Questions are your best tool for striking the perfect balance in consultative selling. Questions position you as a consultant, and questions help you to sell effectively. But not all questions are created equally. Even with a pure and clear intent to focus on customer needs… even with an ability to ask well-constructed, strategic questions… even with an awareness of how to stay in the moment and conduct a natural conversation… even with all of this, sellers sometimes ask questions that cause buyers to mistrust them.
As a buyer, you probably consider the questions asked by some sellers to be manipulative. As a seller, though, you may ask those very same kinds of questions. This happens when we allow our misplaced perspective to supplant our good judgment and broader goals.
Balance the Two Parts of Consultative Selling
When sellers look at sales opportunities solely through the lens of selling, they over-focus on commissions and quotas. They think short-term and picture buyers as prey. This mindset changes the way they talk to buyers because it changes the way they view them.
It’s also possible to over-compensate. Sellers who only think long-term and look exclusively through the lens of the buyer’s perspective also limit their own effectiveness. They become pro-bono consultants instead of sellers, meeting to discuss the buyer’s business but never advancing the sale.
In consultative selling, sellers need to wear bifocals so they can focus on both perspectives. Building trust and being interested in buyer needs cannot happen when a seller is singularly focused on making an immediate sale. At the same time, sellers cannot focus exclusively on customer consultations.
Sellers must meet their buyers’ needs and sell their own products. Being near-sighted or far-sighted compromises a seller’s effectiveness. This often shows in the poor quality of questions a seller is asking. There’s only one way for a seller to strike a balance between buyer needs and seller needs. That perfect balance of consultative selling is reached when a seller understands the needs of the buyer so the solutions offered meet the needs of the buyer.
Asking quality questions to understand a buyer's needs and simultaneously advance the sale ensure the right balance in consultative selling. DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected will show you how to do this. It's based on research with buyers and packed with practical examples you can apply right away.
- To learn more about DISCOVER Questions® and how to get connected in meaningful ways with your buyers, order your copy of this bestseller from Amazon.com
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Deb Calvert, “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” author and Top 50 Sales Influencer, is President of People First Productivity Solutions, a UC Berkeley instructor, and a former Sales/Training Director of a Fortune 500 media company. She speaks and writes about the Stop Selling & Start Leading movement and offers sales training, coaching and consulting as well as leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach by the ICF and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Deb has worked in every sector and in 14 countries to build leadership capacity, team effectiveness and sales productivity with a “people first” approach.