You just had what seems like a great meeting with a b2b sales prospect. You're excited because early on in the conversation you came across a need that was clearly actionable by you and your company. Cool.
But, are ALL the needs you uncovered actionable by you and your company? If they are, you might not have covered as much ground as you should have.
Uncovering only easily-actionable needs probably indicates you may have steered the conversation towards certain topics in your needs analysis – topics that your company is ready to help with – and ignored other topics that could be much more important in the eyes of your prospect.
It might seem counterintuitive, but an in-depth discussion of the prospect's current situation SHOULD uncover some needs that you can do little or nothing about.
Consider the example of a company that sells custom research studies to uncover consumer attitudes and behavior. If the salesperson for that research company is calling on a not-for-profit hospital, they will not get as deep in their discussions, if all of their questions follow this pattern:
- Can you describe the type of consumer or patient you are not getting that you would like to attract?
- What other hospitals in town do those patients you are targeting choose to visit?
- Is there a type of disease or sickness that you have great resources to help with, but are not really known for?
There is nothing wrong with any of these questions, but you want to mix in some questions that could spark some really interesting discussion and take the conversation in an unexpected direction. For example:
- What are some of the tough issues the hospital board is wrestling with currently?
- Is there a key issue the new CEO seems focused on that you didn’t hear much about from the former head of the hospital?
- What is marketing planning to focus on in the coming months?
It’s not that you are looking for needs you can’t help with, but you want to understand the big picture and give yourself a chance to discover something really big! If you are overlooking topics other than those related to your business, you might be glossing over your prospect’s truly pressing needs. Some of those needs will turn out to be actionable and capable of producing big orders!
So don't be afraid to plumb the depths in your next needs analysis meeting. You may find buried treasure by using this sales technique!
Download our Needs Analysis Record Worksheet! This tool will help guide you through your next needs analysis meeting and help you uncover true needs.