The Non-Salesy Entrepreneur: Don’t Sell. Consult.

entrepreneurial selling

If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s safe to assume that it’s pretty important to be able to move others, right? It’s a reasonable assumption. Unless you can inspire action from the people around you, it will be very difficult to succeed. Success at entrepreneurial selling means know how to approach your sales process.

We have already established that sales is a skill that entrepreneurs need in order to become incredibly successful. We’ve even covered some helpful sales techniques that make it easier to sell more effectively. Honing your entrepreneurial selling skills will increase your influence and make you the envy of other non-salesy entrepreneurs.

However, mastering effective sales techniques is not enough. Yes, I know it’s shocking, but it’s true.

What if I told you that the best way to sell is to not sell?

I know it sounds crazy, but I would submit to you, dear reader, that your sales mindset is just as important (if not more important) as learning sales techniques.

For this reason, it’s important to remember that as entrepreneurs, we need to consult, not sell. This post will show you why this is essential, and provide some helpful tips.


A Consultative Approach to Entrepreneurial Selling

So what is consultative selling?

I’m so glad you asked! Consultative sales is the practice of working with your customer or prospect to accurately identify their needs and provide them with customized solutions.

It means that we partner with our customers instead of just pitching our products and services. We become our customer’s ally. As their trusted guide, we are there to help them, not just convince them to give us their money.

Sales is no longer about aggressively insisting that the client buys the product you want to sell them. It is working with your client to find out what they truly need.

Of course, the hope is that through consultative selling, we can get the customer to see that our product will actually make their life easier. This is important.

It’s important because it allows you to sell your product while cementing a positive relationship with your customers. It enables you to get your team members to buy into your vision. It can even help you negotiate better with other companies. This is the purpose of consultative selling for an entrepreneur.

When a customer feels like they have been helped instead of sold, they will become loyal followers of your brand. As a matter of fact, this is the motivation behind marketing techniques like content marketing, which focus on building brand loyalty through providing value.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, you may think that taking a more consultative role might slow down the sales process. In some cases, this might actually be true. But the impetus behind consultative selling isn’t the short-term gain. It’s the long-term relationship that you are after.

So the question is, why do it? Why focus on consulting with our prospects rather than just selling them? Read on…


It’s The Right Thing To Do

Working with your customer to find the correct solution is the right thing to do.

I’ve been in sales for over a decade. Throughout my sales career, I have tried to focus on presenting solutions that actually speak to the customer’s need, not just what I want them to buy.

In some cases, I was pressured to sell what was best for my employer. In others, I was allowed to work with the customer to actually figure out what they needed.

Guess which way was more satisfying to my customers? That’s right. The consultative approach was much more pleasing to the customer.

And you know what? It made me feel better about the transaction as well. Consultative selling allows you to actually make a positive impact on others, which is why you became an entrepreneur in the first place, right?


The Objective Is To Help Them Win

Here’s a story. I was speaking with a customer who didn’t believe they needed a specific service I was selling. It wasn’t a surprise as many of my clients felt the same way until they realized what it was.

As the call went on, I proceeded to ask the customer a series of questions about his business. I got a better understanding of who the customer was and what his goals were. I already knew he needed the service, so I asked questions that were designed to help me figure out how I could get the customer to see that he needed the service.

I didn’t try to disguise what I was doing. The customer caught on and acknowledged that my questions were leading somewhere. He was right. I proceeded to explain to him why I asked the questions and how the service actually related directly to the needs of his business.

This opened up a more in-depth conversation about his business and what his goals were. In the end, he kept the service and actually thanked me for asking questions that challenged his initial assumptions.

Of course, this doesn’t happen in every case, but in the end, it can help your client. If, through the course of my questioning, I found that the customer really didn’t need the service, I wouldn’t have sold him on it. That would be wrong. Sales is meant to actually benefit the customer, not just your wallet.

When you engage in consultative selling, you are trying to help your client win. You are trying to contribute to their success because you actually care about them. If you’re not the type who wants to see your customers succeed, consultative selling isn’t for you.

Here are some helpful tips that will help you become a more consultative seller:


Ask Good Questions

The hallmark of any proficient consultative salesperson is the ability to ask good questions.  When you ask good questions, you accomplish two things: you gain more knowledge of your customer, and you build trust.

The more the customer opens up to you, the “stickier” the relationship becomes. It will make them more likely to allow you to influence their decision.


Listen Carefully

It’s not enough to ask great questions. You must also engage in active listening.

You should be listening for the following things:

  • Problems that your client is having
  • Your client’s ultimate goals
  • The ways in which your services could help

The idea is to get a good understanding of what your customer needs and whether or not you can help. When you know this, you will be able to better serve them.


Use Your Expertise

Now that you know what your client needs, it’s up to you to provide the solution. If you have determined that you are able to help your client, you must present your solution in the most effective way possible.

Use your expertise to consult with your client and come up the solution that is right for her needs. Resist the temptation to sell your client the service or product that gets them to spend as much money as possible. Remember, your objective is to provide a great customer experience, not convince them to spend money they don’t need to spend.

If you’re doing this right, you’re acted as their guide. You’re helping to figure out how to solve their problem.



Consultative selling seems counterintuitive at first. It’s a different approach from the more commonly-used sales methods. However, it’s this type of entrepreneurial selling that will increase your influence with your client and turn them into brand ambassadors.

The better the experience they are given, the more likely they are to share their experience with the people in their network. When you focus on helping instead of selling, you will close more deal.




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