The 5-Step Consultative Sales Process That Has Stood The Test Of Time – Video Blog

The art of selling has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, and the way that sales people and business owners now prospect and sell to the customers has moved on significantly from the one-way sales monologue and cold calling techniques that used to reign.

Over the last several decades, the sales industry has become focused on the consultative selling approach – and this is still as important today as it has been over the last 30 years. Your buyers still need you to provide that consultation of their wants and needs when you go into a sales meeting with them, so we as sales people must understand how vital the consultative selling process is to our continued success with our clients and customers. Watch the short video below to find out more about the 5 step consultative sales process that has stood the test of time.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

www.mtdsalestraining.com

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Getting Beneath The Surface Of Your Prospects’ Beliefs

My team and I have sat in on many visits with sales people, listening to great examples (and not so great!) of consultancy sessions, where the client has specific needs and the salesperson deals with those needs.

Recently, I came across a sales technique that had me thinking about whether those salespeople could really have dug deeper to discover needs and uncover opportunities.

What we find is that buyers often have long-held beliefs that drive their decision-making philosophies. The things they say and do are ingrained because they have been used for so long in so many situations.

These belief systems may have worked well in the past, but with the new global economic situation and the changes in culture we have all experienced, these beliefs may not now be up-to-date and might not be as beneficial to them as they were before.

So what can you do to encourage them to think differently about their business and maybe go down a different decision-making direction?

Well, you need to be getting beneath the surface of your prospects’ beliefs, by asking questions they may never have thought of before.

Let’s say your prospect has the opinion that their customers will not change their point of view, so we have to give them the same products as we have over the past few years. In other words, their beliefs are that consistency in product offering is the only way to sell to their current customer base.

Here are four ways that you can get beneath the surface and dig deeper on this belief:

1) Ask, Is this belief worth challenging? Does it get in the way of their business growing?

2) Is this a universally-held belief? Are there examples of how this belief has been changed and shown to be not so beneficial? If so, what can we learn from these counter-examples?

3) How does this belief serve the interests of the prospect? What do they gain from believing it?

4) What alternatives could there be to this belief? What advantages would there be in having different beliefs?

By answering these questions, you get a differing viewpoint of how the business could be in the future. You highlight situations where there have been changes in other companies, and you determine the results that those businesses have enjoyed.

Now, what you DON’T do is try to change that belief system in your prospect by telling them how others have got results by doing things differently. A long-held belief will not be changed instantaneously simply by seeing how others have got different results.

The prospect will simply assume that their situation is different to theirs and, if they changed, they would not get the same results.

No, the way to dig beneath the surface of your prospects’ beliefs is to

a) get them to look at the current results they are getting with the belief. Then,

b) ask if these are the best results they could get. Then,

c) determine if they want any other type of result. If they do,

d) ask what would have to change for them to get that result.

These questions dig to the root of the belief system and help the individual themselves determine if changes are needed. Even if they have great respect for you, their beliefs will remain the same UNLESS THEY CHANGE THEM THEMSELVES.

That’s the key to any change. You get the other person to see the value of the change, so they start on the self-motivational change themselves. What you hope the prospect will conclude by going through the above process is that their current belief is worth challenging, that there are examples of other companies that have tried different things and got better results, that it would serve their better interests if they changes that mindset, and that the alternative beliefs would be better in the long run.

Use these ideas with your strategic accounts and you may well find that you are quickly facing a different mindset, one that will drive better choices in the future.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image by The Path Traveler at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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And The Moral of the Story Is…

In tribute to the many sales managers, trainers, directors and coaches who are always in need of more creative, effective and memorable ways to relay sales training concepts, I am starting a new series called, “And the Moral of the Story is…”

Start your weekend by looking here every Friday morning at 10:00 am for some entertaining sales stories.  Like “King Kong’s Got Nothing On Me,” from Memories of a Sales Manager, some stories are funny, some are serious, but all have a strong sales message!

