How Consultative Selling Can Help Your Business

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Almost every organization has their own sales methodology. It may not have a name and your sales team may not follow its tenets religiously, but there’s likely a methodology present if you look closely.

So, after thinking about it for a moment, how does your team sell?

If there’s little method to the madness, let us suggest a methodology that could help convert more of those leads into ironclad sales: consultative selling.

For those plugged into the business community over the last few decades, this term will likely sound familiar. The phrase first hit the scene back in the 1970s with the publication of the book Consultative Selling: The Hanan Formula for High-Margin Sales at High Levels, penned by author Mark Hanan.

While the concept has been around for the better part of forty years, its overarching principles still hold significant value when applied to the sales process.

So, what does consultative selling look like and how can it help your organization meet its sales goals?

Defining Consultative Selling

The primary principle that makes consultative selling different from other sales approach is its staunch focus on the customer and their needs.

HubSpot aptly describes this concept: “The consultative sales process is primarily focused on the experience that the potential customer (the lead) feels and sees during their interactions with you. It’s about the how you find ways to provide your leads with value and make it all about them. Not your product, your business, your numbers. The consultative sales process is most especially not about you.”

Essentially, the focus is entirely on the customer’s pain points and needs rather than hawking a product or service. While this may seem counterintuitive at first glance, selling solutions to your leads is a softer (and often more effective) approach. And that’s the first way it can broadly help your business.

Placing the Focus on Solutions

Consultative sales is also commonly known as solution sales. And that’s exactly what sales people are now working toward — learning a customer’s issues, and selling them your product or service based on how it can meet their needs.

That inverts many sales processes. Rather than browbeating customers to buy into your product or service through elevator pitches or long sales speeches, you listen to their pain points. Sales people must listen first and then offer genuine insights. Offering canned answers to customers will make sales people come off as disingenuous. But truly listening and offering tailored tools based on what you’re hearing often encourages leads to take the leap and invest. When they feel you’ve invested the time to get to know their needs, they may be more likely to invest their dollars in your solution.

Sales People Become Experts

When sales people are assisting customers and listening to their concerns, it’s crucial to know the company’s product/service inside and out. You can’t effectively offer what your company sells as a solution if you don’t know the ins and outs of your product.

Through the consultative selling process, your sales people are forced to become experts on your company and what it sells. And having a plethora of product experts on hand is never, ever a negative thing.

Better Align Products With Customer Needs

When this selling method is implemented properly, your organization will have access to a wealth of data on prospects. You’ll have a clear idea of the wants, needs and pain points of your ideal customer (and what that ideal customer looks like from a demographic standpoint).

When the sales team is constantly receiving customer feedback on what they’re looking for, it’s far easier to pass that feedback back to managers.

And in the spirit of continuous improvement, business leadership can realign product offerings or create new services that better meet the needs of the customers you’re targeting. Whether that’s changing marketing tactics, tweaking branding or brainstorming new services that help customers.

The Bottom Line

Consultative selling, when implemented properly, obviously has numerous benefits. The aforementioned reasons are just a few of the ways businesses can profit from this concept.

If your sales team is on the prowl for a new sales methodology, consultative selling is worth considering.

 

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ExhaleMarketingHow Consultative Selling Can Help Your Business

5 Stats To Help You Capture More Leads

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capture more leadsOk, we admit it, we’ve got a thing for data. There is something about statistics that can be incredibly alluring, especially when those numbers point you in the direction of better business decisions.

Today, we thought we’d pull together a few of our favourite stats to help you capture more leads. These are incredible tidbits of insight that can help you strategize a more effective marketing campaign.

Content creation is ranked as “the single most effective Search Engine Optimization technique”. (MarketingSherpa 2013) Creating a resource library, online articles, newsletter or blog will increase your visibility and web ranking which means more business.

Companies with active blogs receive 97% more leads. (Content+ 2013) Need to generate more opportunities and discover new potential customers? Starting a blog will create more interest and dramatically increase your results.

