Consultative selling refers to a selling method or technique where a sales person engages in consultation with a company to understand problems that the company wants to solve and then provide recommendation for the solutions that will address the problem. The sales person acts as an expert consultant for the prospect and he asks questions that help in determining the needs of the prospect and they use the information in selecting the best service or product for addressing these needs.
Consultative selling appeared for the first time in 1970s in a book by Mack Hanan entitled Consultative Selling. This technique works with value-added selling where the sales person present benefits that are specific to customers and related to their service or product. When executed properly, consultative selling produced high amount of information regarding the needs and wants of the prospect making it easier for a salesperson to move to the next step in presenting benefits of the product in addressing the needs and wants of the customer.
Qualifying the prospects thoroughly before an appointment is set up is very important in consultative selling. This is because if the salesperson does not know in advance whether the product is good for a prospect they will waste time in long appointments trying to draw a prospect only to realize later that they cannot offer what the prospect wants.
Just like any form of selling, consultative selling has steps that are essential in ensuring its success. The initial step after qualifying a prospect is establishing rapport. This entails the salesperson positioning themselves as an expert in advance. However, the salesperson should do this without bragging but proving their competency and how qualified they are to guide the prospect.
The next step is analyzing the needs of the prospect. This entails identifying a problem that a client or customer is facing. This is made possible by prior research while qualifying the prospect. The problem should be examined carefully and in details to make it clear to the prospect.
After analyzing the needs of the client or customer, the salesperson now offers solutions with their products or services. The salesperson shows the prospect how the product or service can solve the existing problem and make things better for them in the future. However, the prospect can object but the salesperson is always unrelenting and they present more benefits or advantages of their products or services.
These may include the cost-effectiveness and after-sale services that act as incentives that move the prospect into taking a more favorable action which is to purchase the product or service.
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