling Organizations too are adapting this method and training their sales force to develop the consultative mode and attitude. For quite some time industries have become customer oriented in their total outlook. On the same lines, Organizations have now begun to focus on consultative selling approach to talk to their prospective customers.


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