By Doug Rooker, Vice President of Sales
I read with interest Nelson Griswold’s article, Do or Die: Creating A Consultative Practice, Building The Foundation For The 21st Century Firm With Voluntary Benefits. In it, he detailed a sales call that was transformed when he went from selling his enrollment services to using consultative selling – and in doing so, became a top producer at his firm. The story illustrates the secret to – and the power of – consultative selling. He believes, and I concur, the long-term winners will be the agencies that transition from transactional selling to a consultative selling approach or style, which is a hallmark of what many of us are calling the 21st century agency.
In case this is a new term to you, consultative selling is acutely about selling the outcome, the result of buying your solution – product or service. According to Mack Hana, who 40 years ago wrote Consultative Selling, that outcome you are selling should be more profit for the client, an enhanced bottom line. In other words, in consultative selling, don’t show the prospect how they can help YOU make more money, show them how you can help THEM make more money.
The best way to think about this is to work backwards, drawing a direct line from their profit to your product or service solution that will help them realize that profit. As a consultant, you apply tools and techniques to resolve process problems to improve your prospect’s profits.
Many of us know we need to be more consultative in our selling approach, but actually doing it is another thing entirely. Griswold shared four steps to consultative selling:
1. Identify a pain point
2. Agitate the prospect’s pain
3. Get conceptual agreement
4. Offer your solution
Of particular importance, Griswold noted, is that you only accomplish each of the aforementioned steps using questions. Why? The person who asks the questions is in control of the appointment. But, be careful, if you are doing all the talking, you are not in control of the SALE.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus wrote, “We have two ears and one mouth so we may listen more and talk less.