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Building business relationships: The consultative selling approach

Explore the power of a win-win solution.

Selling is transactional: I give you money; you give me a product or service. But one-and-done sales are not the goal. Repeat sales are. And those typically only happen through trust and a mutually beneficial relationship.

In negotiating a sale, there are a few potential scenarios:

  • Avoid (I lose – You lose)
  • Accommodate (I lose – You Win)
  • Compete (I Win – You Lose)
  • Compromise (I lose/win some – You lose/win some)
  • Collaborate (I Win – You Win)

The sweet spot, of course, is the last one, where both parties collaborate to achieve a win for both.

Consultative selling—sometimes called relationship selling—is a way to build a relationship and deliver a win-win for both buyer and seller. It involves identifying customer needs, challenges, and goals in order to tailor a solution based on the seller’s products and services.

Consultative selling steps are straightforward:

Prepare: Research the client, company, and position to gain a better understanding of who they are and what their goals or challenges may be. Use the 5 Considerations as a guide.

Assess Needs: Engage in open dialogue and questions to better understand the client’s needs and build a connection. Use the 4C’s as a guide.

Share & Recommend: Here’s where you sell! Share the value you, your team, your company, and your product/service bring to the table. Recommend a solution that directly addresses the client’s goals or challenges.

Follow Through: Ask for the sale. Deliver the solution and continue to build trust and credibility by checking in, sharing helpful info, answering questions, etc. Ask for referrals if appropriate.

Consultative selling positions you as an expert, a guide, and a champion for the client, someone looking out for their best interests and helping them reach their goals. And what client wouldn’t appreciate a relationship like that?

Remember these basics as you work to develop that strong buyer-seller relationship:

  • Be Respectful – Keep negotiations professional, be courteous, and establish credibility, trust, respect, and relatedness.
  • Stay Calm – Present a measured response so you are able to think clearly even under pressure and not give in to frustration.
  • Communicate! – You must get your message across clearly and effectively. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings and potential conflicts with the client.
  • Actively Listen – Hear not only what the person is saying but how they’re saying it and their non-verbal body language.
  • Collaborate to Problem Solve – Stay focused on providing solutions. Think and talk about possible areas of agreement and consider all options.

We offer training both virtually and in person to help companies apply these concepts to build productive business relationships. Our Program Director, Jen Walls, can help you craft a program ideal for your team’s needs and goals.

How can we help your leaders and business excel?