During a recent workshop, I played the part of the prospect as one seller after another approached me with their list of needs analysis questions. And almost without exception, the sellers' priority seemed to be getting through the list of questions they and their team had prepared, rather than harvesting the information I was hoping to offer.
Do you do that in the field?
Do you ever focus so hard on your list of prepared questions that you fail to listen to the responses a client or prospect is giving you?
Active listening is perhaps one of the most important—and least mastered—components of professional selling.
I implore you:
Don’t just write a list of questions long enough to fill the time you have been allotted. Write questions designed to harvest the kind of information that will move the process forward.
Don’t focus so hard on how professional you will look or sound. Focus on the answers your prospect is giving you. These responses will fuel your ability to build a solution. If you don’t take in good information, you can’t put out good solutions.
NEVER forget those three little words that people love to hear: “Tell. Me. More.” Those three simple words communicate to your prospect that you are interested, and that you suspect there is great importance to what they just said.
Remember that it’s only a good needs analysis meeting if the client talks more than you do.
It’s okay when people get a bit off-track during a workshop. That’s what workshops are for! We strive to identify habits and practices that need attention, and help the participating sales organization build a stronger sales approach and increase sales performance. It's always better when things go wrong in a meeting room, instead of on the street where dollars are at stake!
So practice, practice, practice… and invite your sales manager to role-play an upcoming needs analysis with you! You may just end up creating a better list of questions… that lead to better answers… that lead to better solutions… that lead to better revenue…
I love it when that happens.