Unearth Your Customers' Needs7 Feb, 2006 By: Howard Meltzer imageSource
Unearth Your Customers' Needs
You have a need and I have a
want. That is the essence of a sales transaction. Whether it’s bartering a goat
for bushels of corn or presenting a production imaging system to reduce a
prospect’s cost of operation. I want to make that sale and the customer needs my
So why do we make it such a complicated ritual dance?
Generally, the problem lies at the feet of the sales manager. Far too many
dealerships do not utilize a system nor do they train their reps on the
straightforward techniques and requirements needed to establish a needs profile
with their prospects. This profile must be developed because prospects don’t
always know that they need what you are offering.
Discovering the Needs
Develop a talk track laced with four types of questions designed to both
establish a comfortable rapport and drag out the problems and issues that your
1. Begin with open-ended comparative questions about the prospect’s
business such as, “Do you sell your products/services through a direct sales
force or a distribution channel?”
2. Ask specific, probing questions designed to find their pain. This
approach will elicit direct responses on the types of problems and the severity
3. Focus in on the key problems with “effect” questions that elicit
information on how your prospect’s problems influence their business so that you
can begin to determine their real needs.
4. Move the discussion from the specific problems towards the value of a
solution by asking, “So, having a system that would eliminate those problems,
would that be important to you?”
(ProPoint has developed a series of talk tracks and sample forms that will take
you through the entire process. We will be pleased to send them to you on
Develop a company form that points out a series of potential requirements such
as ease of use, improved reliability, and low cost per image. This will build to
a profile of agreed needs.
The form should also contain check boxes for each requirement that the sales rep
will fill in with the prospect on a priority scale from one to ten. Based on the
ratings listed on the form, the rep should ask the prospect to determine if the
three highest rankings are, indeed, the most important needs. This will create
the three main buying criteria.
This very simple process leads directly to a call for action. If properly
presented, the talk track will lead to another appointment for the sales rep to
present an analysis of the prospect’s needs and to recommend a solution.
It is up to the sales manager to take the responsibility to provide the tools,
the training, the reinforcement, and the coaching necessary to make the sales
group both comfortable and confident in the process.
The bottom line is if this technique is properly executed, it can shorten the
sales cycle and increase your close ratio.
Howard Meltzer is the managing partner of Pro/Point Management Services,
Inc., a national sales management consultation and on-site sales training
company for office equipment dealers. For more information, call 904.285.8542 or