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What is Consultative Selling?

Good sales are all about relationships. This is the philosophy of the consultative sales approach. But, what exactly is consultative selling, and what does it look like in practice? Read on to find out…


Consultative vs. Product-Focused Selling

Changes in the market mean that consumers are now faced with a barrage of information and options when looking to buy. This means that potential customers are more informed and more sceptical than ever. Too often, product-focused selling can feel like more of the same to your prospective customers. They are fatigued. Add in the additional factor of increased competition, and you have a job to make that sale.  

Consultative selling takes a different approach. 

It focuses on the communication between the prospect and the business. The needs of the client must be listened to and understood. This allows you to tailor what, and how, you are selling to that individual client. Taking this time to assure the client that their specific needs are important to you, builds trust. Product-focused selling is, of course, still a valuable tool. But the authentic relationship established through a consultative approach can differentiate you from competitors, compelling the client towards a sale. 

Three Steps to Consultative Selling Success… 

So, you now have an understanding of what consultative selling is. But, what does it look like in practice? These three steps outline how one might approach implementing consultative selling:

  1. Research

Researching your prospect effectively is the first step in developing that relationship. It will help you better frame conversations with potential customers if you’ve got those basic insights established. Understanding how your product will benefit them specifically is what can give you the edge over competitors. 

  1. Ask and Listen

It is important to be willing to enter into a dialogue. Your research should give you a plan of how to approach the conversation, but clients don’t want to feel like they are being steered straight into a sale. Yes, be authoritative by asking questions, but listen to the answers the clients are giving you. Identify their specific pain points, and be adaptable to them. 

  1. Personalise

Now you have a genuine understanding of your client, you can tailor your recommendations to them. This will make your pitch more compelling. With a personalised sales pitch, you have the complete inversion of the cold, product-focused selling that clients have grown sceptical of. 

What To Avoid 

There are a few behaviours that, whilst common amongst sales professionals, are damaging. Consultative selling seeks to eliminate these. Firstly: the unconscious bias. Making your own assumptions, whilst often instinctive, could lead to the dismissal of potentially vital information. Instead, listen carefully and be sure to pursue new information, even if it conflicts with your original assumption. 

The consultative sales practitioner is not afraid to be challenged. 

That’s why seller-centric behaviours are also to be avoided. Don’t try to strong-arm customers, for instance, by skating over issues. Switch your mindset to one of authenticity, leaving room for open conversation. The consultative selling practitioner avoids these pitfalls, allowing for a far more compelling sales pitch.

Consultative Selling: The Results Are In 

Consultative selling is hyper-focused on the customer…

Developing a relationship between prospect and business is at the heart of the philosophy.

To achieve this, sellers must focus on their communication skills and be adaptable to the needs of the customer. This differentiates your business from that of competitors, and the authentic, trust-based relationship which is built is fertile ground for sales.

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