Challenges in Consultative Selling

Consultative sales process calls for putting yourself into customer’s shoes and understanding his/her problems, needs and expectations to be able to design and build a solution that meets with all of the requirements and expectations of the customer.

A consultative salesman plays the role of a consultant to the customer rather than a salesman who is just selling his product.

The consultative sales process differs from the traditional sales process in many ways. The salesman gets an in depth knowledge of the customer’s business as well as a fair understanding of the customer, his business environment etc.

Selling to the customer using consultative sales process calls for building and managing a relationship with the customer. In the process of managing the relationship, the consultative salesman has got to learn to understand and manage the emotions of the customer too. In most cases, the customers actions and reactions to buying turns out to be a mixture of practical need based as well as emotional decision. Human emotions always play an important role in every activity and this holds good in the case of consultative sales process too.

Closing the sales process after sales presentation and negotiations calls for obtaining the customer’s commitment or confirmation to purchase from you. This critical phase needs to be developed and managed carefully by the salesman. You will have taken time to discuss the solution proposed with your customer, answered every question, handled every objection and managed every concern expressed by the customer and reached a consensus with the customer with regard to your solution.

The customer will go through the negotiations stage too with expert handling and guiding by you the sales manager. However when it comes to making that commitment, most customers tend to postpone or take a back seat.

Customers may have a lot of reasons that prompt them to abstain from making the commitment. The reasons can vary from a personality issue to, lack of confidence, their own fears and anxiety etc.

There can also be other factors such as internal organizational politics or environment that can hinder decision making by the customer. These are the soft issues that you as the salesman will need to learn to handle and still reach your goal of getting the customer to close the deal with the commitment.

As a consultative salesman you will need to develop not only your sales skills, but more importantly people’s management and emotions management skills. Apart from your technical abilities, product knowledge and professional skills, it is your soft skills that aid you in closing a deal successfully with your customer.

In most cases, it is the customers who shy away from making the commitment. However there are several situations where in the inexperienced salesmen fail to get the customer to sign on the dotted lined. This happens simply because they forget that they have to ask the customer to commit.

After presenting the solution you will go on to building consensus with the client and get him to accept your solution.

Then comes the price negotiations phase. Once you have settled the pricing issues, it is your duty as the salesman leading the process to ask the customer for a commitment. Your inability or inexperience in being able to ask the customer for commitment can become a reason for the deal to fizzle out.

Unless the customer is ready and in a hurry to get your solution implemented or has an urgent need for it, he is likely to put off his decision to commit to you. This is therefore the most important test for the consultative salesman.

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