What Are the Best Tips for Sales Consultants?

Helen Akers

In order to be an effective sales consultant, active listening skills, empathy, and the ability to ask appropriate probing questions are needed. Consultants work best when they get an accurate picture of customer needs and are able to suggest solutions that will meet those needs. It is also important that they thoroughly understand the products and services that they represent in order to properly match them with the appropriate customers.

Good listening skills are critical to success as a sales consultant.
Good listening skills are critical to success as a sales consultant.

Contrary to popular belief, an excessively outgoing personality is not necessary for success as a sales consultant. In fact, those with more subtle personalities and natural listening skills may fare better in the long run. The foundation of success for this job is building relationships. This cannot be accomplished without the ability to actively listen to what a customer is saying between the lines and to proactively address those desires and concerns.

Sales consultants should be able to interact with customers one-on-one.
Sales consultants should be able to interact with customers one-on-one.

Besides being an effective listener, to be successful, a consultant also needs to possess the ability to put himself in the customer's shoes. He or she should not just focus on making a sale and reaching a certain quota, but also on solid customer service. Since customer satisfaction and future sales tend to be directly linked to the quality of customer service, overlooking small details may be detrimental. It is important for the person to be approachable and welcoming, engaging in small conversations that move beyond the actual sales transaction.

A sales consultant should not just focus on making a sale, but also on solid customer service.
A sales consultant should not just focus on making a sale, but also on solid customer service.

Understanding customer preferences and what makes different customers tick is an important aspect of this job. For example, if a commercial retail customer is not comfortable with elaborate displays, it may be best for the consultant to suggest smaller displays or additional shelf space in order to increase sales volume. Effective salespeople tend to be flexible and creative when it comes to devising potential solutions that often involve a compromise from both sides.

The ability to ask probing questions is also important in a successful sales career. Without being able to determine what customers are looking for or need, it will be fairly difficult to satisfy them. It is also important to be able to overcome potential objections by demonstrating how products other than those originally suggested can meet customers' needs.

Obtaining an adequate level of product knowledge is vital for effective sales consultants. Making suggestions and incremental sales can be difficult if the consultant is not aware of the available product options and their features. It is important for him or her to be able to match up the features of the available products with specific benefits that the customer is looking for. Knowledge is also crucial when it is time to educate customers on what the products can provide and how they can positively contribute to the customer's profit levels.

Sales consultants should have a high level of knowledge of the products they are selling.
Sales consultants should have a high level of knowledge of the products they are selling.

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Discussion Comments


A genuinely excellent sales consultant never delays but, instead, focuses and always looks for opportunities ahead so he can build new customers and keep his old ones coming back for more.


@SZapper - You definitely need to have a thick skin if you want to work in sales. You have to remember that people aren't saying no to you, they're saying no to the product that you're selling. So don't take it personally!

This is easier said than done though. I used to work in sales, and I knew that only a small percentage of the customers I talked to would actually buy. It was still really hard not to get discouraged or upset when you spend time talking to someone about the product, and they decide not to buy.


I think if you want to work as an independent sales consultant, you really need to be persistent. In sales, more people are going to say no to you than say yes. So you have to be able to let it roll of your back, and go on to your next sales lead and try to get the sale again. If you get discouraged easily, a career in sales probably isn't for you.


@sunnySkys - I see what you're saying, but sometimes being too aggressive can backfire. I know I'm not very likely to buy a product from pushy sales and marketing consultants. However, I've never actually worked in sales, so for all I know, other customers could respond well to a pushy approach.


I've worked a few different sales consultant jobs, and I hate to say it, but you really need to be naturally aggressive and extremely motivated to be a successful sales consultant. If you focus on being nice to people and being friendly, you're not going to get far. Sometimes you really have to push for the sale to get it, so being a bit aggressive is helpful.

Unfortunately for me, I'm not naturally aggressive, so I didn't do so great as a sales consultant. I hope I never have to work in sales again!


@orangey03 – I think the single most important attribute a candidate for a sales consulting job can possess is good social skills. If you don't know how to interact with others, then you will not do well at this job.

I have dealt with several sales consultants in my life, and the most helpful were always the ones with the best personalities. They made me feel valuable and they listened to what I needed.

I know that knowledge of products is important, but I still argue that social skills are more important. If a sales consultant does not know something about a product or a process, he can always ask someone who does, but if he has no clue about how to treat customers, he cannot learn this. It is something that is ingrained in a person, and I think that some people are just born to hold sales jobs.


I knew a retail sales consultant who worked her way up to assistant manager. She was just very dedicated to her job, and that dedication, combined with a little charisma, helped her progress to the next level.

She had to greet customers who came in the clothing store. She also would open dressing rooms for them and recommend additional items based on what they had in their hands. This often resulted in more sales, because people responded well to her personality, and they took her advice.


I think that anyone working in sales consulting should also know when to be quiet. If a consultant is overly chatty and keeps turning the conversation back to herself, then this could alienate the client.

I knew a sales consultant who was a bit narcissistic. Her clients dreaded to see her coming, because she took up so much of their time with her talking.

Word got back around to her boss, and she got fired. He also told her that she should consider either getting a new career or some therapy.

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