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Mastering Consultative Sales Training: Strategies for Success

In today's ever-changing business landscape, mastering consultative sales training can be the key to unlocking your sales team's potential and driving success.

A large number of sales organizations have regressed to a transactional sales approach. This comes at a time when buyers and decision makers are uncertain and lack the confidence to make a decision to change. These sales organizations would do better to adopt a consultative approach, one that would empower their clients to act and improve their results.

In this article, you will acquire an understanding of consultative selling, the core components of consultative sales training, how to design an effective consultative sales training program, and how to implement consultative training.

What Is Consultative Sales?

Consultative selling is an approach where the salesperson provides their clients with counsel, advice, and recommendations. Most B2B sales organizations are unaware of what their clients need from the salesperson, so they do not use a consultative approach.

The Vital Role of Consultative Sales Training

Consultative sales training is a form of B2B sales training. It can transform sales teams by helping them create the certainty and confidence their contacts need to make a rare decision to change. This training also tends to improve client relationships by providing contacts with valuable information and insights.

Understanding Consultative Sales

To understand consultative sales, it’s helpful to understand how it differs from traditional sales. Then, to master consultative strategies, you must learn the essential principles of and core components of consultative selling.

Traditional versus Consultative Sales Approaches

The difference between a traditional and a consultative sales approach is that the traditional is often transactional, as the salesperson is mainly concerned with proving their company and their solution. The consultative sales approach prioritizes filling in the gaps in the contact’s knowledge and experience.

For consultative sales training to be effective it will need to enable the sales force to use the questions, counsel, and advice that will help their contacts learn about the problems they are facing.

Three Essential Principles of Consultative Selling

The first principle of consultative selling is trust. Too few recognize that personal rapport does little to create trust. In a consultative sale, you build trust by creating business rapport. It’s better to ensure your client that you have information they need than it is to try to develop a personal connection.

The second principle in consultative selling is understanding. This often involves an exploration of the client’s problem and the implications to their business and their poor results.

The third principle of consultative selling is correcting the client’s information disparity by asking high-gain questions and offering counsel, advice, and recommendations.

Core Components of Consultative Sales Training

Effective training in consultative sales must include the following core components.

Active Listening Skills

It is important that the sales force learns how to practice active listening. This can be difficult at first, as the salesperson must be fully engaged with the customer's words and the unspoken messages they are communicating. The salesperson will need a genuine interest in the client’s needs, concerns, and goals. You learn from observing non-verbal cues.

Asking the Right Questions

Your sales force will need to ask high-gain questions. These are open-ended questions that cause the contact to think deeply and address their needs, motivations, and challenges. Your questions may start with “how,” “what,” or “tell me more about.”

Solution-Based Selling

In a consultative selling approach, the salesperson will work to help the client with the solution they need. What a consultative seller does differently is that they will cause their contacts to make changes outside of their solution. This is one way to identify whether you are consultative, as an average salesperson would fear telling their client what they need to do to succeed.

Long-Term Relationships

Consultative salespeople rely on long-term relationships with contacts and clients, which give salespeople a deeper understanding of their clients’ situations. Training should include strategies for maintaining and growing customer relationships.

Designing an Effective Consultative Sales Training Program

An effective consultative sales training program requires careful consideration and design. To ensure the program is comprehensive, take the following steps.

Identify Training Needs

You may start with a gap assessment of the sales force. What tends to prevent this approach is that you will need to enable it. You will need thigh-gain questions, the advice salespeople must share with their contacts, and a way to identify the internal changes the client will need to make to produce the best results.

Develop a Curriculum

Key topics and modules include mastering the client’s problems, including the root causes. You will also include high-gain questions which also need true enablement. This curriculum will also require a grid of the advice the salesperson must have to create truly consultative sellers.

Choose the Right Training Methods

You may want to use a blended learning approach, starting with workshops, classroom training, role-playing, and e-learning. Because so many would-be salespeople live in their territory, you may have to use more of these training methods to succeed.

Implement Consultative Sales Training

You are always better off training and requiring your sales force to practice the behavioral changes the salesperson will need to master. Once they master one skill, you can enable another behavioral change. Worry less about the time it takes to master the skill or approach, and worry more about making the changes stick.

Overcome Challenges in Consultative Sales Training

You will need to deal with the resistance to change. You may also need to address salespeople who don’t believe they have the right to provide the client with their counsel or advice. Those who are conflict-averse may need more time and additional training and development.

Mastering Consultative Sales Training: Strategies for Success

Because we live in the ACDC environment (one defined by accelerating, constant, disruptive change), your clients and mine are plagued by the uncertainty that makes it more difficult to make a change as you never know when the next shoe will drop.

Leaving this article, look over these ideas and what you can do to move from a transactional approach to a truly consultative sales methodology. If you are a sales leader, and you are going to train your sales force, you would do well to train them to be consultative.

Do good work, and I’ll see you tomorrow.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 10, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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