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The Power of Consultative Selling in B2B: Strategies & Benefit

Discover how consultative selling can transform your B2B sales approach and elevate your results.

Most sales organizations and their sales forces believe they use a consultative approach. When you ask what makes them consultative, the common answers are “asking questions,” followed by “not using any pressure tactics.” While asking questions is important in consultative selling, most sales reps’ questions don’t rise to the level of being consultative. Most of the questions sales reps ask are closed-ended, something that reveals a lack of consultation. To address the second point, avoiding pressure does not mean your approach rises to the level of being consultative.

Consultative Selling Attributes

There are several attributes that are present in consultative selling, but two in particular prepare you to sell using a consultative sales approach. Without these two attributes, you will struggle to be a consultative salesperson.

Building Domain Expertise for B2B Sales

The first attribute necessary for consultative selling is domain expertise. The acquisition of domain expertise takes time and experience, but it will allow you to see what other salespeople can’t see, due to a lack of time in their industry and too few experiences. For the last five years, I have implored salespeople who are serious about their careers and their sales goals to become experts and authorities in their industry. Domain expertise will also require you to be an expert on your client’s problems and the decisions they must make to solve problems or improve their results.

Consultative Selling through Research and Reading

You and I live in what is called the post-literate society. This trend started long before there was TikTok. This trend started with the television, which caused people to read a lot less and stare at a screen for hours. What has changed are the screens.

If you want to be a consultative salesperson, you will need to read. Reading is important to a consultative selling approach, which is based on the major sales strategy of using information disparity. You can think it of as being able to say, “I know something you don’t know.” If you want to learn more about how to use information disparity go here.

In the first quarter of 2024, my One-Up Book Club read five books. Each of these books allowed readers to have a perspective about the future, as well as what their clients may need to do to succeed in the future that seems to accelerate ever faster. Research and reading will differentiate you from your many competitors who don’t read.

Effective Consultative Sales Strategies

There are many more strategies you might use in a consultative selling approach. For our purposes here, we will look at two of the most important for consultative selling, but know there are other strategies available to you. You can find several in Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative.

Mastering Open-Ended Questions in Consultative Selling

If you observe salespeople selling, you might be surprised by how many closed-ended questions they ask and how few open-ended questions. Even though you have done your research and reading, you will still need to ask your client open-ended questions. The reason you ask open-ended questions in a consultative sales approach is to better understand the nature of their problem, their assumptions, their experiences, and what they know, and what they are not yet aware of. A good consultant will ask several questions to diagnose the client’s challenges before providing the advice and recommendations that will help the client to dispatch their problem and ensure they succeed in producing the better results they need.

Delivering Value through Advice and Recommendations

The average salesperson sitting across from their contact and their stakeholders will not provide any advice outside of buying their solution from their company. While that might seem like advice to the average salesperson, it is quite the opposite of consultative selling. In a consultative approach, you will offer your client the advice and recommendations they need to make an important change or achieve the strategic outcome they are pursuing. If you want to test whether you are a consultative salesperson, you might count the number of times you provide your client with information they were missing before you showed up in their conference room. You may also count the number of times you provide them with your advice, as well as the recommendations you offered your sales champion or decision-maker.

Consultative Selling for Success in the Modern B2B Landscape

Here at thesalesblog.com, we believe that the future of B2B sales will belong to the salespeople who we describe as being One-Up, which is our way of suggesting they have greater knowledge and experience than their prospects and their clients. The average sales leader and sales manager may not yet recognize that having their sales reps ask the client about their problem is a way to introduce their solution. There is no doubt your solution is excellent and more than capable of solving the client’s problem, but you must take time to help educate your client about their problems without pitching too early.

In this environment, winning deals means working through the decision the client needs to make to be able to move forward to their better results. The consultative selling approach is what allows you to serve your clients by guiding them to their desired outcomes. You do this by providing the education and advice to achieve them. If you want to improve your sales approach and win more deals, go here to explore our B2B sales training programs.

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


Sales 2024 One-Up
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 26, 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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