We often think of the needs analysis meeting as the beginning of the sales process, but, is it really? Today's buyers are complex. Their needs are perplex and they're hesitant to share information. When speaking with a prospect for the first time, you must ask the right questions. First, you have to know what questions to ask.
To conduct a great needs analysis meeting— one where the client is anxious to participate and is really open with information—there are two areas you need to work on before the meeting ever begins.
Two Things to do Before a Needs Analysis Meeting
1. Establish Your Credibility
It's critical to establish credibility and build trust quickly before an effective needs analysis strategy. Credibility doesn't start by focusing on your expertise, it starts by meeting your prospects where they are, identifying their desired business results, and providing evidence that you're a problem solver. To do this, it’s important that you take some specific actions to assure that you're seen as a competent ally with empathy, expertise and problem-solving skills—not just another seller vying for their time and attention. Choose one, or a few, of these actions:
- Send them a few documented success stories that show how your ideas have solved problems for other clients.
- Send a tailored letter of introduction that makes it clear you have been thinking about the prospect’s business and their possible needs.
- Share a few observations from your own experience as a customer (or an observer) about their business.
Doing your homework in advance will yield some useful articles and research that will be compelling to the prospect, making them eager to see and speak with you.
2. Establish Credibility for the Needs Analysis ProcessTell the prospect why you're conducting the meeting, what you'll do with the information gathered, and how conducting such a meeting has led to profitable ideas for other clients. Make sure to explain the overall structure and set expectations so both you and the prospect are expecting the same meeting.
Look ahead to your next needs analysis meeting. What could you do now to assure that you have established credibility for yourself and the process itself? If you do this, you’ll find the meeting will much more productive for both you and the prospect.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in November 2012 and has since been updated.