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THE EVOLUTION OF SHOPPER MARKETING MARKETING DATA MANAGEMENT PLAN BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 1

ADOPTING
CONSULTATIVE
SELLING

BEST PRACTICES GUIDE


ADOPTING Best Practices Guide
CONSULTATIVE SELLING
Table of Contents
Introduction 3

Competitive Positioning 4

Product Knowledge 5

Key Accounts Planning 6

Business Communications 7

Consultative Sales Process 8

Active Listening Skills 10

Objection Handling 11

The Art of Negotiation 13

Closing Techniques 16

Analyst Bottom Line 17

Action Plan 18

About 24
INTRODUCTION ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 3

Introduction
This report has been designed to provide practical advice for converting
to a consultative selling approach.

Read this report to learn how to:

Identify Competitive Advantages & Differentiators

Determine Product Features, Advantages, & Benefits

Develop Key Account Plans

Standardize Business Communications

Promote a Consultative Sales Process

Improve the Listening Skills of your Staff

Effectively Handle Customer Objections

Skillfully Negotiate Favorable Terms

Teach Proven Closing Techniques

Read this report to identify opportunities to further develop and maintain


consultative selling in your organization.
COMPETITIVE POSITIONING ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 4

Competitive Positioning
How a prospect competitively positions your company is a crucial factor
when engaging in the buying/selling process. Fundamentally, posi- Competitive positioning is all about gaining a competitive
tioning is about aligning your business with theirs so that a clear edge in your market. It goes beyond understanding your
synergy can be visualized by the prospect. prospects’ needs and must incorporate knowledge of your
When there is a perfect fit between organizations, selling becomes competition to ensure your product is favorably differenti-
much easier because in the early stages of the sales cycle the prospect ated among many competing options.
mentally puts your organization ahead of the competition, in principle.
Therefore, it is essential that the prospect be comfortable with the
salesperson and correctly position your company.

Many organizations discover value by using a Competitive Analysis Tool


to evaluate industry competitors, understand competitive advantages
and differentiation points, develop a Competitive Product Positioning
Map and a competition matrix.

To effectively position your company, determine the following:

1 What are your genuine competitive advantages?

2 How can you differentiate your products?


PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 5

Product Knowledge
While it’s true that deep knowledge of all products/services comes with time and effort, there are methods for quickly understanding the key features,
advantages, and benefits of your solution.

Features Benefits
Features are components of your product/service that Benefits are advantages of a product/service that fulfill
have been developed to deliver value to the customer. the explicit need of a prospect. For example, a restaurant
An example would be “practical tools” like this one. offering a featured lunch that arrives in 10 minutes or less
would be advantageous to some, but a real benefit for
those who need to be back to work in 30 minutes.
Advantages
Advantages are implicit benefits resulting from the
features, but are not necessarily beneficial to all pros-
pects. An example would be saving time by using a prac-
tical tool template. Note that this advantage is a benefit
only when a prospect needs the particular tool shown.

Use our Feature, Advantage, Benefit Tool to quickly map out


VIEW RESOURCE
the most salient points for your product/service offering.
KEY ACCOUNT PLANNING ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 6

Key Account Planning


Every organization has key accounts that are responsible for large
amounts of revenue or have a large growth potential.

Account planning allows you to work backwards from annual sales


targets to determine which actions need to be taken to achieve your
goals & objectives. Additionally, account plans provide measures that
can be monitored and managed.

Following are the components of an effective Key Account Plan:

Corporate Overview - A brief description of this account.


Hierarchy - Where does power lie in the organization?
Opportunity Size - How much revenue can you attain?
Current State - What does this account buy now?
Goal State of Account - What is your vision for growth?
Account Objectives - Specific, measurable objectives.
Account Action Plan - Step-by-step action plan.

Use a Key Account Planning Tool to determine where your


VIEW RESOURCE
revenues will come from.
BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 7

Business Communications
There are many types of business communications such as introductions,
appointment confirmations, meeting follow-ups to document agreed
next steps, and order confirmations.

Salespeople often rush to send their communications without spending


a few minutes to ensure that their communication will have the maximum
impact possible.

A well-constructed business communication, such as an email or intro-


duction letter, can be effectively described as a digital salesperson.

