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Using the Consultative Approach to Gaining Sales

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What do we mean by a consultative approach?

When you hear the word "salesman", it usually brings to mind someone that is pushy and will not take no for an answer. If you stated you were in sales with a prospective client, it would likely turn him off. Yet, all businesses rely on their sales force to bring dollars into the firm. It is the sales force that makes the company run as there would be no inflow of cash without them. So how do you attack such an image problem? Actually the answer lies in the approach that you take when networking. Your job, even though it may be sales, is to act as a consultant and try to find the perfect fit for the client. This approach is called consultative selling and it works very well for anyone that tries it.

I worked with a company that relied exclusively on the consultative approach; they had actually made the switch in order to fill seats in their very large training facility. The company was a major supplier of telephone services, and although people wanted to take the courses, they found them too expensive. This was mainly due to the approach they used. When they switched to a consultative role, they found that the number of people attending and paying for their training increased by 30 % or more. They no longer sold seats, they sold a concept that included training and follow-up to ensure what they taught was actually being implemented.

This leads back to the idea of pricing your services based on value rather than an hourly rate. The follow-up portion of this method is actually the key to its success. The follow-up needs to be planned and time needs to be spent caring for the customer. It is not something you throw in to make the sale.

You will need to record any discussions on how the follow-up process will work for you. A planned set of dates should be written down on your power page and then entered into your CRM software for milestone triggering. If you promise anything to the customer, write it down, put it in your calendar, and follow-through with your promises. Nothing turns clients off more than being ignored.

Bette Daoust, Ph.D. has been networking with others since leaving high school years ago. Realizing that no one really cared about what she did in life unless she had someone to tell and excite. She decided to find the best ways to get people's attention, be creative in how she presented herself and products, getting people to know who she was, and being visible all the time. Her friends and colleagues have often dubbed her the "Networking Queen". Blueprint for Networking Success: 150 ways to promote yourself is the first in this series. Blueprint for Branding Yourself: Another 150 ways to promote yourself is planned for release in 2005. For more information visit

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