Selling Is Simple, as Long as There’s Trust

These four salespeople use a consultative approach to win customers and keep them coming back.

Written by Cathleen Draper
Published on Jul. 11, 2022
Selling Is Simple, as Long as There’s Trust
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Today’s customers want more than just a good price and a solution that works. They want a relationship with the person who sells them that solution.

“Real recognizes real,” Lindsay Carr, senior account executive at SQUIRE said. “It’s simple: people buy from people they trust and like.”

It’s true: A recent Dale Carnegie study found 73 percent of respondents believe trust is important to building a relationship with salespeople. For salespeople who use a consultative approach to selling, building trust is part of the sales pitch. 

Consultative sellers like Carr ask questions about customers’ goals and challenges, which helps them understand what kind of product or solutions they need, and if the sellers’ product is that solution. 

Those questions also lead to a higher sales success rate, according to Gong, a revenue intelligence company. And discovering what the customer needs helps consultative sellers share relevant information, like data and tangible examples of success, to help them make an informed decision.

“The likelihood of a client spending more with my team again is high because they can expect a certain level of comfort, expertise and excellent quality of work,” Chris Nace, senior account executive at Stack Overflow, said.

Built In Austin sat down with four sellers to find out exactly how keeping it real pays off..

 

Chris Nace
Senior Account Executive • Stack Overflow

 

Stack Overflow’s products include a public Q&A platform and employer branding, content and advertising, all of which help tech brands capture institutional knowledge, collaborate and reach developers with relevant content.

 

Have you always had a consultative approach to sales, or is this a relatively new shift for you?

I was mentored and taught to sell with a consultative approach early in my career. I’ve had the opportunity to sell an eclectic mix of products and services across the healthcare, legal and tech industries, which helped me develop my consultative sales style. I’ve adopted methodology from great works like “The Challenger Sale,” “Spin Selling” and “To Sell is Human,” which were informative in shaping my sales approach. Insights and consultative selling convey an honest, sustainable and natural flow of information in this age of self-research while still ensuring that you’re setting your clients up for success long term. As consultative advisers, we are here to give the customer and client the most complete and relevant data for them to make an informed purchasing decision. A great sales process is forming a solid, trusting relationship with your client. There is no better way to build trust than to be transparent, share your experiences, and prepare them for how to use and consume what they’ve purchased while managing expectations.

 

How do revenue results and client relationships change when salespeople take a consultative approach to their work? 

Revenue will automatically increase when salespeople take a consultative approach to their work. My team recently provided insights to a client on industry trends and best practices. Our data and past expertise allowed us to advise the client on spending precise advertising dollars to take on a high share of visibility for a particular geographic area. The client was highly impressed with the quality of the marketing-qualified leads, which resulted in an extension of the project with dollars for continued campaign iterations. 

Sales today is less about persuading and more about building relationships.’’

 

What would you say to a person or team that is resistant to the idea of shifting to a more consultative approach?

A consultative approach helps to build long-term relationships and ensures that clients are set up for success, which creates trust that will lead to repeat business. There is much more stability and predictability in maintaining a healthy working relationship with a trusted client than continuously trying to solicit new business. Sales today is less about persuading and more about building relationships so that you can match clients with the tools they need, when they need them. They will seek you out when they are ready in their own time with the relevant data and research obtained to make that informed purchase.

 

 

Art Lopez
VP, Business Development

 

findhelp connects people with social care programs, including food, health, housing and employment programs. 

 

Have you always had a consultative approach to sales, or is this a relatively new shift for you? 

I’ve never really been a traditional salesperson. I’ve worked at early-stage companies throughout my career and have worn multiple hats in a variety of growth-oriented roles, and I’ve helped each business grow in all areas: product, commercialization, business development, implementation, account management and growth operations. My experiences have given me a holistic and unique perspective to communicate value to customers as a trusted source and subject matter expert. 

Buyers today are more sophisticated due to their access to information. They want to work with someone who is trustworthy, knowledgeable and curious –– someone who can help them meet their needs and goals with an industry perspective.

Given findhelp’s position in the social care space, it is even more critical for our client-facing teams to proactively provide guidance and leadership to our clients and partners to help them be successful.

 

How do revenue results and client relationships change when salespeople take a consultative approach to their work? 

When you truly understand a client’s goals and needs, you can be honest and realistic about meeting their expectations and become a trusted source. If a buyer has unrealistic expectations about a product or solution, you can be transparent about what’s truly realistic and create a path forward to meet their needs. I do this by sharing tangible examples of how I’ve worked with other customers to meet similar needs and goals. I act as a trusted advisor and don’t over-promise just to close a deal.

Customers appreciate this approach because it portrays honesty, expertise and a commitment to a long-term relationship with alignment on expectations and getting the project on the right track from day one. This ultimately supports revenue growth for the business and positive results for the customer.

