Determining Client Desires
Because consultative selling often unearths a great deal of information about a clients desires, it’s much easier for a sales ambassador to provide benefits or upsells related to the product they’re selling.
When purchasing a luxury product or service, clients endeavour to define a trust level in the sales ambassador, before they are willing to commit. The more a sales ambassador earns that trust, the more likely they will make a sale.
Affluent clients are swamped with options and information when it comes to luxury products and services, and trust in brands is hard won. In a recent study it was discovered that only 56% of luxury consumers trust salespeople, but almost 82% said they trusted brand experts.
Building relationships and trust
Consultative selling is a philosophy rooted in building a relationship between the sales ambassador and the client. A sales ambassador who practices consultative selling develops a holistic and nuanced understanding of the clients desires, and they then fulfill those desires with a bespoke solution.
But why practice consultative selling instead of product-based selling? Relationships. Building lasting, meaningful relationships with clients is the best way for any luxury business to survive in a competitive industry.
Without strong relationships, businesses risk losing customers. In fact, having poor relationships with clients is one of the biggest reasons why clients brand hop. Put the relationship with your client first and worry about selling your product afterward. In consultative selling we never sell something to a client, we encourage a client to buy something from us. It sounds the same, but it’s very different.
Consultative selling in luxury
But how long has the consultative selling approach to sales been around? Longer than you might think. It was first considered as a sales technique during the 1970s in Mack Hanan’s book “Consultative Selling: The Hanan Formula for High-Margin Sales at High Levels” and slowly gained traction across the main sales industry.
In the luxury industry however, consultative selling had been the norm for hundreds of years before the 1970’s. It is only with the advent of sales funnels, pipelines and systems in the 1980’s that the luxury industry moved away from consultative selling and as an industry we almost lost our incredible ability to main long-term relationships with clients.
Consider this, a mid-market company will consider a long-term relationship as a relationship which lasts 20 years. A luxury company will consider a long-term relationship one which lasts 3 generations.
The right sales environment
Consultative selling cannot survive in a transactional selling environment. If your sales environment is a high volume and high close above all else, consultative selling will never stick in your business.
Consider this, your sales ambassador attends a training where they’re told: Focus on the client. Put your pitch aside; listen to the client. Find out what your client truly desires. Define how best to build that relationship for the long-term. The sales ambassador learns skills to ask better questions, get deeper understanding, and demonstrate more value to their clients.
Then the ambassador arrives back at their workplace. There’s a high value enquiry in progress. What does their manager focus on? “When are you going to close it, and how much is it going to be?”.
If the manager doesn’t focus on the value to the customer, neither will the sales ambassador. And that is why consultative selling fails in 80% of cases.