Before the real needs analysis work, do some pre-meeting research... Presearch. Yes, it still happens.
There are still account managers who open a Client Needs Analysis with, “So, how many years have you been in business?” Or, “How many locations do you have?” Or, “Do you have a website?”
These kinds of CNA questions don’t ask; they tell. They tell the client, “This person has not done one stitch of research before asking me to give up this hour.” Or, “This salesperson is lazy.” Or, “This individual does not value my business very much if they couldn’t do a little homework in advance.”
How to do pre-meeting research. (You probably know, but if you know anyone making the mistakes I’ve mentioned above, here are some tips you can share with whoever that salesperson is.)
- Visit the client’s website. Scour it for the basics, like company history, number of locations, important achievements, annual reports, key personnel, etc. Now you can know without asking, and use your valuable CNA time getting to more meaty questions.
- Do a Google search of the company to see if there’s any random information out there, beyond their website.
- Search again, this time at LinkedIn. See if key players in the company belong to any particular groups that you can begin to watch. What else has the owner, CEO, or COO done prior to running their current company?
- Develop some amazing questions. Once the basic questions have been answered (through pre-meeting research), start crafting some well-thought-out, business-growth-oriented questions that few other sellers would take the time or have the knowledge to ask.
- Get help from this CSS resource: “The Art of Asking Questions”
Remember that with every question you ask, a question is better answered in the prospect’s mind: “Just how strategic and energetic is the person I’m talking to right now?”