Master this and you’ll kick-start and fast-track your sales process by learning everything you can about:
Your buyer’s situation
Their deepest needs
And what success will look like to them
Once you have established these you will also have established trust.
”Nothing has such power to broaden the [sale] as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation [of thy prospect].” – Marcus Aurelius
2. Listen actively
How often do we all do this?
We ask a question and as the answer is floating over our heads, we are busy concentrating on what a sensible next question will be.
We haven’t actually taken in or considered the answer – all we care about is the next question.
Active listening is not about being ready to fire off another question – it’s about making sure you understand what the other person has said and then responding to this.
It is not about having four or five steps prepared to reach a destination – it is about letting your prospect map out the territory.
Stop following your end goal and start being guided by these principles:
Ask yourself if this is a leading question that is designed to take your prospect somewhere or make them agree with you.
Slow down and listen and rely more on probing questions based on understanding what has been said than driving questions designed to move things forward.
Work backwards rather than forwards by validating and clarifying what has been said.
”Unless you are good at guessing, it is not much use being a detective.” – Agatha Christie
3. Gather your evidence
In the spirit of working backwards we are going to reverse to the time before that first sales call was even made.
Even when you are at ground zero you need to lay the foundations for a great consult. To do this you need to gather your evidence by researching as much as you can about your prospect and their company.
This is also where imaginative skills are just as important as investigative. You need to get inside the head of the pains, worries, fears and desires of your prospect. You need to travel their buying journey with them.
”A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” – David Hume
4. Gain and deepen trust
At the centre of the power of consultative selling is the trust that develops with your prospect.
This trust can be as compelling, and usually is more so, than a thrown-in discount or a stack of features.
Here are four steps to ‘trust’ heaven:
1. Have back-up
Everything you say should have evidence on hand to back it up, whether this is testimonials, case studies, research, industry statistics or performance reviews. Use social media posts to build your back-up.
2. Drop your defence
As you position yourself as a trusted authority, you must also take criticism graciously. Whether this comes publicly from competitors or privately from a prospect, you should always face criticism head on without hostility. Never mud-sling: dignity always wins the day.
3. Use content to add value
Creating valuable content is an excellent way of building trust with your audience but it is a long game. Keep at it even if the wins seem far away. Mix your own content with curating and sharing that of others.
4. Tailor your solutions
Trust comes from knowing someone has your back. Building tailored solutions that are specifically customised to each prospect’s needs shows that you understand their problems, have immersed yourself in their challenges, and will always be there to give insight and add value.
”You need a crime, a detective, and the solution.” – Kerry Greenwood