If you miss one, not to worry.  You can find them all in the new MTD Blog category, “Sales Stories.”  First up…The Sunday Ham

The Sunday Ham
One Sunday morning, a young mother began preparing the usual big Sunday family dinner as her young daughter looked on.  After unwrapping the huge ham shank, which was star of the show, she promptly placed it on the cutting counter, grabbed a giant meat cleaver and with one powerful, almost vicious swing, hacked off the tip, the triangle edge of the ham.

Startled, the daughter asked, “Mom, why did you do that?!”

The mother confidently replied, “Oh, it’s ok, Honey.  You have to do that because it makes the ham come out better.  It cooks better and tasted yummy!”

“Really?”  The young inquisitive child, asked, “How?  Why does it make the ham taste better?”

After a moment of deep thought, the mother replied, “You know, Sweetie, I’m not really sure.  I learned how to cook the ham from your grandmother, let me call her and ask.”  Moments later with nana on the phone, the mother asked, “Mom, you know when you make the ham and you always chop off that shank tip, why do you do that?”

The grandmother quickly and confidently responded, “Oh, well, it comes out better that way, child, you know that.”

“Yes, I know Mom, but why, how?”

Also puzzled, the grandmother said, “I don’t really know.  I learned how to cook that delicious ham from your grand, let’s ask her.”

Now on the telephone in a three-way mini family conference, the great grandmother, and three generations of family asked the question, “Mom, you know when you used to cook the ham and you would always cut off that corner shank tip?  Why did you do that?”

The great wise grand, now in her nineties, paused and matter-of-factly replied,

“Well, I had to do that…because the ham was always just too darn big to fit in that little pot I had back then.”

And the Moral Of the Story Is…
Just because you have been doing something one way for a long time does not make it right.  Remember that much of what you know about professional selling has been “passed down” from one generation to the next.  Your sales manager learned from his sales manager, who learned from her supervisor and so on.

The problem is not that those tried and true sales techniques of the past no longer work.  The problem is that those prospective buyers of the past no longer exist.  Today’s modern consumer is far more educated, sophisticated and sales savvy than ever before.  They also have a worldwide database of information at their fingertips with the Internet.

Check out my video, “Why the Modern Day Buyer Has Changed,” and if you have not yet done so, download my latest report, “The Sales Person’s Crisis,” below.

The fact is today’s prospective customer has changed from those of the past and your entire selling paradigm must change to keep pace.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

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4 Things Clients Want From You Every Time

The days are long gone since you could pitch up at a client’s office, tell him about your products and services, do a little negotiating and close the deal. Today, the emphasis is on building relationships, long-term and mutual.

To do this, the salesperson needs to earn the right to continue the discussions, build integrity, establish reliability and offer the confidence to understand and recommend solutions.

How can you do this in today’s environment? Well, clients are looking for these things:

* Up-to-date knowledge of their industry and their business. There is simply no excuse these days for turning up ignorant of the prospect’s business. Asking the question “So, tell me what you do”, is the biggest warning signal to the prospect, because it means you haven’t done your homework and it shows that the prospect would have to do all the background work for you if he did start working with you. The message you are sending is you are more interested in your product than their company, and the prospect will wonder what else they will have to do to help you out.

* A readiness to exchange ideas between your company and theirs. Clients are looking for support mechanisms between you, so they can ascertain how the support they can get from you will mean greater market opportunities for them. The more you can identify the correlation between their company and yours, the greater the chance they will consider working with you.

* A long-term alliance between you and them. This alliance will achieve a great amount for the client, and that’s where your emphasis in the relationship should be made. If you just rely on transactions, your products and services will be commoditised by the client, and you’ll end up talking price and discounts. Forge an alliance with all parts of their business, and you open up relationships that will survive price issues in the long run.

* Suggestions on how they can improve their business and discover new markets. If you can become their ally and help them see how your products can open up new markets or build on existing ones, they will see you as a preferred partner and approach you for advice, guidance and recommendations when the going gets tough. You’ve definitely build up a good reputation when that happens!

Build your strategic plans with your prospects and they will soon become loyal clients.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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3 Steps To Converting To Consultative Selling

Many salespeople have heard the reasoning behind why they should be concentrating on consultative selling, and may have even tried to achieve that end goal.

