Why modern sales support needs to enable consultative selling.Posted on August 28th, 2019 by Jay Thomas
More than ever, today's sales teams craft custom solutions tailored to individual clients. Yet, the end product isn't the only piece of the sales process that gets customized. Winning sales reps change their content and pitch to suit the unique needs of each prospect.
This personalized approach is beating traditional one-size-fits-all sales models. Reps that listen, give advice, and adapt to their clients' needs now have a competitive edge.
“B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage with a sales professional who provides new insights about their business.” — Alex Hisaka.
Many sales support systems still hold back from using consultative selling. This reluctance costs sales reps time and hurts the bottom line. To maximize sales, sales support needs to make consultative selling a top priority.
What is consultative selling?
“79% of business buyers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor.” — Salesforce.
The best sales reps do more than sell — they advise. In essence, consultative selling means focusing on the client rather than the product. To achieve this, reps need a deep understanding of the client's real needs and challenges. Asking the right questions and listening with care is crucial to this process.
As consultants, sales reps need to adapt to each prospect and offer unique insight. They should be prescriptive, not reactionary, advisors. Clear recommendations backed by sound reasoning ease the buying process and lead to increased sales.
The case for a customized sales approach
Customized pitches always resonate better than a "cookie-cutter" strategy. Why is that? An effective pitch incorporates the prospect's individual needs, concerns, and goals. It shows the buyer that the rep has listened. It also generates confidence that the solution will match their challenges.
The same is true for marketing collateral. Reps that tailor their sales content to suit the prospect are in a better position to succeed.
Moreover, personalization has become standard in the digital age. Both consumer and B2B markets are full of features and messages aimed at the individual. Shopping experiences, digital ads, and user interfaces respond to individual behavior and preferences. On the other hand, in B2B account-based marketing has become one of the most focused, customized ways to reach out to prospects. These trends are enabled by technology, making easy customization more important than ever.
How traditional sales support can fall short
While the world marches forward, sales support has stagnated. Sales have moved on from static products to custom solutions and strategies. Yet, sales support hasn't kept up. Consultative selling requires reps to adapt their pitches and content. Traditional support systems don't allow for these changes. These limitations bog many reps down in administrative tasks.
Surprising as it may be, many companies don't recognize this problem. New technology can create a blind spot in sales support. The use of advanced CRMs and analytics fosters a sense of overconfidence. It promotes the belief that sales systems are better than ever. While CRMs are beneficial, they don't solve all your problems.
Do your CRM and sales support systems empower reps to customize pitches and content quickly? If not, how much time do they waste searching for the right sales content? How many hours do they spend personalizing their materials? If your processes don't prioritize consultative selling, your sales reps can lose valuable time.
Creating efficient, high-impact sales support
Your business has much to gain from aligning sales support with consultative selling. However, change can upset the balance in large organizations. If you need to overhaul sales support, you can complete the transformation in stages. An evolutionary change, as opposed to a revolutionary change, can ease adoption.
There are four pillars necessary to support the foundation for consultative selling, which are:
- Buyer personas. You can't craft targeted messaging if you don't know your audience. Establishing buyer personas defines and segments your target market. Knowing your customer keeps your messaging focused and relevant.
- Customer journeys. The sales cycle is a process with many stages. You need to have a firm grasp on what they are, as well as the questions associated with each stage. Understanding customer journeys lets reps deliver the right message at the right time.
- Sales training. Defining buyer personas and customer journeys isn't enough. Reps need to be well versed in how to apply these concepts in the field. Sales training gets reps up to speed and empowers them to be more effective.
- Sales-marketing alignment. Marketing's content should always be "in tune" with the sales team's approach. The key to their alignment is communication. Hold regular meetings so the two departments can discuss how to act together as a cohesive unit.
Sales support: Worth the investment
Today's reps need to be able to adapt their messaging and content. However, traditional sales support often misses the mark, leaving reps to fend for themselves. Does your sales support process help reps adapt in a timely way?
Don't get left behind — consultative selling is gaining momentum. Organizations that embrace customized sales strategies are bringing their sales support beyond the status quo. They’re entering a new era of modern selling with technology and innovation. Most importantly, organizations that invest in sales support gain a team that has the resources it needs to drive revenue and demonstrate that you have a best-in-breed solution.
Transforming your sales support system might not be easy, but it will pay big in the long run. It all boils down to helping sales reps do their job better. Consultative selling lets them do just that. When sales reps are more productive, your bottom line grows.