Consultative Selling vs. Traditional Selling

I’d like to spend some time talking to you about the process of consultative selling, but I believe that we must first define exactly what consultative selling is. To most new salespersons, selling is selling is selling – but this simpy isn’t the case.

In a traditional sales environment you, as the salesperson, have a product you need to sell. When you approach a potential client you are prepared to share all of the benefits of the product itself and convince your client as to why he should make a purchase. Your job is to manipulate the customer into believing he wants your product even if he actually has no need for it.

During the traditional sales process the salesperson maintains control of the conversation from start to finish. He asks questions and then makes assumptions as to what the client needs. At the end of the conversation he may attempt to determine whether or not he’s done a good job convincing the client that he wants the product.

The consultative selling process is much different. Consultative sales is not nearly as manipulative as traditional sales, if it can be called that at all. A salesperson engaged in a consultative sales process takes the time to learn about the client and his needs. He asks tons of questions and allows the client ample time to answer them as opposed to trying to corner the client with his own line of thought.

The goal of the consultative sales person is to determine what needs the client has and to then present ways to address those needs. I reiterate – the focus here is on need whereas the traditional sales person depends on a client wanting something. These are two very different concepts.

Now that we’ve defined both types of sales we’ve laid the groundwork for future discussions. Until then, think about your sales methods and let me know – do you engage in traditional or consultative sales?


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat left the corporate world when he was 30 and risked it all to “See if he could cut it as an entrepreneur”. He’s been a serial entrepreneur ever since! Sean now owns several online and offline businesses in addition to one of the most successful management and sales development organisations within the UK. Sean is a bestselling author and founder and MD of international training firm MTD Training. Sean has been referred to in the media as a thought leader within the sales, maketing and busines improvement industry, and has been featured on CNN International, the BBC, ITV, The Guardian and in big name magazines such as Arena Magazine, Marketing Weekly and Business Zone.