“Never ask a question that you
don’t already know the answer to.”
– Arnie Becker, L.A. Law
“Knowledge is Power.”
- Thomas Hobbes
These two quotes are two of my all-time favorite quotes. In my 20+ years of being in the advertising business, I must have quoted them thousands of times. And almost all of them right before a meeting with a prospective client. Yes, the legendary needs analysis, where would salespeople be without these very important first encounters?
The needs analysis is the most important meeting you will ever have with any client, ever! If improving sales performance in your organization is important, read on!
During the first needs analysis meeting, you will set the tone for your relationship. You will either lay a solid foundation on the bedrock of your expertise or on the sands of failure. This is the moment your potential client will learn whether or not to trust you and begin to believe that you can actually help them. Without preparation for this call, you are increasing your chances for failure.
I don’t know about you, but I like to win, which means that I also like to stack the deck in my favor. And to do that, you MUST be prepared to ask the right questions… and more importantly, to get the right answers.
Alright… I can hear your responses now. But, Trey, isn’t the needs analysis where we get answers? Where we find their significant marketing challenges, and learn about their business?
Yes, Yes, Yes!
That is exactly what you are doing in the needs analysis; however, if you are properly prepared by researching the client, you should have some powerful “intel” on your prospect that will lead you right to their most important marketing challenge. Like Arnie Becker said, “Never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to.”
So, how do you get that important “intel”?
The answer is simple, yet difficult. It’s easy to do, but will take some effort. Trust me, it will be worth the time.
1) The Internet— Yes, the internet. Just Google the company’s name, owner’s name, email addresses, etc. You will be amazed what you can find with a little creative searching. I’ve found “long lost” PDFs from trade meetings with sales data of clients. And when I told the owner about it, he was shocked and thankful that I told him where to find it and quickly deleted it!
2) Trade Associations— They have a lot of industry data and are very willing to help you find more.
3) The Center for Sales Strategy— Yes, I must put in an advertisement. The Sales Edge, Elmstreet Blog, White Papers and the Sales Strategy Blog offer great info on industries.
4) Walk into the Store— Do a little shopping. Talk to the sales associate. Speak with a manager. Sometimes I say what I’m doing. Sometimes, I don’t. Either way, they are a gold mine of information. Recently, I stopped in at a car dealer, spoke with a sales manager, and he opened up about how a new dealership in the city was killing them. It gave me the perfect “warm-up” to reach out to the decision maker.
5) Visit the competition— Owners love to talk about their big competitors. Visit them. Observe what they are doing. What is working and what is not. These insights can be the perfect spice to add to your needs analysis questions.
Like I said… this is going to take some time, but I promise you it will be worth every second of your time. You will walk into your next needs analysis call with the confidence, insight and expertise that no other sales rep is going to have. Like Thomas Hobbes said…”Knowledge is Power”… and with your newfound “intel”, you will be one powerful account executive!
Guest blogger, Trey Morris, is a Senior Account Executive at WDRV-FM. You can visit his personal website for more of his sales strategies.
For more information on a proven sales process that works, download How Selling Steps from The Center for Sales Strategy.