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Offering Options

After you’ve gone through the process of clarifying your customer’s problem and establishing those areas of concerns or issues of greatest importance, you can start working on the process of offering options.  In order to properly offer options, you need to act as a trusted advisor.  You must become a sales professional who is truly acting in a consultative manner, seeking to determine the best solution that will truly meet a client’s needs

By offering options, you are able to determine that which is most attractive to your client based on the value they will receive and the risks they will avoid.  This phase of the sales process occurs more as a discussion than a sales pitch.  You are advising the customer, looking to solve the problem.  You are not pushing one specific product or service.  To be effective, your final recommendation must to fit the need. It is in this manner that the relationship will be strengthened and the client will be more likely to buy.

As you talk to your customer, find out about their priorities.  Help them visualize possible benefits and risks of action or inaction.  Do so in a genuine manner that shows a desire to help rather than sell.  If you’ve been working with the client long enough and have built a strong enough relationship, they should be very open to this process.

Pose “what if” questions to make a transition into this phase, to establish the demand for a possible solution and to put them in the right frame of mind to accept various options. These questions should be generic and not necessarily focused on you and your product or service.

“What if your customer base would have access to a larger inventory of industrial solutions, enabling you to compete head to head with a larger distributor?”

“What if the cost of maintenance would be eliminated by using a higher grade product?”

“What if the delivery problems you had faced in the past could be eliminated?”

“What if there was a way to make the service accessible to all of your employees from a web-based portal?”

“What if you could recoup part of your investment by disposing of excess inventory?”

In essence, these questions will allow you to gather useful information. The customer will tell you if these questions are important to them or not. They may not care about the cost of delivery – they just want to make sure the product is there on time so they can get it on the shelves. 

You are working to determine the best option for the customer and, in a sense, they are selling themselves on the best course of action.  Once this has been established, your customer will be more receptive to a recommended solution. 

Some examples to consider:

Sales Rep: “What if there was a way to clear out the excess inventory in storage in a way that would allow you to recoup your original investment?”

Customer: “This has been a big issue. We have several older servers on hand that are quite powerful but they just don’t meet our company’s demands. We’d love to find a way to sell them to someone else.”

OR

Sales Rep: “What if there was a way to provide a dedicated Technical Account Manager who would be focused on your company?”

Customer: “I can’t begin to tell you how much that would help. With our current supplier, we have the toughest time getting a hold of someone when we have a problem. Half the time, when we do reach someone, we feel like we’re dealing with a warm body that doesn’t have clue.  It’s terribly frustrating.”

OR

Sales Rep: “If there was a way to customize the order based on your specifications and not on pre-determined options, would that be important?”

Customer: “Oh, I’d definitely say so.  We’ve had the toughest time finding someone who can meet our specs.  We don’t want something off the shelf – we have specific needs.

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