Each communication should be strategically used to confirm what has


been agreed and close the prospect on the next part of the sales process.

Equally important, each communication should be structured to have an


introduction and a call to action.

It is recommended that standard email drafts be set up to ensure


consistency of electronic business communications.
CONSULTATIVE SELLING PROCESS ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 8

Consultative Selling Process


All businesses need customers who are confident that they made the Following is a sales process guaranteed to win business:
right decision to buy.
1 Introduce Yourself and Establish Rapport
In many cases, prospects feel that they bought under pressure, and often
end up canceling their order. 2 Provide Brief Value Proposition

To mitigate this risk, salespeople need to work in partnership with their 3 State the Agenda for the Call
prospects to lead them to the right decision for their organization,
regardless of whether that means a sale. 4 Ask Probing Questions to Identify Implicit Needs

The focus becomes the customer’s needs and your ability to provide a 5 Ask Further Questions to Develop Explicit Needs
solution for their needs.
6 Present Solution to Explicit Needs

7 Handle any Objections

8 Ensure Prospect is Sold in Principle

9 Negotiate Terms to Mutual Agreement

10 Get Commitment for the Sale


CONSULTATIVE SELLING PROCESS ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 9

Neil Rackham’s bestseller SPIN Selling provides an excellent frame-


work for developing consultative sales process in any organization. To convert implicit needs into explicit needs, Rackham
Based on research of over 35,000 sales calls, this methodology is based suggests using the SPIN framework, which is an acronym for
on the most research ever conducted on the sales process.
S Situation - questions designed to gather facts.
At its core, SPIN selling is all about converting implicit needs into explicit
needs. P Problem - questions to identify challenges

Implicit needs are statements of problems, dissatisfactions, and difficul-


ties. Explicit needs are specific customer wants and desires. I Implication - exploring the impact of problems.

It is the satisfaction of explicit needs that leads to a successful sales call. N Need-Payoff - discussing the value of a solution.
The goal of SPIN selling is to convert surface-level implicit needs into
deeply rooted explicit needs.
Use a SPIN Selling Tool to further develop appropriate questions for your
organization.

Additionally, create a standardized Sales Proposal and Sales Presenta-


tion template that you can quickly modify for new opportunities.

Once your funnel starts to fill up, use an Opportunity Pipeline Tool to
report expected revenues, and document where accounts are in the
sales cycle.
ACTIVE LISTENING SKILLS ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 10

Active Listening Skills


In order to effectively use the SPIN Selling methodology, salespeople must
further develop their active listening skills. Most salespeople are great
talkers, but the exceptional star sellers tend to be even better listeners.

Following is a comparison between strong and weak listeners:

Strong Listeners Weak Listeners

Open Body Posture Has Closed Body Posture

Lean Forward Lean Back

Interrupts to Understand Interrupts to Speak

Maintains Eye Contact Looks Around

Nods & Acknowledges Shows No Interaction

Sits Still and Relaxed Fidgets and Acts Restless

Restates and Paraphrases Talks Over

Takes Detailed Notes Doesn’t Take Notes

Asks Great Questions Doesn’t Ask Questions


OBJECTION HANDLING ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 11

Objection Handling
Although SPIN Selling prevents many objections that come up in the buying process, there will always be some concerns or questions that need to be
answered before a prospect will be ready to move forward.

Following is a simple 4-step approach for effectively handling objections and getting back to the sales process:

1. Soften 2. Respond
Empathize and agree with the customer. Some examples Use an objection response to present a valid argument
include “I understand” or “I agree with you” or “That’s a that can alleviate the customer’s concern. For example,
valid concern.” “The issue you are sharing is actually already resolved by
one of our amazing features.”

3. Confirm 4. Close
Paraphrase their concern to demonstrate understanding. Following your response, a trial close can be used to bring
For example, “So what you are telling me is that you need.” the discussion back on track to the sales presentation. For
example, “Do you see how we can alleviate your concern?
Great! Are you ready to move forward?”

Use an Objection Response Tool to determine how your top


VIEW RESOURCE
salespeople overcome common objections.
OBJECTION HANDLING ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 12

Following are some objection-handling techniques:

Feel, Felt, Found Yes, But


Agree with the customer that many customers have This is an empathy statement by agreeing with the objec-
“felt” that way in the past, what we have “found” is that tion followed by – “but have you ever thought about.”
by [insert response], our clients have “found” that.

