In sales, it is easy to make self-defeating assumptions when a prospect pummels you with one objection after another. It is easy to think that for some mysterious reason that they’re not really telling you, the client doesn’t like you, your company, or the products and services you represent. The problem may be that you’re focused on objections rather than objectives.
If you’re spending too much time dealing with the prospect’s objections, it’s probably because you’ve lost sight of the objectives.
A thoughtfully executed needs analysis defends you against late-stage objections, because the right questions lead you to the prospect’s objectives. And by “thoughtfully executed,” I mean:
- Study everything you can about the client ahead of time, using commonly available sources like their website, news releases, location visits, their presence in social media, and even an inside coach or two if you can find them.
- When you originally set the meeting, you probably used a Valid Business Reason to make the prospect think it would be smart use of their time. What was that reason? Why is that issue so compelling for the prospect? Where can you go to learn more about that issue?
- Use the information you’ve gained through those first two bullet points to inform your needs analysis questions, and write them out ahead of the meeting.
- A needs analysis is designed to help you uncover a challenge (or more than one challenge) that you can help the prospect solve. Don’t stop the needs analysis the moment you hear an opportunity to pitch your product. Follow the process through to uncover other challenges that may be even bigger or that you can help solve with a more comprehensive solution.
- After each answer the client provides, take a breath! Demonstrate that you’re thinking about what they just said… and that you were not instead thinking about the next thing you were going to say.
- When the prospect has shown particular concern or enthusiasm about an issue they’re facing, follow up with prompts like, tell me more, explain that a little more fully, or what do you mean by that?
Yes, preparing for a bona fide needs analysis meeting takes more time and effort than a sloppy one. But the more time you spend here, the less time you’ll spend worrying and wondering why the sale has not yet closed. It pays to spend more time understanding the prospect’s objectives, because you’ll spend less time dealing with their objections.