But many more have wondered how they actually start on the road to consultative selling, so here are some ideas to get the ball rolling and the confidence flowing:

Firstly, don’t talk about price or cost to your prospect; talk about investment. Price is a cost and has a negative value in the mind of the buyer. Customers want to pay as little as possible and still get great value. On the other hand, investment signifies a return on that investment and customers will gladly pay out to receive a larger return in exchange. Get the prospect thinking about how they can invest in your services, and the whole conversation changes.

Secondly, talk about your product/service as monitory value applied to the customer’s business. You can assign values to benefits such as reduced lead times or down time so that the customer knows exactly what value they will get from securing a deal. You can also add the positive side of the equation, too, so the prospect will see how achieving their goals could be measured in monitory terms.

Then, change your focus from standalone sales to a relationship of recurring sales. A customers profit-improvement proposal should not be a one-time event. Instead, you should aim for multiple streams of new business that can be predicted. Once you can prove that your products and services improve profit reliably, over and over again, then you becomea real partner to the customer.

If you follow these steps effectively, there should be a solid movement towards you offering a consultative approach and mind-set to your customer base.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Become More Collaborative And Consultative

Our buyers have changed over the past few years. Those who were around in the early part of this century have either been replaced, moved on or changed the way they buy.

Selling in the same way as we always have means we miss out on opportunities, because the buyer who bought from us with that style doesn’t exist any more.

Today’s buyers are more sales savvy, have different needs and offer more challenges than ever before. What can we do to meet these new challenges?

I believe there are three key skills you can develop that will increase your chances of gaining more business:

Become more collaborative and consultative in your role

Become more proactive with your best customers

Widen the difference between you and your competition

Let’s take these in order:

Becoming more collaborative and consultative means identifying how you can build and maintain a relationship with your buyers, partnering with their organisations. Collaboration means working with people inside and outside your company to create close working relationships with people who can help their businesses thrive in the current economic climate.

By collaborating you will not only learn about the products your customers sell, but also be able to use that expertise to better serve your customer as a true subject matter expert, not just a knowledgeable sales person.

You need to understand and demonstrate the real impact you and your product will have on the customer and their objectives.

By becoming a collaborative resource your customer will not only see more value in your meetings, but begin to rely on you as a source of valuable knowledge about the industry and the processes they need to deal with day to day. This allows you to move the discussion from the product or service and onto areas that will make a real difference to the way your customer markets their services to their customers.

Get into your buyer’s world, and understand their market through their eyes. This gets you more engaged with the customer, offering more than just the products and services in your portfolio

Secondly, you need to become more proactive. We have often talked about why buyers buy…to relieve the pain of the current situation or grow towards an opportunity in the future. Without that movement, most buyers will stick with what they currently have, without realising the opportunities they are missing, or are willing to tolerate what they know is inefficient. Some prospects have stopped looking because they believe there is no alternative, or no affordable alternative.

As a proactive seller you need to understand and focus on the fact there is a viable cost effective alternative with a real return on the investment they have to make. You need to focus on the cause, not the symptom.

This helps you develop a solution that the prospect maybe had not considered before, offering a direction and a way out that will assist their business to move in a direction that they hadn’t seen or though of before. This is where the true partnership starts to develop and the prospect becomes a customer or client that comes to rely on you as a solution to their problems.

Next we look at widening the difference between you and your competition. In my ‘Sales Person’s Crisis’ Book (you can download your free copy below), I talk about how much more knowledgable customers have become these days, and how important it is that you take your products away from being classed as a commodity. Many buyers we talk to find it difficult to differentiate all the services and products that are available to them.

So what can you do?

You can start by building value in the customer’s eyes before you start to sell. This may well involve taking the product out of the equation and differentiating by what you as the sales consultant can offer that the customer would miss without you. This means your approach and process become the differentiators. What value does the customer get by dealing purely with you?

How much do you know about the customer’s business? Their industry? Their products? Their customers? Their competitors?

