Consultative selling is a different approach to selling not rooted in product features and benefits, but in how customers can reach solutions to the challenges they face.
SiteOne March 6, 2018
The art of selling today is not rooted in the features and benefits of a product, but in how we can help our customers reach solutions to the challenges they face. It's called consultative selling.
Consultative selling can only occur when we make valiant efforts to understand the situation and subsequent needs of our customers. It is helping our customers “see” a potential solution, perhaps through a lens they have never peered before.
Begin to approach any sales situation first based on what you know is right. Simply try to present the inalienable truths that exist for the service(s) you provide. For instance, with sprinkler irrigation we know that high pressure can wreak havoc on systems. We know that different soils, soil textures, slopes, and climates dramatically influence our ability to deliver the right uniformity of water. We know that design spacing, wind, and climate all are extremely important factors for a golf course superintendent to consider if he or she is going to be successful in the turfgrass management of their course. Yet, when you look at the products and techniques being used today in golf course applications, and compare them to the basic truths that exist in irrigation, you begin to understand that how we are approaching irrigation systems is the way that the world tells us we must instead of stopping and saying, “Let's do what's right and truly in the best interest of the customer.”
Often during the busy season, we hear from valued professional irrigation contractors “I can’t handle another lead,” or “I can't get back to people, it’s just too busy.” In all, these are customer service situations. We need to start by believing that any action we take transpires because it’s the right thing to do: calling a customer back fast, letting a customer know you appreciate their business, and developing solutions to a customer’s problem. If we let the forces around us dictate how we act, react and handle situations, then we will always have a crutch to lean upon. However, if we start with basic principles of what we know is right, and then we pursue what is right with a specific end in mind, we will enjoy greater success, profitability and maintain the long-term value of our enterprises.
Pursuing what is right in your sales efforts, and taking upon yourself a consultative selling role can help you increase your profits. Perhaps the biggest reason why is that you are approaching the situation from the customer’s perspective, trying to determine what the customer wants and the best possible way to deliver the right solution. If you believe that every job must first be approached from the price perspective, then you’re putting yourself in a position where the only way to win is by lowering your price to the detriment of your bottom line. You’ve stopped searching for customer solutions.
A very simple example is two professional irrigation contractors bidding on the same job. The first contractor makes a presentation based on “making sure I'm priced competitive to get the job.” By not even pursuing with the customer “the ways things could be or should be” the first contractor simply explains that he’ll just have the rotors which water the turf spray onto the flowers, and the customer will get the same job done at a lower cost. The second contractor takes a moment or two and tells the homeowner the way things could be done, and how, when those things are done right, the customer will be able to have more control over the irrigation system, healthier plants and turf, and a better irrigation system. The second contractor in this real example got the job, for a significantly higher price. Once the customer was shown and explained “how things could be” and that for a few dollars more they were able to get a system that did the job right, the consultative sales process was complete.
As sprinkler irrigation continues to reach a larger slice of the American population pie, every year the pressures to provide more at lower cost gains momentum. It is in our interest, the customer’s interest, and the industry’s interest to put more emphasis on consultative selling. In the example of irrigation systems, they are not only hard work to install, but it takes knowledge and expertise to design and install them based on what is right.
Evaluate your sales process, and the products and services you offer your customers. Are you providing and implementing what you know is right, or are you forgetting to take into account if you are doing what is in the best interest of your customers?