If we went to the doctor and he didn’t do an examination and he told us to “go home, take two aspirin and call me in the morning” then we would think he was a quack. Well, that’s what sales people do all the time.Many times I’ve seen sales people do this. They begin the presentation of their product without a needs assessment. Sometimes this is called the discovery process. Whatever you call it, the GREATEST SALES PEOPLE DO IT! The weaker sales person jumps into the presentation of their product.Whatever product or service you’re selling there are a series of needs based questions you should ask before you present your product or service. Just like the doctor, the sales person is trying to find out “what’s wrong”. Only the discovery of a problem, a want or a need, justifies a salesperson presenting their product or service.The very best, most professional sales people realize nobody buys something for which they don’t have a want or a need. Their primary goal in every first meeting with a prospect is to uncover that want or need.To professionalize and improve your needs assessment, follow these steps:
- First, write out the most common questions that you ask for needs assessment. If you’re serious about getting better, then do this. 99% of sales people will never take the first step. A good start might be “Are you happy with your current provider?”
- Second, memorize those questions. Even old pros forget these needs based questions from time to time and having them written out and committed to memory just puts one more tool in your sales kit. Of course you can always add to or delete questions based on circumstances. Just as a mechanic has all the tools in his tool kit he doesn't always use then every time and from time to time he gets new tools.
- Many times I will carry these questions on a laminated sheet and if appropriate look at them from a folder on my lap while I am with the prospect. The prospect doesn’t know what you’re looking at and you can do it quickly while he is answering another question you’ve ask.
- The third step is just self-discipline. Promise yourself that you won’t proceed with the presentation of your product or service without first finding or creating a need for that product or service. It’s what people mean where they say. Listen more than you talk.
- Here’s a final tip for improving this process. Get a segue that allows you to introduce this series of needs based questions. Once you’ve started this series of questions, you will be in control and that’s what you want.
Here is the segue I use after I’ve established some rapport. “Bill, before I get too involved in our product or service, let me find out a little bit about your company. Now, I start the needs based questions I’ve memorized.As you perfect this process, you’ll see the number of your interested prospects increase and then more sales will follow.