How much more can you help them with than their current suppliers can, so they come to see you as a business partner rather than just a salesperson, like all the others?

If you can consider yourself as being collaborative, consultative and proactive, there will be every reason for your client to see you as a business partner of real value to them, now and in the future.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Symbiotic Selling – Ever Heard Of It?

 

Have you heard of symbiotic selling?

Symbiosis is a cooperative relationship between two dissimilar organisms in which both organisms receive beneficial reinforcement (mutualism).

Like a shark and a remora fish. The remora will enter the shark’s mouth and clean out debris, getting food and protection. The shark gets clean teeth and gills, allowing it to swim in new waters more efficiently. That’s in the biological world. What about our world?

A cooperative relationship between the sales person and a customer is the foundation for building a profitable partnership.  Just like the relationship between the shark and remora, you need the customer and he or she needs you.

Symbiotic selling harmonises your products and services with your customer’s needs. It delivers a level of service that makes you indispensable to your customer. It creates a relationship with your customer that is far beyond a transactional arrangement. And it develops a loyalty to your brand that is hard to break.

How will the customer benefit if you establish a symbiotic relationship with them?

Just as the shark will be able to swim in new waters, your customer will be able to enter new markets and identify new opportunities.

How will you benefit from the arrangement?

You will enjoy the special relationship that preferred supplier status will create. And you’ll help develop new markets for yourself as your customer will refer you to prospects you wouldn’t have known about without your new relationship.

By building this close consultative partnership with your customers, you reduce the emphasis of pricing for your products and services, as your client becomes an advocate of your company. This develops trust and builds mutual respect.

Help your customers swim in new waters. Become their remora by offering the kind of service your competition can’t match. Then watch the business relationship (and your profits) grow.

Happy selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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5 Top Tips For Successful Consultative Selling

For me, no matter what you sell, a consultative selling approach will get the job done.

Here are my top 5 key tips to make sure that your selling interactions are more effective:

CONSULTATIVE SELLING TIP # 1
Have The Mindset Of A Doctor

I want you to take your salesperson’s hat off for a moment and instead put your doctors hat on.

Like with any doctors consultation they will ask you lots of questions before writing out a prescription – you need to use the same approach.

CONSULTATIVE SELLING TIP # 2
Find Out The Key Drivers For Change

In order of importance your buyers will take action more on:

1. PAIN
2. FEAR
3. PLEASURE

So while performing your doctor’s diagnosis bear this in mind. You’ll want to uncover the pain, the fears and the pleasures from your buyers.

Only then will they be “motivated” to take action.

CONSULTATIVE SELLING TIP # 3
Focus On Them And Not On Winning The Deal

If the need for the commission and sale is greater than your desire to help the buyer then this will show.

Come from the mindset that you are there to help them and get what’s best for them rather than doing everything you can to “win” the deal.

CONSULTATIVE SELLING TIP # 4
Don’t Be Afraid To Push Back

Sometimes, your buyers may not be open to what you are asking. They might be difficult to get on with and might be withholding information.

If they are like this then beware.

My experience tells me that they might have already made up their mind on who they are going with and are just using you for either:

1. Further education and ideas
2. A comparison
3. Company policy states they need to get quotes from 3 different vendors

Don’t be afraid to push back and walk away if it’s not right.

CONSULTATIVE SELLING TIP # 5
Appreciate Different Buyer Types

Don’t treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself.

Yes, that’s right!

Don’t treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself!

Instead, treat them as they would like to be treated!

Some of your buyers will be very analytical and detailed, others will not have a moment to spare.

How will you sell to these different personality types?

It’s not a one size fits all approach.

Some buyers will need facts and figures – the detail.

Other buyers will need a high level overview and the bottom line in a “no fluff” way.

————————————

Consultative selling done in the right way is a very powerful approach.

Keep the methodology simple and you won’t go far wrong.

If you remember nothing about it at all and your mind goes blank then just approach your sales interactions like a doctor would in meeting with a patient.

And remember…….

Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice!

Happy Selling

Sean

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Blog

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