Sales is about selling someone a solution. You make the sale when you identify needs your client is motivated to solve, and rally your company to apply their resources and capabilites to solve that problem. As eager salespeople, we may try to solve the first problems we identify. But let's look at why that may often be the wrong problem to solve.
Why would salespeople try to solve less important needs?
- We grab the first need we hear and think we can solve. Perhaps to avoid wasting the prospect’s time—or our own.
- We zero in on a need the prospect expressed with passion. Seems like a good indicator, but we didn't take the time to learn more about why it’s important or urgent.
- We zero in too soon. The prospect may be expressing a real need, but not one they are prepeared to spend enough money to solve.
The Richter Scale analogy can help evaluate the significance of your client's needs.
Even if you don’t live in an earthquake-prone zone, you know that the higher the value on the Richter Scale, the more it will “rock your world.” We coach B2B salespeople that, as they learn about possible needs and problems, they stop pitching solutions and start considering how each of them would register on two different Richter Scales—the prospect’s and their own.
Needs rock the client’s Richter Scale when:
- It’s very important to them.
- There is a big payoff for them if they solve this problem.
- They are able to measure the results or the return on investment.
- They’re willing to invest the money necessary to truly solve the problem.
If the need or problem you’ve agreed to solve doesn’t rock the prospect’s Richter Scale, it's' less likely you'll (a) get an order, (b) deliver measurable results, or (c) do business again.
Needs should rock your Richter Scale too:
- Does solving this need align well with your company’s resources and capabilities?
- Are you able to provide—and demonstrate—a measurable result or return on investment?
- At the investment level you’re proposing, is your company willing and able to devote the time, money, and resources necessary to solve the problem and deliver value?
Conduct your own Richter Scale exercise before determining if you have identified the best need as an assignment. Ask the prospect additional questions to be sure the need really registers on their Richter scale, and ask your manager questions if you have any concerns about whether it would register high on your company’s Richter scale.
When the need is registering high for your prospect, and is in your company’s sweet spot for delivering value, you’ve set yourself up for success!