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5 Steps in the Consultative Sales Process

Over the past decade, marketing has shifted dramatically for building service contractors (BSCs). It used to be all about marketing services, products, and people but has now turned into consulting work.

It’s a crucial shift, critically for millennials moving up into management positions. Quite frankly, no millennials like to be solicited in this day and age. However, they are open to working with someone who can be trusted and who knows the industry inside out.

In contrast to soliciting, consulting work is about guiding, advising, suggesting, and recommending various strategies that can help to build managers. This is the kind of work that helps people be cost-effective, operate more efficiently, be more sustainable, and generally get the most out of the workplace. Consultative selling prioritizes relationships and open dialogue to provide solutions, with a focus on the customer rather than what is being sold. The advantage is that professionals can better understand their customers and see the challenges they face so that they can present solutions in a way that’s more compelling and effective.

Consultative selling can be a real help for BSCs who are looking to gain new, loyal, and secure clients for the future. One of the major drawbacks is that working with prospects in this manner takes a lot of time. Once somebody has proven themselves to their client, they can move far beyond only being a vendor and can become a key partner in the day-to-day operations. Work hard, bring about tangible results, benefits and solutions, and the process can work well in your favor.

So as a BSC, how can you take advantage of the consultative selling process for yourself? We’re going to walk you through the five key points that you need to know when you’re on your journey. Let’s find out more.

1. Working with prospects and client research

Arguably the most important step in the whole process is to conduct thorough research. You need to conduct your research on the company or client that you’ll be representing, but make it broad. One mistake inexperienced BSCs often make is that they’ll try to know every single possible detail about the company they’re going to call up, as well as the person they will be speaking to. While this may serve as an advantage in the selling process, it’s not a very productive use of one’s time. It is far more important to learn about the general industry of the company a salesperson has their eye on.

As an example, if you want to further your career in the medical sector, this is a fast-paced industry that always changes its rules, legislation, compliance regulations, et cetera. By understanding the industry in a broad sense, you will be aware of any recent changes and can prove to the person you’re speaking to that you will be a credible member of their organization. When you are more aware of the industry as a whole, it will help the company you’re courting to realize that you can add value and know precisely how you can do this. They’ll think, “here’s someone who clearly understands our industry and what our company is about”, and you’ll be in their good books.

2. Salespeople need listening skills

Communication is everything, so do listen to what is being said both in order to gauge information and let the recipient know that you’re interested in them and their company. A lot of new starters on sales teams often miss the fact that what’s important is not just to hear the words themselves but to engage in active listening. Respond only when necessary and let the client do the talking. If you think it helps, you can jot down any critical points during your discussion, but don’t get too out of hand with this – you won’t want to distract yourself and miss any essential information in your conversation. 

3. Asking questions

After securing an appointment with your prospective client, it can often be tempting to let the other person know just how much you’ve researched on them or the company. While it might be impressive, it is best to play it cool and be professional, refraining from using jargon and buzzwords when unnecessary – it could even antagonize the other person, making you come across as obnoxious or arrogant. The conversation should be free-flowing and authentic.

As mentioned, active listening is the way forward. Ask open-ended questions, and let them do the talking for the most part. This will help build up trust and rapport, plus you will get to know which issues are most important, how they like to conduct business, their budget, project scope, and so on. It’s just as important for getting to know your client in person as it is for understanding the business.

4. Informing

When you’re getting towards the middle of the call or meeting, this is the time to share some of your research and knowledge in a way that is succinct and to the point. Don’t try and market your services, products, or even yourself. Instead, try to show what you can do and how you can be the solution to a problem.

It’s important to be updated on modern tech achievements because many of today’s solutions are based on technology. For example, if you are looking to approach a company that is in charge of maintaining a large office space, think about how technology could add value to their day-to-day operations. Access to various software could allow the company to maximize its resources and efforts, getting the most out of managing and cleaning the office. The young certainly have an advantage over the old, but anyone can relate to new technologies – it’s just a matter of doing your research.

It certainly helps to show how the latest in technology can uncover issues and create solutions to problems. These could be problems that the prospective client is not even aware of yet! You can show solutions, provide answers and showcase your expertise in a style that can relate to them.

5. Closing

This is a natural part of any selling process, especially when it comes to consulting work – you have to secure your clients and offer them solutions. One of the most important things is to close when it feels natural to both parties involved. A lot of the time, salespeople feel the urge to close quickly. While this might seem like a natural thing to do, it often results in discomfort and pushback from the party involved and is more likely to derail the whole process instead of helping it. The best consulting work sale is arguably when the client feels that they haven’t been sold anything at all; rather they have realized that you can become a natural extension of their business. When a person can see the long-term gains, they will be quick to offer a hand to you. 

We hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about these five steps. Is there anything you’d add to the process? Share your thoughts with us. 

Good luck!


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