In their haste to satisfy customers, many salespeople make a big mistake.
In his book, Slow Down, Sell Faster! author Kevin Davis explains why presenting solutions too soon in the sales process can lead to a lot of problems, including:
- It shifts the focus away from the customer and on to the salesperson.
- At this point in the sale, the salesperson doesn’t really know the full value of the solution.
- It’s too early for the salesperson to know what problems or opportunities the customer has and doesn’t have – so he or she may end up emphasizing features the customer doesn’t want and miss capabilities they do want.
- It makes the customer feel like they’re being “sold to” and makes the salesperson sound like every other person who’s trying to sell them.
Creating a unique solution
If you don’t know your prospect’s buying criteria, consider it a signal that you haven’t placed enough emphasis on uncovering his or her needs. Until you’ve helped the prospect frame an effective solution for their needs, you won’t know what to emphasize about your product or service. If you resist the temptation to talk about your product or service too early, the prospect may talk about what the solution must do.
Getting prospects to open up
During a meeting with a new prospect, it may be difficult to get him or her to open up. If you sense that a prospect is reluctant to talk, it may be a good idea to take your focus off uncovering problems and put it on potential opportunities for improvement.
Five steps of diagnosis
Here are five steps that may help you get off on the right foot with a new prospect:
- Break the ice quickly. A good way to do that is to tell the prospect what you already know about his or her business.
- Establish the big picture. Try to ask a few big picture questions that will help pinpoint a prospect’s goals and obstacles that might be in the way.
- Ask diagnostic questions. Try to get background facts and current information. You want to identify the difference between what is and what should be.
- Identify the decision makers. Try to find out who will be involved in the decision, pinpointing the most influential ones. What is the attitude of the most influential decision makers?
- Remain focused on the prospect’s needs throughout the meeting. It’s not a good idea to offer solutions at this stage. You’re collecting information that will allow you to come up with the right solution.