“90% of people searching for your product or service online take action within 24 hours”. (MobiThink) If you are missing a website or are not mobile and search engine optimized you are virtually invisible to today’s customers. For those who think that Facebook is a site… think again. Not everyone has a Facebook account, which means you’re losing a large audience!

Inbound Marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound. (Hubspot) Put down the marketing shotgun, it’s time to take the new approach of pulling in customers – web design, search optimization, blogs, email marketing… you get the idea.

7 in 10 people say they “made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior week!” (Blue Kangaroo Study If you are hoping to increase repeat sales or encourage that first purchase, email coupons are a cost-effective and proven method.

 

Have a few of your own favourite stats?  We’d love to hear them!

 

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ExhaleMarketing5 Stats To Help You Capture More Leads

Top Networking Tips: 5 Ways to To Become a Great Networker

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istock-4595857373666-Networking goes hand-in- hand with success in the business world.

So what do you do if you’re a shy business professional, riddled with anxiety at the thought of a networking and mingle event? We have a few top networking tips which we guarantee will help you out!

Tip #1:
Realization: Know you’re not alone!  Networking (and other social events which put you in the spotlight) is listed in the top 5 phobias people have.  When you really think about it, most people would get antsy at the thought of walking into a room full of strangers who they are expected to build an instant rapport with.

Application: When you realize the person you’re chatting with is probably also trying to calm down the butterflies in their stomach, you’ll find yourself beginning to relax. If you need an extra bit of help, try the old technique of taking a deep breath, hold for a moment and exhale.

Tip #2:
Realization: If you’re not an extrovert (outspoken, social butterfly) you’re probably like most introverts  —  a fantastic listener – use this!  At networking events, we are inundated with sales stories and elevator pitches, yet it is rare that we meet a great listener.  In fact, when you do come across someone who really seems to be paying attention to what you’re saying and not simply prepping mentally to verbally dump on  you their own pitch, it’s a relief.

Application:  Use you’re great listening skills to your advantage!  Not only will the person you’re connecting with be able to tell you’re really paying attention,  you’ll also be able to make mental notes.  These little treasures will come in handy when you decide to connect with them later, allowing you to create a custom reply instead of an obviously generic follow-up.

Tip #3:
Realization:  It’s not a popularity contest. Nor is it a race.  A successful networking event is not measured in how many people you connect with or whether you’ve been able to “work the entire room”.  Instead it is about the quality of the connections made – potential partnerships, possible cross-promotions, prospective suppliers, opportunities for sales and even future friendships.

Application:  Don’t rush and put away any thoughts that your success is measured on how many business cards you’ve collected.  Adopt an alternative measurement “did you make any connections that have budding possibilities?”  Even 1 will make a difference to your business, brand and bottom line. Not everything is a numbers game.

Tip #4:
Realization:  No one likes the hard sell, and an obvious elevator pitch is… well.. honestly boring.  People prefer authenticity & sincerity, they love real life stories and anytime we laugh with a friend, colleague or stranger we build a little bond.

Application:  Rather than go into automatic mode, — robotically stating your memorized 30 second overview — try sharing a story about your business, or a recent achievement.   Even better, use your listening skills (remember point number 2) and encourage your new contact to share their business first, then adjust your business intro to directly relate to their enterprise or better still see if you can present a way which helps with their expressed challenges. This is the essence of “new selling” — giving, sharing, providing solutions– so much better than the old school hard sell.

Tip #5:
Realization:  Networking doesn’t end when the event closes down, in fact the gathering is only the beginning.  All of those business cards you’ve collected and new connections made will not nurture themselves, just like  a garden they need to be cultivated.

Application:  Within 48 hours of the event follow-up – send a friendly relaxed email to all of your new connections.  If possible avoid a cold salesy letter. Make it a personalized note.  By connecting within 48 hours of the event you are still fresh in their mind and the leads are what we call warm, if you wait longer they begin to turn cold until you are once again the equivalent of a cold call.

Apply these 5 tips and we can guarantee this will make a difference at your next networking event.  Have any of your own special tips for networking?  We’d love to hear them!  Feel free to share them in our comments section.

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ExhaleMarketingTop Networking Tips: 5 Ways to To Become a Great Networker