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Sales Best Practice-Discovery: Help Customers’ Understand Their Pain

Help your customer and yourself-identify “the gap”, that space between what an organization currently has and what it wants. looking or searching  for the answer

As I've discussed previously, there are often problems and needs that are not readily obvious to the salesperson or the customer. But with an effective discovery process these hidden needs can be uncovered and addressed.

This post and the next will break down in more detail the two aspects of a customer's business that will help you, as a consultative salesperson, to establish your prospect's status quo and their desired outcome, therefore identifying the gap.

What Does the Prospect Already Have?

The first step in establishing the gap is to determine what the prospect brings to the table.  For instance, here are some areas that should be considered:

  • The Current Situation – Where does the organization currently stand financially?  What products and services are they currently using?  What research and development efforts are being carried out, and what are the results?  What market competition are they currently facing and how are they faring in comparison to their competition?  Are they currently gaining or losing market share?  How is morale?  What is the current culture inside the organization?
  • History and Background – What is the financial, cultural and commercial history of the organization?  Has growth been consistent over time?  What personnel changes have occurred, and what were the effects?  What products or services has the organization ceased using and why?  What acquisitions, changes, successes or failures have brought them to their current situation?
  • Problems and Root Causes – What are the main challenges facing each business unit?  What brought those challenges about?  What issues has the organization already identified as to current product offerings, policies, procedures, personnel, culture?  What aspects of the organization's history or background may be contributing to current problems?  What aspects of their history could help resolve them?
  • Impact and Consequences – What are the immediate and farther-reaching effects of the problems uncovered?  What impact has the organization noted as to historical purchases, changes in methodology, personnel, market conditions or market share?  How have these consequences affected previous buying decisions?
  • Level of Satisfaction – Simply, how satisfied is the organization with its past and present circumstances, as outlined above?  How satisfied are they with how decisions have been handled in the past, and how does that impact current and future decisions?
  • Buying Roles and Conditions – Who is responsible for making purchase decisions?  Who has influence over the decision, and to what extent?  What conditions, past or present, have a bearing on the buying decision?  What is required to get to “yes”?

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, learn more at my next webinar about discovery, “ 10 of the Best and Worst Discovery Questions

The basic purpose of this exercise is to determine what appears on one side of “the gap”, the organization's current situation and exactly how it got there.

In most cases, obtaining this information by means of a mutual discovery process with your prospect will enlighten them on matters they thought they understood thoroughly, further enhancing your reputation in their eyes as a trusted advisor rather than just a salesperson.

Would it be helpful if you knew how effective your discovery process really is? Here is a Free Analysis of Your Discovery Process that will help you answer that question.

But, this establishing of the current situation only identifies half of the gap.  You still need to determine what the prospect wants.  In the next post, I'll delve further into that side of identifying the gap.

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