There are two fundamental philosophies in selling. There’s push selling and there’s pull selling. If you hate selling and want to make it easier on yourself then you should definitely be pull selling. Push selling is where you decide what the customer wants and then you persuade them to buy it. Pull selling is where you find out what the customer wants to buy and you sell it to them. It’s based on making your products and services sound highly attractive – just like a magnet!

Push selling is what most people think selling is all about when they first get into sales because that’s their experience of most sales people. Sometimes the push is very subtle, the key difference is that with pull selling you’re facilitating the person’s buying decision as opposed to seeking to sell them something that they may or may not want.

In push selling all your focus is on your product or service, with pull selling it’s on the buyer and their wants and needs. With push selling the seller does most of the talking with pull selling the buyer does most of the talking.

Let’s just contrast push selling with selling consultatively. So you go into a electrical store to buy a new TV and you ask the assistant for some help. Now if you encounter a push sales person and tell him that you’re looking for a new TV then they’ll probably rave on about one or two models. And how brilliant they are and how they’re on special offer and how everybody is buying them these days, there’s only a few left, so you better not wait too long.

You point out to the sales person that actually the TV is too big and so he just starts raving on about a slightly smaller TV. If he had bothered to ask like a consultative sales person would he would quickly find out that you just bought a brand new cabinet and it’s got a specific size that you’re looking for. And also you have a fairly limited budget and you want a particular colour as well. And that you’re mainly going to be watching DVDs on it.

A consultative sales person would have taken the time to find out all these details before making a recommendation and might have even got to sell you a DVD player if he found out that you didn’t actually have one yet.

I’m sure in the first example you would feel like the sales person was a waste of space whereas with the consultative sales person you’ll just feel they’re being helpful.

There’s a large number of reasons why it’s worth selling more consultatively not least because people don’t tend to trust pushy sales people. And so without trust it would be harder to grow the account once you’ve won it in the first place.

Secondly, consultative selling is more professional especially where there’s complexity or lots of choice. If you decide what the customer wants and then manage to sell it to them you could end up selling them the wrong solution which causes problems further down the line.

If you take a consultative approach then often you’ll end up selling more as you’ll start considering things that previously weren’t even thought about. In terms of prospects actually enjoy going through the consultative sales persons because you get them to think through their issues.

And if you’re not overly keen on selling then you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s actually easier to do consultative selling than it is to do push selling.

If you want to help people make better buying decisions then we really need to understand what’s motivating the buying behavior. In almost all cases the buy is looking to solve a problem. If you look at the TV example that we had earlier on the problem was not that they wanted a TV the problem was that their existing TV didn’t fit into their cabinet and was also the wrong color for their new color scheme.

If your sales process is a little awkward, or not getting you the results you expect, why not take a step back and see how consultative you really are. If you are selling services rather than products then pull selling, in my experience, is the only way to build up healthy and profitable client relationships based on trust.