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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Setting the Table for a Great Needs Analysis

needs analysis for desired business resultsBefore you can have a serious conversation about desired business results, you need your prospects to open up and tell you about their problems and challenges. When you meet someone for the first time, it can be challenging to get them to let their guard down when they don’t know you.

Here are some things that will help you get beyond the big chill of an initial meeting with a prospect and enter the needs analysis superhighway by transferring relationship tension to task tension. 

Relationship Tension

Most business relationships start off with a certain amount of relationship tension. This reality is a natural part of the sales process. Simply put, new business prospects don’t know you and might not trust you. When relationship tension is high, productive conversations are difficult to have. It’s difficult to uncover real needs or problems or be seen as a trusted advisor.

Here’s a list of things that cause relationship tension:

  • You’re a salesperson and their dealings with other salespeople are not always positive
  • You didn’t make the purpose of the meeting clear
  • You acted as if you expected deep trust within a few minutes
  • Your appearance was overdressed, underdressed, or just the wrong dress
  • You asked superficial questions that you should have known the answers to already 

Detecting relationship tension is easy. Look for these signs: 

  • Closed arms
  • Rigid body language
  • Defensive posture or language
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Short answers to your questions
  • Dodging your questions

When the relationship tension is high, productivity is low. Your job is to transfer the tension from the relationship to the task of addressing their desired business results. Here’s some insight about task tension along with some tips to help you make the transfer. 

Task Tension

Task Tension can be described as a positive feeling that exists when there's interesting work to be done. This tension includes feelings of enthusiasm that encourage people to dive into a project and seek ways to overcome challenges to achieve desired business results. World-class sellers understand moving from unproductive relationship tension to highly productive task tension is an essential part of the sales process. 

Transferring Relationship Tension to Task Tension 

If you reduce relationship tension without moving to task tension, you will make a friend, but not a sale. Task tension is productive when it challenges thinking and focuses the conversation on desired business results.

These four steps will increase your credibility and shift the tension onto the task:

  • Lead with business insights to establish trust and value
  • Share an agenda at the beginning of the initial meeting to clarify expectations
  • Ask great questions and actively listen - take notes and ask appropriate follow-up questions
  • Gain a clear assignment during the needs analysis meeting

Tension can be good when it’s focused on the task at hand. Be sure to take the appropriate steps and allow highly-productive task tension to lead the way to an open discussion of business needs.

hourglass needs analysis

Topics: Needs Analysis