Restate & Qualify Convert to Question


Paraphrase the objection to establish whether the If you need some time to think about your response,
objection is REAL. one technique is to ask a question of the prospect to
buy some time.

Isolate Objection Boomerang


Ensure that all other objections have been covered, Make the objection the exact reason they SHOULD buy.
and then work to isolate the most difficult objection and
close on that one.
THE ART OF NEGOTIATING ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 13

The Art of Negotiating


“When selling you never get what you deserve, you get what you nego- Following is a summary of other agreement methods:
tiate for.”
Persuasion
Implies that one party knows best and will therefore
Definition impose his/her will on the other. It does not usually
Negotiation is a mutual exchange of concessions, promote lasting relationship because it colors all future
which provides both buyer and seller with a transactions with tension and distrust.
profitable deal, or a win-win situation.
Accommodation
This is a one-winner strategy, where the weaker party
How is Negotiating Different? gives in.
Fundamentally, negotiation is different from all other methods of reaching
an agreement, such as persuasion, accommodation, compromise, and Compromise
confrontation.
Is a nobody-wins strategy as each side usually gives up some-
Negotiation is based on the premise that both sides will win and thing they didn’t want to. This method promotes suspicion.
commence a long-term business relationship.
Confrontation
Describes a situation where both sides initially refuse to
budge. The result is that either one side surrenders or no
deal is made.
THE ART OF NEGOTIATING ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 14

Golden Rules of Negotiating Negotiating Strategy


The sales negotiator must first decide on a strategy, based on:
Ensure Prospect is Sold in Principle The needs of the customer
Never enter a negotiation if the prospect is not sold in The strengths of the selling company’s position
principle. Otherwise, you will be in a position of disad- How much the selling company wants the order
vantage for your negotiation.
Preparation for a negotiation should include:

Remain Calm Analysis of previous history


Analysis of buying company’s needs & objectives
Be calm, cool, and collected as possible.
Defining the sales objectives
Planning the negotiation interview
Remove Emotions Costing of what you can afford to give away
Estimating the value of concessions to the buyer
Top negotiators are cold/clinical.

Skilled negotiators do not start by making their best offer. Instead, they
Have a Plan test the other side by various tactics. During this exchange, each side
takes an initial stance.
Prepare for your negotiation by understanding your
best-case scenario, fallback position, and concessions During the subsequent bargaining, each side moves towards a prepared
you are willing to make. fallback position. The final agreement will normally depend on:

The relative skills of the negotiators


Never Give Anything Away The strengths of the buying/selling companies
Instead of just giving concessions away, make sure to The intensity of each side’s needs
always trade them and get something in return
When the buyer takes their initial stance, the sales negotiator should take
their own initial stance at a point equidistant from the sales fallback position.
THE ART OF NEGOTIATING ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 15

Structure of the Negotiation Interview


The salesperson should seek to take control of the negotiation. Select Issues for Discussion
If control cannot be assumed immediately, the salesperson should keep Once all issues have been defined, create an agenda. The order of
cool until the opportunity arises. the agenda should be well prepared. The following considerations will
provide a guide:
Following is a suggested structure for a lengthy negotiation. The sales-
person should attempt to set the mood by Start with a Bridge Issue - consider starting with a minor issue that
can be easily agreed and promotes an atmosphere of partnership.
Stating “why we are here.”
Stressing mutual objectives Make Concessions Early - make concessions early and seek conces-
Being confident that an agreement will be made sions on later, more important issues.
Maintaining eye contact
Work up to Key Issues - prioritize your agenda such that you deal
Avoiding dominant questions
with all the minor issues in the early stages of the negotiation. This
Avoiding distractions
is a good method for avoiding a heated negotiation right from the
Letting the other party respond with their overview
beginning.

