The term consultative selling can get thrown around a lot. But what exactly is that type of selling? To bring clarity to that question, we will take a step back and compare consultative sales with what we view as the opposite of that and that is product selling.

One of the big difference between consultative selling and product selling is that consultative sales is more focused on the prospect and product selling is more focused on the product.

When we say focused on the prospect, we are referring to a sales approach where one tries to learn and understand the prospect’s needs first and then tries to provide a solution that aligns with those.

Product selling is more of an approach that just focuses on explaining the product and features available and tries to persuade the buyer into wanting or needing the product that the salesperson sells.

When we break it down like that, it is pretty easy to see why consultative selling can be a more effective, professional, and ethical way to try to sell to prospects.

To help you to see how you might transition from product selling to more of a consultative sales approach, here are some more specific examples of what a salesperson might do when trying to sell to a prospect.

Product Selling

  • Focuses on talking about the product
  • “All about me” approach
  • Assumes that every prospect needs the product
  • Tries to sell the product to every prospect
  • Focuses on selling products to prospects
  • Tries to sell the product at every sales process step
  • Salesperson does most of the talking
  • Pitch centers around explanations and descriptions
  • Talks about the product to try to make the prospect interested
  • Focuses on the salesperson’s interests
  • Tries to overcome objections


Consultative Selling

  • Focuses on talking about the prospect
  • “All about the prospect” approach
  • Questions if the prospect needs the product
  • Tries to find prospects that are a good fit
  • Focused on providing solutions to prospect’s needs
  • Trying to sell the next step in the sales process
  • Prospect does most or equal amount of talking
  • Pitch centers around probing sales questions
  • Talks about benefits, problems, ROI, client examples to make prospect interested
  • Focuses on the prospect’s interests
  • Tries to redirect objections

Each of those examples are polar opposites. You may prefer one side over the other butt if you can see how consultative selling might be a more effective way to go, stop to think about what you do or how you interact with prospects in these areas and make small changes that shift you to being more about the prospect than the product and this will take you in more of a consultative direction.