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Sales E Books

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

A Silver Bullet Needs Analysis Question

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A few months ago I was working with our client in Los Angeles and the managers were telling me they had a feeling their salespeople were not unearthing all the needs they should in their client needs analysis process. They cited a number of instances where the Account Executive did go deep enough and huge opportunities emerged for both the prospect and my client. They wanted to see that happening more often. After exploring the problem in more detail, I made several recommendations. One of those turned out to be particularly impactful.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales

Trouble is Your Friend

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Last weekend I set out on mission to Home Depot. Lately, I have found myself involved in a number of short projects around the house, and I had come to two conclusions:

  1. Having a portable light would be very handy.
  2. Even though I have a portable light, it requires a wall plug and I’d rather not haul around a bulky light with a large orange cord and then seek an outlet.

I knew from keeping a casual eye on technology that LEDs and even some of the new efficient fluorescent bulbs put out plenty of light on battery power that lasts a long time. Sure enough, I accomplished my mission. Ten minutes and $31 later, I had my problem solved. I have already used it twice and it works well!

I bet this story doesn’t surprise you at all. You set out to solve problems in your life all the time, and often find good solutions, right? So when it comes time to approach a prospect, why do so many of us forget one of the most fundamental rules about capturing someone’s attention? It begins with identifying a potential problem within the business that needs attention. Otherwise, why would the prospect pay attention to you? The bottom line is that people only buy when there is a discrepancy between what they need to happen and what is actually happening. Motivated prospects are usually in one of two modes:

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales, prospecting

How to Ask Better Needs Analysis Questions

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Have you ever set a goal for yourself to run a race? Whatever the motivation, you decided to do it. It may have been on a whim, but nonetheless you realized there was more to it than showing up the morning of the race and running. You probably found a race that suited your ability, recruited a friend to join you in the adventure, set a training schedule, and off you went. By no means did you show up for registration the morning of with no prep at all. Well, I hope not anyway. If you did, it probably didn’t go as well as you would have liked. You may have looked back and asked yourself what you could have done differently to change the outcome. I’m guessing the answer is, almost always, more training so you were better prepared.

Running a race without adequate training is no different than showing up to a first time meeting with a new prospect unprepared. Yet, it happens. Preparing yourself to ask better needs analysis questions will help you not only finish the race, but to finish with the intended outcome: to get an assignment from the prospect.  

Where to start? Here are a few suggestions for how to ask better needs analysis questions.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales

The Two Biggest Problems B2B Salespeople Have With Proposals

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1.  They don’t hear “yes” often enough.

2.  They don’t hear “no” often enough.

When you talk to salespeople all time as I do, it’s easy to see the biggest problem with many proposals is that they seem to fall into a black hole, an abyss, where salespeople don’t hear either "yes" or "no." That’s a problem.

It’s better to hear “no” than nothing. As a result, salespeople feed pending information to their managers each week, which includes proposals still hanging out there, and sales managers continue to miss their projections with faulty data. Experience shows that each week that goes by between presentation and getting an answer, the chance of closing a proposal goes down. In fact, the closing percentage on proposals over 30 days old is usually less than 10%, far less than what the salespeople are projecting. The reality is a no answer is usually a “no” answer.

So, how can salespeople avoid having their proposals drop off the face of the planet, never to be heard about again? Here are some steps that should be useful:

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Topics: Proposal, Needs Analysis, Sales

Sales Strategy: How Preparation Speeds Up the Sales Process

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New business efforts are full steam ahead! As I am helping execute new business sales drives for different sales organizations from all over the country, I am uncovering a significant difference between how management feels this should be accomplished versus the salespeople charged with generating the revenue.

First, here's what management wants: to hit an aggressive new business goal in a specific amount of time from the very best prospects for their industry, which has been strategized to meet overall growth objectives. This is good; sales organizations need to think this way to grow and compete.

Now here's what salespeople want: to hit that number by calling on as many prospects as they can, so they hopefully get enough first appointments set, so they can complete the rest of the sales process, and hopefully close enough new business. This is NOT good because this philosophy leads to choosing and spinning your wheels on lousy prospects and hasty approaches to getting first appointments. Both of which will certainly impede any salesperson trying to hit their numbers.

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Topics: Proposal, new business development, Needs Analysis, Sales

Ideas Are A Dime A Dozen

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Everybody’s got one. In fact, ideas are not only cheap and plentiful, but their overuse often obscures the work we should really be doing—gaining an understanding of what the prospect is trying to get accomplished. I see so many salespeople (and sales managers) default to premature ideas that end up nowhere.

The temptation is to vomit an idea the minute we see or hear a possible need in the customer’s business. Bad practice. Ask a few more questions and dig a little deeper about what business results the prospect is looking for, what problems exist for them in the marketplace, what opportunities are out there for their category of business they have yet to realize, or what conditions are specific to their category of business. 

Keep in mind that all your competitors are talking about ideas as well. The prospect has heard it all before. What makes an idea valuable is that it addresses a very specific need in that prospect’s business.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales

Making the Most of a First Meeting with a New Business Prospect

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Getting that first appointment with a new business prospect is rarely an easy task. In fact, there is usually a direct correlation between how long it takes to get an appointment and the spending potential of a prospect. Simply put, quality prospects take more time! 

Because so many hours are spent persuading a prospect to meet, it makes sense to get the most out of the meeting. World-class salespeople use the first appointment to uncover business challenges that lead to cash, instead of wasting the opportunity pitching, pitching, pitching. 

After getting comfortable and socializing a bit with the prospect during the opening minutes of the call, try the following steps to get the most out of the opportunity:

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales

Five Tips for a Successful Digital Needs Analysis

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You finally got an appointment with a strong prospect. Now, it is time to prepare for a successful needs analysis to make sure that all the effort you spent getting the appointment isn’t wasted. You want to make sure that you have a strong and thorough needs analysis—because understanding your prospect's business, their specific needs, challenges and expectations is imperative to developing a solution that will achieve results.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Digital, integrated media solution