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Consultative Selling: What Not To Do

Sales Management

When I made the decision to change financial advisors, I interviewed several candidates and ran across a prime example of the single biggest mistake that salespeople make in the consultative selling conversation: they sell too fast. They move through the steps of their sales process without thinking about their customers’ Buying Process.

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This particular advisor had an effective opening, but then rushed to his close by telling me about the solution he could offer. Here are 5 ways in which selling too fast cost this advisor an opportunity to gain a loyal client:

  1.  He didn’t ask why I was dissatisfied with my current solution, so I didn’t learn that my portfolio hadn’t changed in 8 years and that I thought my current advisor was lazy. If he would have asked the right questions, he would have gained deeper insight into my needs, and he would have been much more persuasive during his solution presentation.
  2. Since he didn’t know why I was dissatisfied, he forfeited a powerful sales tool: getting prospects to think about the possible negative consequences of not making a change. Had he tried, he could have gotten me to think about the effect of trusting my money to someone asleep at the switch—and put a sour face on my future.
  3. He didn’t try to find out about additional needs. Behind the obvious first need that prompts a prospect to meet with you, there is always a second need (and maybe third and fourth…). These needs provide additional incentives for the customer to make a change. Getting prospects to realize they have more than one need creates a greater sense of urgency to change. (My second need was having better online access to simple statements where the whole portfolio was visible on one screen).
  4. He didn’t ask me about my buying process–how I would make my decision regarding who would get my business. So he didn’t learn that I was going to interview two of his competitors, and therefore lost the chance to.  He lost out on an opportunity to start answering my question “why should I choose you” before I asked it of him.
  5. He didn’t ask me who else would be involved in my decision. So he didn’t know that my wife is a valued co-partner in our financial decisions. He could have then sped up our buying decision by slowing down his sales pitch and requesting a follow-up meeting with both me and my wife.

Consultative selling is about focusing on helping the customer make better buying decisions. Don’t try to force the customer to join you on your sales track. Instead, slow down the sales conversation and join your customer in their buying process. You’ll get more sales. Guaranteed.

And the end of my story? I went with another financial planner who took the time to better understand what I wanted and make sure all my needs were met, rather than just selling me a standard package of services.

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