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CONSULTATIVE SELLING: THINKING “SELFISHLY” ABOUT ISSUE RESOLUTION

Our last three blogs explored key elements of the issue resolution process.  As usual, we focused on discovering and meeting our client’s needs.  Now, let’s put it all into a sequence— with special emphasis on how it benefits the consultative salesperson.  The Issue Resolution Sequence:

1- Acknowledge the Objection.  This first step is a “climate-setter.”  What it says about us:  it signals the client that we won’t respond aggressively or defensively, leap to a rebuttal and try to win a (polite) argument.  We respect the client’s right to object, and believe that the issue is worth pursuing.  For example: responding to the objection, “It costs too much,” with the acknowledgement, “Everybody’s especially cost-conscious these days…” sends those signals in three seconds!  What it does for us: our relaxed client will answer our questions more forthrightly. (Click here for acknowledgment techniques.)

2-  Ask for Elaboration.  What it says about us: our thoughtful, in-depth questioning process reassures the client that we really are trying to fully understand her/his objection— not just listening halfheartedly while waiting for our chance to talk.  What it does for us:  Examining the objection in detail enables us to discern the underlying client need(s) which we’ll need to satisfy en route to a mutually acceptable solution.  (Click here for the first of four questioning-technique blogs.)

3-  Paraphrase the Objection as a Need.  An example: the objection, “It’s too expensive,” might be paraphrased as, “If I understand you correctly, you need to be confident that our program is cost-effective.” What it says about us:  Needs are more deep-seated than solutions;  connecting with the client at this level is more powerful and strategic— casting us as true consultative salespeople.  What it does for us:  This step (often called, “reframing”) is our opportunity to assume leadership in this dialogMake sure the client genuinely confirms our understanding of her/his need; if not, we risk misleading both of us as we move toward addressing the need.  (Click here for reframing techniques.)

4-  Address the Need.  Now’s our chance to do what we enjoy most: presenting our product/service as the solution.  What it says about us:  We’re more than pure, theoretical consultants; we also offer the product/services that will actually solve the client’s problem.  What it does for us:  If we accomplished the first three steps well, we should successfully make the sale here.

5-  Invite Others.  Now, we pointedly ask if there are any additional client comments, questions, or subjects for further discussion. (Don’t use negative, suggestive words like “objections,” “concerns,” or “problems.”)  What it says about us:  this step is courageous and client-focused— the ultimate proof  that we’re not just there to use our selling skills on them.  What it does for us:  it might reveal a latent client concern we’ll need to address: better now than later.

In a nutshell: the 5-step issue resolution process makes sure we get our win in the “win-win” outcome.

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