Retro-salesman-300x244Perhaps you’re feeling like you’re missing an important skill set that makes you enter a room, charm the socks off of a prospective customer with some fancy talk and close a deal. That’s the image of the typical high-powered salesperson – but that’s not and shouldn’t be you.

While we all want sales, we know what it’s like to be “sold,” which is hardly comfortable. Let’s take a closer look at a style of selling that feels more natural for you and can feel calming to the customer at the same time. It’s called consultative selling and it could change everything you know about getting more business.

Advise, but don’t push.
Of course you want their business. But you don’t have to seem so desperate when you first meet them that you say things like, “So what do we have to do to get started today?” It’s better to approach the prospect with a view that you’re going to use your strong knowledge to help them find out some valuable answers so they can make a smarter decision. That puts you more on their side as an advisor they can trust rather than making you seem like a sneaky salesperson trying underhanded ways to get people to part with their money.

It’s all about their questions.
Over-the-top people who try to sell themselves too hard can go on and on about their qualifications, all the happy customers they've had, even how they’re better than certain competitors. That’s all a big turn-off, especially if you use most of the time to talk about, well, you. You’ll have an opportunity to speak to your experience but if you launch into all that up front, you’ll give an impression that you’re not that interested in listening to their needs.

Instead, communicate to the prospect that you’d like to ask a series of questions to help uncover what’s most important to them, gain an understanding of their budget, know how soon they want the project accomplished and more. That way, you can be a lot more efficient about what the next steps might be – an efficiency that both you and they surely want.

But what if your questions lead to more questions about them?
Let’s say you've asked about goals, timeline, budget and more. But you’re just not getting the definitive answers on some of those matters. Are you just going to proceed like it’s no big deal that you don’t know how much they want to spend or what their urgency is for moving forward? The more “holes” like this you have during the course of your conversation, the more red flags that should go up. It’s not that this prospect won’t ever be a customer – it’s just that the time may not be right for them to be a customer right now. In reality, if you've done your job up front to make them feel at ease, they should want to help you get the most complete and accurate information you need so you can get started. If it’s not that high of a priority to them or there’s simply not a connection being made, this lack of being forthcoming with information may be your sign that it’s time to move on. That’s often a lot smarter than endlessly holding out hope that the project is going to get started.

Paint the picture for them if they don’t buy.
Again, we’re not talking about being pushy but rather framing the problem for them in a way that pushes them to a definitive “yes” or “no.” Let’s face it. You’re a busy professional and there’s nothing wrong with that. So if you’re unclear on where they stand, give this a try – ask them what they think is going to happen if the project doesn’t occur. Then, being the expert that you are, help them envision the eventual consequences of not moving forward. How much is it going to bother them to put this off? Having that perspective could make the decision become more emotional – which may actually tip the scales in your favor for going ahead.

You don’t have feel like one of those old stereotypes of salespeople to do more business in the coming year. In fact, you may get a lot farther by giving your prospect all of the facts before they make a decision. It’s the kind of transparency and honesty that can instill a greater sense of confidence in your skills and trust in you as an expert. And that goes a long way toward getting down to business.