Most of us think consultative sales techniques need only be applied to big ticket items like large software purchases or luxury cars. Not true.

Unless your business involves asking, “Would you like fries with that?” you probably should be selling consultatively.

Here’s a great example.

A new warehouse membership club opened in my neighborhood. I’d never been to this particular brand of store before so I went in to check it out and get my free 30- day membership. At the customer service counter, I was greeted by a representative who immediately went into a sales spiel. Although memorized, I have to admit it was pretty impressive. Her goal was to get me to forego the free membership and join on the spot. She presented me with offer after offer after offer to do just that. Apparently, my $50 investment on that day would have netted me about a billion dollars in coupons. The sheer length of her pitch and her seasoned delivery almost had me. Almost. Because the second she stopped talking, I had a second to think. I looked at the vast array of coupons and realized I didn’t even use half the stuff. My answer was no.

I can’t fault her. She was doing her job as instructed and she did it well. But what if she had been trained to ask just a couple of questions before her pitch?

  • 1. Are you a regular warehouse shopper?
  • 2. What types of products do you buy most often?

If she had known the answer to these two simple questions, she could have simply tailored her pitch for me – and gotten the deal.

If she had known more about my experience with warehouse clubs and my particular interests (i.e. household products vs. electronics) she could have easily geared her presentation to my needs without the distraction of extraneous information. She might have even cited specific savings opportunities based on my interests. Offering a potential customer many broad choices, especially things that aren’t important to them, can actually kill a deal rather than reinforce it. As customers, we only want to buy what’s valuable to us!

Except for the most mundane of purchases like gas for our cars, transactional sales are a thing of the past. Today, each prospective customer is a target and our job is to shoot the arrow right into the bulls eye in order to get the deal.

One final observation: once I said no to joining, my rep’s attitude did a total reversal. The smile went away and she rushed to process my free card as though she were trying to get rid of me. In sales, it’s important to remember, a “no” might just be a “no, for now.” Just because I don’t buy today, doesn’t mean I might not buy tomorrow or refer a potential customer. Never miss the opportunity to create an ambassador for your company. Often, people who sing your praises may not even be customers – just people who think you’ve got something special to offer.