Refining the Issues


Background
This is the process of discussion, offense and defense, giving and
Discuss the history of the deal and let the other party respond with their
receiving, persuading and bargaining.
perspective. Do not state issues in such a manner that the other party
will react and start to argue. Fallback
Each side approaches their fallback position. If the positions are iden-
Defining Issues
tical, this will be a short, painless process. If not, more bargaining will be
Agree on the items that are in scope for the negotiation. Do not discuss necessary.
any points until all issues have been identified. If the other party surprises
you with an unexpected issue, remain calm. Question, makes notes, but Settlement
remain neutral at this stage. This is when an agreement has been reached in principle.
CLOSING TECHNIQUES ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 16

Closing Techniques
In many cases, a successful sales call will involve 5-7 trial/final closes.
Definition A trial close is a stepping-stone to the final close, and usually confirms
Closing is a natural conclusion to a well- that the prospect sees value in a particular aspect of the solution. For
presented sales argument. example, a trial close might be: “do you see how this part of our product
can save you time?”

Following are some closing techniques:

Most organizations feel that they need to have better “closers.” Direct Close - simply asking for the order.
Assumptive Close - assuming prospect is ready to buy.
Although closing is an essential part of the sales process, research has
Choice Close - providing two purchasing options.
demonstrated that effectively developing implicit needs to explicit needs
Silent Close - waiting for the prospect to respond.
exponentially increases close rates.
Final Objection Close - closing on final objection.
Generally speaking, closing should be used to affirm that value has been
shown.

The classic line “always be closing” makes sense if you consider that
effective salespeople trial close after each and every feature they
present.
ANALYST BOTTOM LINE ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 17

Analyst Bottom Line


The manner in which organizations buy and sell products has
steadily evolved over the past 50 years.

The old huckster approach of “boy have I got a deal for you”
will simply no longer work for today’s sophisticated, and
informed, consumers.

Organizations looking to adapt to a modern consultative


approach need to focus on fundamentals such as: rigorous
competitive analysis to identify differentiators; formalized
product training; account planning; standard business commu-
nications; adopting a consultative sales process such as SPIN
Selling; improving listening skills; handling objections; tactfully
negotiating; and strong closing techniques.

Use the tools provided in this report to create a custom Sales


Training Manual for your organization.
THE EVOLUTION OF SHOPPER MARKETING ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 18

A D O P T I N G C O N S U LTAT I V E S E L L I N G
ACTION PLAN

Follow this simple, step-by-step methodology to develop a Consultative Selling plan that increases sales,
builds customer insights, and grows brand awareness.
ACTION PLAN ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 19

1 Evaluate

2 Develop Evaluate Your Sales Readiness

3 Strategize Utilize our Sales Support Checklist to evaluate your current


systems and initiatives for your sales team.

4 Train

VIEW RESOURCE
5 Measure
ACTION PLAN ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 20

1 Evaluate

Build a Sales Plan You Can Share With


2 Develop
Stakeholders
3 Strategize
Develop a solid 12-18 month plan for your Consultative Selling
program with our Sales Operations Strategy Scorecard.
4 Train

5 Measure
VIEW RESOURCE
ACTION PLAN ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 21

1 Evaluate

2 Develop Follow Proven Best Practices to Sales


Enablement Success

3 Strategize
Develop an implementation strategy and communication plan
to roll-out the initiative across the organization and through your
4 Train
channels.

Use our Sales Enablement Playbook to create your plan.


5 Measure

VIEW RESOURCE
ACTION PLAN ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 22

1 Evaluate

2 Develop Train Your Team About Sales Practices

3 Strategize Develop an education and training plan for all affected personnel:
sales, marketing, operations, and channels.

4 Train

S TA R T L E A R N I N G
5 Measure
ACTION PLAN ADOPTING CONSULTATIVE SELLING BEST PRACTICES GUIDE 23

1 Evaluate

2 Develop Track Key Sales Metrics

3 Strategize Measure and track the progress of your Sales initiative with our
Sales Operations Metrics Dashboard.

4 Train

5
VIEW RESOURCE
Measure
About ANA

The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) makes a difference for indi-


viduals, brands, and the industry by driving growth, advancing the interests
of marketers and promoting and protecting the well-being of the marketing
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Founded in 1910, the ANA provides leadership that advances marketing excel-
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membership is comprised of more than 750 client-side marketers and 300
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consultants, and vendors.

Further enriching the ecosystem is the work of the nonprofit ANA Educa-
tional Foundation (AEF), which has the mission of enhancing the under-
standing of advertising and marketing within the academic and marketing
communities.
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