Why Consultative Selling Does Not Work for Prospecting

Author: 
Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

I was recently working with a new client. His mission is to set up appointments on behalf of his manager. My new client was stressed and frustrated and having no success.

He told me that he was reaching and having brief conversations with some prospects but those conversations went nowhere. He said he was trying to be consultative, to elicit details and to drill down on prospect objections. But no matter what he said or did, he would hear, “I’m not interested,” and a click as the prospect hung up.

This new client is not a beginner. He has been in sales for many years. He told me that he believes in a consultative approach to prospecting and selling yet he was struggling to schedule even one appointment.

Here is the fundamental problem: Consultative selling does not work for prospecting. You cannot consult with someone that will not engage with you. You cannot get answers to your questions, elicit specific details or drill down on anything at all until a prospect agrees to speak with you. Step 1 is getting the prospect’s agreement to have an in-depth conversation.

Many sales professionals that are prospecting want to set an appointment with their prospect. That appointment might be a face-to-face meeting, it could be an online meeting or the entire process could be by phone. That appointment is your prospect’s agreement to have an in-depth conversation. Get the agreement first.

Once a prospect has agreed to an appointment everything changes. It means that they are willing to talk to you. They are willing to give you time. They are willing to engage with you. You can ask open-ended questions, gather in-depth information and even offer solutions when appropriate. Prospects will answer your questions, give you concrete, specific information and even ask you questions – once they have agreed to speak with you.

Prospecting versus selling is the difference between asking to have a conversation and actually having that conversation.

Prospecting and selling are two totally different skill sets. Unfortunately, the two are often taught as though they are exactly the same. They’re not. When you use the wrong skill set for prospecting it is a struggle. Get the appointment first, then consult. That’s the only way it will work.

Wendy Weiss, is known as The Queen of Cold Calling™. She is an author, speaker, sales trainer and sales coach. She is recognized as one of the leading authorities on lead generation, cold calling and new business development. Want to jump-start your team’s prospecting efforts? Too often, sales reps fail because they can’t (or won’t) generate enough leads to build their pipeline. Download the complimentary e-book, "A Practical Guide to Getting Sales Teams to Prospect."

Wendy is presenting a free webinar for Sales & Marketing Management magazine entitled “How to Create a Super-Productive Sales Prospecting Team” on Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Learn more and register here.