Home:  Productive Insights

Do You Uncover the Need Behind the Need?

Sep 21, 2017  by  Phil Krone  in   Selling

In our experience, the very best salespeople-the 20 percent who outperform their colleagues significantly-have the ability to discover "root cause." The root cause is the true problem a prospect needs to resolve. The remaining, and less successful, 80 percent can identify that problem only occasionally or not at all. And they usually don't know how they did it. They tend to stay on the surface, seeing only the obvious symptoms and not the true disease.

The separation is clear. It's not a gentle slope from the best group to the next best group. It's a cliff. We believe the difference is skills and process-and the art of applying them. Sales truly is both a science and an art. 

The secret of the top 20 percent is that they have developed the skills and process of selling-the science-that enable them to be imaginative and creative in discovery-the art. The good news is that both the science and the art can be learned. 

This ability is known as "whole-brain thinking," and it's becoming productive in a number of contexts. Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering, for example, is now basing its undergraduate and graduate programs on the concept, enabling both students and faculty to go beyond the numbers to see problems with different lenses and divergent thinking. The goal is to develop more effective solutions to engineering challenges that can "take the world in a whole new direction," including "healthcare systems, financial products, and architecture."

What does whole-brain thinking have to do with sales? It can-and does-enable salespeople to use the symptoms of facts and figures to dig deeper to the root cause. 

In medicine, for example, a patient's problem might be a fever, which is a symptom of the root cause. The doctor must diagnose the cause of the fever, which means he or she must ask the patient questions and perform tests-which are also a form of question. Does the patient have an infection, an illness, or a damaged organ? 

In the case of poor or mediocre sales, we often find that the root cause is a lack of consultative selling skills or of a customized sales process. The two often go hand-in-hand, so the true problem is inefficient business development with deficiencies in both skills and process. (This is not to say that other challenges can't cause poor sales-competition, poor lead generation, even a lack of organization. But a sales process and skills to go with it will impact any of those issues, too.)

Looked at from another sales perspective, the root cause can also be seen as the "need behind the need," which reveals a prospect's true buying motives. Sometimes a prospect doesn't even know what those are. Helping a prospect discover them is where the top 20 percent of producers shine-and where the science of selling becomes the art of selling. 

Our consultative selling skills program teaches the communication skills required to find those needs and how to use them to resolve the root cause. Once these skills are mastered and a customized sales process is deployed, sales effectiveness increases significantly. 

Developing the skills and sales process is especially valuable for individuals whose primary job is not sales, but who are, in some measure, responsible for business development. Professionals are probably the best example-for instance, attorneys, accountants, architects, engineers. 

Most professionals understand the value of processes and use them to do their jobs. Unfortunately, they too often believe that they can persuade prospects of their capabilities and expertise by sharing how their processes and solutions work. That's a mistake. They are giving away valuable intellectual property-that is, the knowledge they use to earn their money. 

Besides, the how is not as important to decision-makers as the what-that is, the outcomes or implications. They usually don't need to be educated about how your process works or the specifics of your solution. They do need to be persuaded that your skills and expertise-your solution-will deliver the value they're looking for. 

Our FOCIS® Selling program teaches a soft skill utilized by professionals who need to listen, use both sides of their brains, and communicate to others with whom they're collaborating. FOCIS® provides an organized process to do just that.

To learn more, please contact us at 847-446-0008 orpkrone@productivestrategies.com.