Consultative selling for B2B Sales

29 Jun 2018

How to know what your customers want?

Ask any customers, how many sales executives they meet really know what they want, the answer is quite low.

On one side, many sales executives think they know what their customers want, on the other side, many customers say, most salespeople they meet don’t understand our requirements.  Why does this gap exist? Nobody wants to be misunderstood but still, the gap exists.

One of the primary reason, we have noticed with our interactions with 100’s companies and salespeople is, the majority of salespeople are trained to sell their product and to solve the customer problem. Salespeople like to explain their product or service features.  They don’t want to or competent enough to explain how their product or service exactly meets the customer needs and solves their problem.

Salespeople do this because there is an underlying assumption that customer knows his problem and it is his job to solve the problem. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for B2B selling. If the customer does the job of figuring out how your product can solve his problem, he will not give that much value to the salesperson. Customer will try to play only the price game.

To avoid this, salespeople must make efforts to understand every customer needs and find a value their product or service can provide to the customer. The following 5 step process can be used to understand customer needs,

What kind of company to target

Understanding what kind of organizations that have a clear vision and established demands for your product or service is a must. A lot of effort is wasted chasing wrong organizations. Many organization might seem apt for your product but in their buying cycle if they don’t have the vision or clear demand, then no point approaching them.

Assume you are selling latest technology sensors to MSME’s.  It is very important to know among thousands of MSME’s which MSME have some clear demands or even have the vision to deploy the latest sensor solutions in their organizations. To know this, it is good to have a qualifying questionnaire to shortlist companies or work with marketing teams to run some surveys and gather data and understand the target companies.

What sort of initial information to gather

What need is the customer seeking to address? This is very critical. A good salesperson is one who will collect details about everything that buyer is doing now. This information will help to articulate during the sales call, what customer is doing and what challenges they want to address. A good questionnaire has to be ready for every sales person to gather information.

Engaging with the buyer

Now that you have the relevant information about the customer challenges, their current way of working, it is to work on a solution and explain clear benefits and the value customer gets from your product/service. Develop a clear plan to engage with the customer.

How to begin the conversation

Understanding customer needs can be best done by asking open-ended questions. This is important to look for a “clear value” your solution provides to the customer. The salesperson must be able to explain how their product/service not only addresses their challenges and but provides clear value which competitor products fail to match.

Directing the flow of information

The B2B selling is not a linear process. There is a lot of back and forth engagement happens. So to keep the flow of the information, always better for salespeople to ask questions so that the customer can steer you through its purchasing process and articulate the benefits of your solutions/products.


The 5 steps described above helps any salespeople to know clearly the customer needs and offer a solution with a maximum value that not only meets the needs but delights the customer.