What might work for one person may not work for another.’’

 

What would you say to a person or team that is resistant to the idea of shifting to a more consultative approach?

It’s important for people to be themselves. What might work for one person may not work for another. I would be interested to learn more about what is currently working and how it’s driving results. From there, I would share some ideas and strategies on how to incorporate a more holistic, consultative approach that is centered on a curiosity to understand prospective buyers’ goals and an investment in becoming an industry subject matter expert who uses tangible examples to help them accomplish those goals. This would show them how a consultative approach could help drive better short and long-term results.

 

 

Lindsay Carr
Senior Account Executive • SQUIRE

 

SQUIRE is a platform for barbershops that offers a one-stop solution for small business entrepreneurs to run and grow their business.

 

Have you always had a consultative approach to sales, or is this a relatively new shift for you? 

I have always had a consultative approach to sales, and I have my yoga and wellness roots to thank for that. Before entering the SaaS sales industry, I sold in the health and wellness industry in New York City. I had to quickly learn how to sell mindfulness and wellness to a demographic that is all hustle and bustle. It became a unique balance of consulting with control.

Barbershop owners are busy. My job is to show them a better way to do business, which starts with setting them — and their business — up for success. When I started selling SaaS to barbershop owners, I quickly realized my sales approach should reflect my personality. I became intentional, genuine and consultative with my approach, which led me to close more deals at a higher velocity than ever before. 

I’m intentional with the questions I ask, genuine when strategizing how customers can reach their goals, and consultative in guiding them toward the best packages and practices using our platform. 

At the end of the day isn’t that what we all long for: to be seen, heard and to feel important?’’

 

How do revenue results and client relationships change when salespeople take a consultative approach to their work? 

My success at SQUIRE, specifically, revenue results, comes directly from the connections I make with barbers and barbershop owners. These client relationships equate to 50 percent or more of my monthly sales. The more people you know, the more people know you. People talk, especially in our industry. When you leave a lasting impression on someone — good or bad — they talk about their experience. When a client trusts me with their business, and then sees their own success first hand using the tools I’ve recommended to them, they love to share that experience with their network. Which in turn builds a great pipeline of referrals for me to continue to sell too. 

I always go out of my way to make sure that clients always feel special. At the end of the day isn’t that what we all long for: to be seen, heard and to feel important? Anyone who decides to continue their sales journey using a consultative approach will see a huge increase in client relationships, referrals and revenue results.

 

What would you say to a person or team that is resistant to the idea of shifting to a more consultative approach?

I’d ask the same thing I ask some prospects: Are you open to crazy ideas? 

The only constant in life is change, and a career in sales will always present opportunities to evolve. I’d recommend they try it and see how it suits them — I bet that a consultative approach driven from genuine connection feels more natural than their old approach did anyway. 

If they want to close that deal, I suggest they win a customer over from the jump. Once a customer feels the connection and a salesperson has earned their trust, the sale is in the bag.

 

 

Enboarder team photo in front of a boat
Enboarder

 

Keira Maldonado
Sr. Mid-Market Account Executive

 

Enboarder is a people activation platform that enables businesses to transform employee programs like onboarding and learning and development into simple, people-first journeys.

 

Have you always had a consultative approach to sales, or is this a relatively new shift for you? 

A consultative approach is the only approach I’ve ever used. I ask prospects questions to understand their processes and the challenges they face, which helps me figure out what our product can solve for them. I then tailor the demo to their needs and make it more conversational. Having a conversation makes me feel more like an extension of their team rather than a stereotypical salesperson.

 

How do revenue results and client relationships change when salespeople take a consultative approach to their work? 

A consultative approach helps build trust with the client. They’re willing to be open and honest about their challenges because they believe I actually want to solve their problems, not just push a product. It creates a more interactive process during which I’m not leading a traditional sales cycle, but instead I’m building relationships and solving the problems of qualified buyers. My customers are then advocating for the solutions we’ve worked on together with their internal teams. The consultative approach helps build relationships that really last, so when a customer I’ve spoken to moves to another company, they reach out directly to start up a conversation at their new gig. The results speak for themselves — I’ve crushed my quota every quarter.

Working in sales is infinitely more enjoyable when you’re solving problems and helping people.’’

 

What would you say to a person or team that is resistant to the idea of shifting to a more consultative approach?

Working in sales often carries a negative stigma, and I think that’s because not enough companies or teams are approaching sales in a consultative way. I didn’t think sales would be something I would enjoy or be interested in because of that stigma. Working in sales is infinitely more enjoyable when you’re solving problems and helping people, and that’s what I do every day. My manager always reminds us to imagine ourselves as a client or prospect and think about whether we’d be willing to truly partner with someone that’s super transactional, or if we’d prefer to partner with someone who approaches the sale as a consultant that’s committed to helping the organization improve. I don’t know anyone who would prefer to be the first option in that example.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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