Stop just reacting when your customer says they have a need! Rather, ask questions to help them understand their needs.
In years gone by, it was fairly simple for a salesperson to approach a prospect, ask them what they needed, then convince them that whatever product or service they had to sell would fit that need perfectly.
In the 21st Century, however, this simplistic, needs-based sales paradigm no longer works. You need a more robust
Because today’s buyer in the B2B environment is far too savvy and well-educated to accept that any pre-made “happy meal” solution is
what their organization needs to cure its ills.
Today’s B2B buyer has a huge selection of products and services to choose from, with customizable features just a mouse-click away. Research, reviews, customer feedback and competitors are all freely available to anyone with the desire to look, so most of your customers will know as much if not more about what they’re buying than you will.
In addition, the average B2B customer’s problems and needs are more complex, more difficult to identify and prioritize than they used to be.
Therefore, as you may have noted in your own experience, most customers know what their
are, but don’t really have a handle on their actual
Problems versus Needs
What’s the difference? How can someone know their problem, but not know what they need to fix it?
Consider this simplified example, based on an old adage:
Bob is hungry. He looks through his cupboards and his fridge, and finds nothing to eat.
Joe, Bob’s best friend, drops by on his way to a nearby trout stream and finds Bob sitting on the front porch. Bob complains to Joe that he is desperately hungry.
Now, Joe has a choice to make doesn’t he?
See, Bob understands his problem: he’s hungry and wants to eat. Joe has no trouble understanding the problem either, and both of them could easily agree that what Bob truly needs is to eat something. And quick!
But, Joe also happens to be a counselor salesperson, too. So, rather than immediately jumping to the old needs-based conclusion and bringing Bob a fresh trout from the stream, what does he do?
He tells Bob to grab his hat and rubber boots and to join him. He teaches Bob how to fish. After all, no grown man in Bob’s area (within sight of a beautiful trout stream) ought to go hungry.
And now, instead of just being satisfied for the day, Bob can be satisfied every day because he’s learned how to provide his own food.
As I said, this example is simplistic, but it makes the point:
To most effectively solve a customer’s problems, both the customer and the salesperson need to fully understand more than just the basic problem itself and the surface need that the problem seems to suggest.
Rather, they need to dig deeper into root causes, gleaning all the facts and feelings involved. They need to establish the range of available options and the pros and cons of each so that both agree that the final solution provides the most effective means of addressing the problem.
This investigation is a vital piece of the modern B2B sales puzzle:
The Discovery Process
In future posts, I’ll be digging deeper into this fascinating and constantly evolving process to help salespeople fulfill their preferred roles as trusted advisers. Please feel free to include any questions or comments below so we can discuss!
If you can’t wait for future posts to learn more about the discovery process drop me a
we can schedule a 15 minute conversation to discuss your situation.