Customers and prospects possess a hierarchy of needs which have to be uncovered. The very best professional salespeople have become masters at recognizing those needs.
Rarely do you get information, unless you ask for it. You need information to sell your services or products and look for future sales possibilities. Skilful questioning means that you do not seem to be imposing on the prospect by asking too many questions.
Types of Needs
- Implied Needs are statements about problems, difficulties and dissatisfaction. An example would be: “Our system is too slow, we cannot handle the volumes, and the system is unreliable”
- Explicit Needs are specific customer statements of wants or desires. An example might include: “We need a faster system, we have to cut costs and we need more reliability”
Uncovering implied needs will suffice only in small sales. As the sales opportunity grows larger, the more important it is to uncover Explicit Needs.
Implied Needs Have To Be Developed Into Explicit Needs With Questions
Types of questions:
Uncovering Questions - To find out about problems or implied needs
Developing Questions - Take the implied needs and develop them into explicit needs
Uncovering Implied Needs
Situation Questions – Find facts and information about the customer’s present situation – e.g.
“How many people do you employ?”
“What markets are you in?”
“What is your annual sales revenue?”
Problem Questions - Find out about problems, difficulties or dissatisfaction
“How easy to use is your system?”
“Is the system reliable?”
“Do you have quality problems?”
“How do you manage with…….?”
“Are you satisfied with……..?”
In a larger sale, uncovering problems and offering solutions does not work.
Needs have to be developed with implication questions – these will increase the seriousness of the problem.
The Value Equation
- Cost of solution outweighs the problem
- Implication questions take the problem and build it up
- It becomes large enough to justify action
Questions to Develop Needs
Implication questions about the effects, consequences or implications of the customers problems – e.g.
“You say the software is hard to use – How does that affect your productivity?”
“The data is easy to lose – What does this mean to your company?”
“So you return fewer calls – How does it affect your customer service?”
Questions to Capitalize On Developed Needs
Need pay off questions? Question the value or usefulness of the proposed solution – e.g.
“How will this help you?”
“Why do you need to do this?”
“Why is this important to you?”
Using questioning techniques, you can control the prospect in almost any given situation. You can guide the prospect towards acceptance of your solution. Should you need to, you can use questioning techniques to regain control.
These techniques are very effective when used at the ‘Exploratory Meeting’ stage.