I have seen a lot of definitions of consultative selling which are a little dry and unhelpful. This is my attempt to define consultative selling in a way that is more meaningful to you!
Sell like a doctor
The easiest way to define consultative selling is to use the analogy of visiting a doctor
Imagine going to a doctor with a medical problem. You would expect the doctor to ask some questions and maybe do some tests in order to diagnose your condition. Then the doctor would prescribe a course of treatment that they believe will solve your problem.
The process is similar to the consultative sales process where you look for prospects with problems you are able to solve. You then find out more so that you can correctly understand the problem before recommending a solution.
Even when people come to you asking about your products and services, you should still take a step back and take them through the consultative sales process just to ensure that anything you recommend is going to work for them. Otherwise it would be like a doctor just writing a prescription for powerful drugs because a patient thinks they need them. In sales this is referred to as ‘order taking’.
Be a Trusted Adviser
The ‘holy grail’ in sales is for your clients to see you as their trusted adviser and consultative selling, when done well, will deliver this for you. Your clients will want to come to you to discuss their problems which will give you an advantage over your competitors. However, you are unlikely to be the first person they call if they think you are more interested in the sale than helping them solve their problems. Consultative selling engenders trust when you take prospects through the process before making your recommendation. The good news is that it is also easier to do, especially for those people who hate the idea of being pushy or manipulative.