The evolving need for different sales skill sets

Of course, you and your team are convinced your product or service is the best, but how to convince your customer? In many cases it’s not about what you sell, it’s about how you sell it.

Developing a good set of selling skills is essential to any business, in order to drive sales and boost success. Many different selling techniques are used on a daily base to effectively make more sales, close deals quickly and increase revenue. Especially consultative selling and its sub-strategy value based selling, we noticed, are techniques used in our network frequently. In this article we’d like to share our insights on this topic. What are these techniques exactly? How and when to apply them? And how did they evolve through time?

Consultative selling
Starting with the most popular sales technique used in our network these days, consultative selling. This selling method prioritizes relationships and creates an open dialogue to identify customer needs, obstacles and problems and provide solutions to it. A perfect example of a sales technique that is rather focused on the customer, than on the product or service being sold. The method helps sales professionals ask the right questions to better understand the customer’s challenges, needs and underlying problems. Knowing these aspects, professionals can position their product or service in a more powerful way. It’s all about finding the goals or needs of the customer, in order to obtain information you can later use for your sales pitch.

Consultative selling got particularly popular in technical B2B and service environments such as, financial service industries, telecom, SaaS, transport, etc.

The sectors ICT and tech were forerunners on Consultative Selling. As in these software environments it’s never about the product itself, but about the problem it solves or the improvement in efficiency it creates. This leads to the importance of sales professionals taking the role of a consultant and being a sparring partner to their prospects and clients. Sales professionals in digital environments should be able to advise on company-wide processes or challenges, and by this way finding solutions for their customers on the spot.

In technical B2B environments consultative selling became successful as well. Similarly to tech environments, it’s not about how great or cheap the product itself is, but it’s about the value it can bring to the customer or the problem it solves. By being a valuable sparring partner to your customer, and showing them in what way they could benefit from your product or service, the changes on a successful sale are much higher than when just focusing on the price.

Both in B2C and B2B environments we see that buying parties are more informed and well-read. As well there is a bigger pool of suppliers available. This makes that just a competitive price is no unique selling point anymore. Distinguishing yourself from the competition through knowledge and advice is definitely the way to go, in order to boost sales and success.

Value based selling
This sub-strategy of consultative selling is on itself not quite powerful, but when combining this method with the consultative way of selling even better results can be achieved. While consultative selling mainly focuses on enhancing client profit and measurable returns a client could get, value based selling goes beyond that. This technique enlightens the non-measurable return a client could get as well. For example, next to the primary objective of increasing sales, company-, or shareholder value, also think about more difficult to measure outcomes such as, employers health, safety or long-term brand enhancement.

In our network we hear often that sales professionals use the value based selling method when doing business with more mature clients. While consultative selling is often used for prospects or less mature clients. We noticed that last year many organizations invested much in innovation and product development. These new propositions or features lead to the need for a good different sales strategy as well. In order to cross- and upsell at the more mature clients, value based selling could be very effective.