‘Consultative selling’ is a buzzword among salespeople, but few understand how to do it, or the impact it can have on conversion and client retention.
Consultative selling means building a customized sales process and custom solutions – and that’s a time-consuming process that can involve dozens or hundreds of individual steps and questions. Yet we know that the more we can tailor our products and services to the individual needs of our prospects, the more chance we have of driving conversations, getting meetings and selling.
That’s why we sat down with David Longhini, a sales leader who builds software for customized sales solutions. We asked him to share with us how to systemize a custom sales process even if we didn’t have a top-tier CRM.
Because we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: David recommends that salespeople trigger this system long before reaching out to the prospect. In fact, it happens before you even decide to pursue the prospect at all. According to David, it’s vital that we qualify every prospect as worth pursuing before we take the time to customize a solution for them in our sales process.
That means taking the time to determine what elements qualify a great prospect: size of company, industry, goals, values, and any other factors that differentiate a good client from a great one.
At this point, it’s worth taking your customization checklist and meeting with a prospect. As a salesperson, that means developing a list of questions you need answers to in order to build a customized quote, product, service or solution for your prospects.
R – Repeatable: Building a customized list of questions to ask your prospect to customize a solution, only one thing is required according to David: “Spend more time with the delivery team.”
Whether that team is delivering, installing, providing maintenance and customer service, or a mixture of all of them, it’s that team that understands ow your product or service impacts your customers and what value they really receive from what you sell. With those questions answered, you now have valuable insight to build questions around so that you can create specific solutions for every prospect that meets their needs, for their space, in their company and for their goals.
I – Improvable: Improving a system for customizing solutions means being a professional researcher. Any time that a customer leaves a review for your product or a similar one is an opportunity for you to add to or amend your list of customization questions.
For instance, if a review mentions how heavy your product is and how difficult it is to move, you’ll want to ensure that’s factored into the conversations you have with your prospects. A heavy product can be a detriment to someone needing mobility, but can be a plus for someone looking for sturdiness and longevity.
M – Measurable: David said that measuring the effectiveness of how well we sell customized solutions comes down to the emotions our product or service elicits in our customers. That means asking clients who we customized solutions for what the most valuable parts of our sales process were for them and what they most enjoy about the product or service we sold them. Measuring their responses will allow us to determine where to place more emphasis and what parts of our customization and sales process might be removed entirely.
Measuring also means tracking how much time it took you to complete the entire sales cycle with a prospect. Because you’re taking more time to customize solutions, it might mean more time in the field with prospects. We need to ensure that time spent to sales closed is a sustainable ratio for salespeople. If it’s a lengthy sales cycle that’s overworking your sales team, you can be assured that customer service and experience with your brand will suffer as well.
Customizing sales solutions is the ultimate in consultative selling, and it’s best executed like all sales should be – with systems.