Consultative Selling – Part 1

Tuesday, 5th December 2017

Selling is both a science and an art

In an ever competitive and changing business world the term “we’re all in sales” should resonate with all of us, at least it should anyway!  Marketing is often seen as a silver bullet and a way to differentiate the business or to define a USP of the product or service we provide.  It often asks us the basic questions around what we might do best or what do we do differently.

However, at the heart of any business are people and if we are “all in sales” and the adage “people buy from people” is true (which I do believe) then it would make a whole load of sense if we could understand people, ourselves included, a little better.

The consultative sales approach is not a new one but is one in which the needs of the customer are used as the basis for the sales dialogue. If you have ever read Stephen Covey’s great book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” you will know that most people do not listen to understand but to respond.

Great sales or business development people have developed their ability to listen empathetically with the sole intention to understand.  It is a critical talent for sellers because competing in the world of selling today means understanding the changing world of your buyers.  Adjusting your approach accordingly will (hopefully) drive meaningful value for both parties: a win-win.  In a “real” dialogue nobody is trying to win!

The Marketing Funnel

So where does all this fit in with real business life and what does it mean for me?

We have all come across a sales or marketing funnel, something similar to the one below perhaps?

The dialogue (or sales meeting) that we mentioned above usually takes place in and around the “Like” and “Trust” area of the funnel and is going to be the area we look at first in Part 1 of our walk around the topic of Consultative Selling.  Part 2 will be discussed at a future Hot Topic event on the 29th March.

Why Do People Like Certain People?

Research is pretty clear on this question; we like certain people when we find in them a mixture of the things that we like about ourselves and the opposite of the things we dislike about ourselves.

In business this means things like communicating with them in the way they prefer or giving them the right type of information conveyed in the right way.

So if we can do this more efficiently, in a better way, we should find more people who like us, are drawn to us and the product or service we provide? Easy… right?

The Colour Wheel

The Colour Wheel is a personality profiling technique which was devised by Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology – he was also a good mate of Sigmund Freud!

The technique will help you to gain a better awareness around your personal profile and behaviours and (when you become proficient and knowledgeable) of your clients and colleagues behaviours. Having this understanding will help you to adapt, amend and modify how you communicate, influence and motivate them.

Figure 2 below shows the four colours that are used to describe different personalities and behaviours. Research shows that typically 80% of the population will have a dominant colour. Understanding which one will help us to define the right way to communicate with that person.

The Colours : Fiery Red

People with a high level of Fiery Red energy know what they want and have little difficulty in articulating their conclusions. They are concerned primarily with action. They deal quickly with the present situation and appear to have little concern for the past. Their responses are efficient, effective and focused. They know what they want and where they are going. They are impatient with delays. They may show less concern for the feelings of others or for personal relationships. Others can see their actions as hard or critical because they limit the attention they pay to their relationships. They seek power and control over situations.

How to communicate with a Fiery Red – Be bold, be quick, be gone!

The Colours : Sunshine Yellow

People with a high level of Sunshine Yellow energy spend their efforts racing towards their dreams for the future. They build the possibilities of tomorrow. They move from one idea or activity to another, impatient to find the vision of the moment. Their behaviour can be fun and others get caught up in this. They may be perceived by others as more imaginative and creative than the other colours because they focus their attention upon futures and often intuitive visions. They may become completely committed to an idea and then discard it within a few weeks if it loses its excitement. They may often appear to others as shallow, impractical and unrealistic at times of difficulty. Their optimism can mean that they will be prone to denial at times.

How to communicate with a Sunshine Yellow – Involve them! Don’t give them too much detail! Inspire and recognise them!

The Colours : Earth Green

People with a high level of Earth Green energy are concerned with the feelings and relationships of people. Their concern for other people’s welfare can often lend personal warmth to a situation. They are sensitive to the values implicit to people’s actions and can act as useful barometers to the ethical consistency of an organisation’s actions. They can be slow or reluctant to modify their personal values despite the apparent logic of an argument or situation. They can tend to avoid decisions that could involve violation of their values or risking the unknown.

How to communicate with an Earth Green – Listen to them. Don’t ‘tell’ them something! Support their team and listen and be fair to everyone in it.

The Colours : Cool Blue

People with a high level of Cool Blue energy live their lives according to the principles, facts and logic they find in reality. They like to analyse all the possibilities to ensure they will avoid making illogical or ill-informed judgements.
They are planners, organisers, administrators and academics with the ability to work out tasks systematically from start to finish. As a result of their thoroughness they are often reluctant to make or express decisions quickly. Facts, logic and principles can appear more important than personal friendships or personal gratification. They may be seen as detached or even rather cold at times.

How to communicate with a Cool Blue – Bring all the detail! Don’t invade their personal space! Allow them to ask lots of questions in order to get the facts, they need the facts.

If you want any further details on this topic or are interested to find out your dominant colour or how The Marketing Centre or The FD Centre might help in your business then email us at:

Ged Leigh – [email protected]
Andy Collier – [email protected]

The authors of this article are Ged Leigh and Andy Collier. Ged is the Regional Director at The Marketing Centre (, the number one provider of proven part-time Marketing Directors to ambitious businesses. Andy is the Regional Director for The FD Centre (, the world’s leading provider of part-time and flexible Finance Directors.