Consultative Selling – An Asset for the Black Sales Professional

Consultative Selling

In the 5/12 edition of Black Sales Journal, we examined selling styles and how you need some exposure and experience with all of them to be an accomplished sales professional.  I recognized the importance of this subject and our need to examine some of them in a more in deeply.

If you have used the consultative selling style, you recognize that the strength of this method is the collaboration with the client to determine his/her organization’s needs is time well spent.  It is a time of personal interaction and development.  The fruit of this is a listing of the most important needs of the organization, and a pretty good idea of the priority of these items.

This style allows for relationship development (important and essential for Black sales professionals) as well as a demonstration of your product and industry expertise.

Are You A Problem Solver?

Consultative selling is an art.  It is attempted often, yet should be mastered.

My definition of the consultative selling style is as follows:

“A selling style where the sales professional acts in the role of a consultant, first aiding the buyer in identifying his, or his organizations needs, then recommending the products and services that satisfy those needs.”

The most important aspect of the consultative selling style is problem solving.  Being a problem solver is not necessarily natural, but it is logical.  Recognizing the client’s needs and being able to get agreement on them from the client is ‘job one’.

This means that the sales professional who is adept at this form of selling must exercise the personal skills and industry knowledge to get to the root of the problem, then use the knowledge that has been gained to suggest solutions, which include your organizations products that could solve the problem.

Recognize that if you do not do a thorough review of the problems, needs, and desires of the customer, you will not be able to come up with solid courses of action and products to satisfy the problem.

The consultative seller never suggests a product until knowing that this product will satisfy the need of the customer.  In depth questioning is common in this style of selling. Your objective is to be the expert on your customer, your customers needs, and solutions.

What Are You Adding to the Equation?

Buyers look for problem solvers because that level of consultant to their business adds value.  Think about the fact that there may be very few buyers who have the expertise to think through problems when the products and services have the potential to be very complex.

That is where the sales professional who utilizes consultative selling can come in handy.  Helping the customer understand the most important aspects of his own problem, then solve the problems using an array of solutions and products including some of those of the sales professional’s cadre of products.

If you do this, and do it well, you have enormous value to the customer who wants to do something other than that to make money for his/her organization.

A sales professional can sell “what he/she has” to the customer or be a true business consultant and follow the process of recognizing the wants and needs of the customer, then determining the solutions that make sense.

Remember to always add value to the equation by sorting though the issues to find the problems, and then vetting the solutions well before that presentation of issues and what will make them better.  Your value to the customer will be based on your ability to keep the process focused, and produce a sound “best option” outcome.

When is this a Superior Selling Style?

Consultative selling is extremely effective in the following circumstances?

  • The product or service that is involved in the sale is complex potentially including several options.
  • The frequency of transaction or purchase is very limited. If your product is purchased on an annual basis, it is a candidate for this style.
  • The customer cannot afford to make a mistake on the purchase

So using this as a template, it is simple to realize that the most favorable situation to use this selling is for complex, infrequent, large sales.  When the product or service requires the knowledge and counsel of a professional who is up-to-date on the environment, and product nuances, you need to be there to make it happen.

An Example

I once worked with sales professional who worked with a small to medium business niche.  Working with small manufacturers and contractors he developed a keen sense of their needs, and could begin the relationship learning needs and preferences and quickly move into showing how his product would serve the needs that were developed.

He was the business consultant for those who really could not afford one and he did it efficiently.  He had the largest segment of customers available (small to medium) by segment, and was adept at forming deep relationships only with those who had the highest corresponding revenues.

His process worked so well that he was very successful and wealthy.  Perhaps his only significant problem was that it did not give him the opportunity to develop his other styles as well as he could. His success in the segment did not require them, so when he encountered a buyer that needed a “deep” relationship seller he had limited experience in that realm.  This limited his success as he moved to go upstream to larger clients.


Master all of the sales styles, and use them as necessary.  Remember always, that the consultative sales style can be used with the other styles.

The true sales professional will work to integrate all styles in their sales lexicon.  When they are all used at the right time, they increase the effectiveness and…income.

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