12 Great Selling Skills
Chapter 6: Determining the Needs Correctly
Only those who dare to believe that deep down within them,
there is something stronger than the circumstances,
can achieve great things. – Bruce Barton
Customers buy for their reasons, not yours.
The most important thing that you need
to do in the questioning phase of a sales pitch is
to discover the real needs
or problems of the prospect,
the needs or problems
that the product/service does not have.
Yours may be satisfactory or solvable.
Selling is both a science and an art.
The best salespeople have a set of skills
that they can use to establish higher-level relationships
and to differentiate leads from potential customers.
By learning and practicing a series of powerful
and proven skills,
used by high-performing salespeople everywhere,
you can quickly improve your effectiveness
and efficiency to your business results.
In this chapter,
you’ll learn some of the best ideas used
by the most successful salespeople
to pinpoint the exact need.
Ask questions that focus on the Problem
and the Need
The key to success,
in every situation,
with every client,
is to ask intelligent questions
and listen attentively to the answers.
Be a student,
let your customers be teachers.
Imagine that you have an opportunity
to study a subject
that you love
and the teacher is a world-renowned professor
or a respected person in the field.
You will be in a small class with a master
who will share
with you valuable knowledge and ideas
that no one else has to share with you.
How will you behave?
My suggestion is that you should be
on time and well prepared,
and that you should listen attentively
and take careful notes
from everything the expert has to say.
You should see your potential customers the same way.
They are experts in their own particular situation.
They are experts in their company,
their problems and their needs.
They are the people who have the right to use
or not use your product/service.
Your job is to treat the customer as someone
with deep knowledge in the particular area
you are trying to learn.
Problem and need-focused questions open up sales opportunities.
The more questions you ask
and the more attentively you listen to the answers,
the more opportunities you will discover,
and many of them unexpected opportunities,
to sell your products/services.
Prepare your questions in advance.
Be careful about the words you use.
Francis Bacon1 once wrote:
“Writing creates people precisely.”
In sales, you should write down your question
and look closely at the words
you use in it to make sure
it’s structured in the best possible way.
just a small change in wording
can elicit far better responses from customers,
which can lead to transactions you can’t predict.
Practice those sales questions
with your coworkers,
or family members.
Remember, when you meet customers,
you are already “on the stage”.
Surely you can’t imagine an actor going on stage
without first reading the script
and memorizing his lines, right?
Of course, they have to practice
and recite the lines
until they can speak fluently and naturally.
“When everything seems to be going against you,
remember that the airplane takes off against the wind,
not with it.” – Henry Ford
Use the Agenda
Use a “work program” with each client.
This tool takes a little more time and effort to prepare,
but the results you can get
from the first use will really surprise you.
And here’s how the Agenda works:
Prepare a list of questions,
from general to specific,
and then type them out
and print them on a piece of paper pre-printed
with your company information.
At the top of the page,
write your company name and meeting time.
Right below that,
write the phrase
“Things to discuss in the meeting with ___”
and then write the client’s name in the blank
while learning how to pronounce the client’s name correctly.
Then write five to seven questions
in large font (preferably 16)
and leave a space below each question
for the customer to take notes.
Prepare these to-dos exactly
as if you were going
to have a very important meeting
with many participants.
When you go to a client,
you say something like,
“Thank you so much for your time.
I know you are very busy.
I have taken the time to prepare an agenda
for our meeting today.
Here are some questions we can discuss
to see if my company can help yours
at a reasonable cost reasonable no.
Are you feeling okay?”
Customers love it
when a professional salesperson arrives
with a written agenda.
Then give the client a copy
and keep one for yourself.
When asking the client in turn prepared questions,
always stay focused and follow a logical sequence.
I call this “the spine-and-rib question method.”
The spine or the spine are the core questions
that you write down on paper.
The ribs are the side questions and comments
that will arise as you develop the backbone questions.
Continue to make precise notes on the agenda sheet
as well as in the notebook.
The fact that you’ve prepared an agenda,
and followed through on it shows people
that you respect their time.
It also shows your potential customers
that you are a busy person.
It helps to increase your credibility
as well as your sense of confidence.
It makes you feel and act like a consultant.
“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse,
but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” – Jack Ma
Create a positive self-image
Self-image plays a major role in selling effectively.
The rule here is tha
t how you see yourself on the inside is
how you appear on the outside.
You can really transform your personality
by visualizing yourself
as someone who is absolutely brilliant at what you do.
Visualize yourself as a brave,
confident and articulate person in all sales situations.
Visualize the customer
as someone who is always positive,
interested and willing
to learn about the products/services you offer.
See yourself as a consultant
and a truly knowledgeable problem-solver rather
than simply a salesperson.
Some consultants make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year
just asking questions
and giving valuable advice to their clients,
big business owners.
I have met many of these people year after year,
and without exception,
all of them are perfectly dressed and groomed.
They look like dollar millionaires.
You should also act,
and dress like them.
See yourself as a “problem detective,”
like someone who is always looking for problems
to which your product/service is the solution.
The more clearly you have answers about specialization,
and focus (the four key strategic thinking rules discussed in chapter 3),
the more likely you will find
The more potential customers around you,
the higher it will be.
Plus, read business articles in newspapers,
or business-specific websites
to uncover potential customers
for your products/services,
people you probably wouldn’t recognize
because you don’t have a website
with clear concept of his ideal customer.
“Don’t give up on your dreams,
or your dreams will give up on you.” – John Wooden
Become a sales doctor
Be an expert with complete knowledge
in everything you say or do.
As a sales doctor,
you have a “standard of ethics”
to apply to all patients (customers).
You treat each customer with respect
and a solid professional level.
By the way,
to be a professional you have
to understand the difference
between a “client” and a “client”.
A customer is someone you sell to.
between two people is merely transactional.
You offer a product/service at a specific price
and convince the customer to buy it.
Then you will find a new customer.
A client is completely different.
A client is someone you protect.
When Israel is referred
to as a “client state” of the United States,
it is clear that the entire world understands
that Israel is protected by the United States.
Likewise, when you begin
to treat your customers and relationships
as if they were your clients,
as if they were being protected by you,
you will treat them differently,
and change your mind.
In return, they will also treat you differently.
When you treat them as if they were clients,
constantly looking for ways to help,
and protect them in making the right decisions,
your attitude toward them will change,
and their attitude towards you will,
of course, change as well.
As a sales physician,
you will go
through three stages in all client meetings,
especially during the first meeting.
Doctors of all specialties, worldwide,
take exactly three steps with each patient,
not just the first time,
but every time they see the same patient.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
The first step in a salesperson’s patient relationship is
to do a test on your client.
Let’s call this step the problem/need identification stage.
A doctor will never discuss a cure
or prescription with his patient
without performing an exam or test first.
Likewise, you are not allowed
to mention any something related
to your product/service before completing a test.
You will not be able to provide a professional conclusion
or recommendation about your client’s prescription
or treatment before completing the test.
Talking about your product/service
or suggesting features or benefits
before you fully understand the client’s situation
is a type of “illegal selling”.
When you engage in illegal sales,
you immediately lower yourself
as a fearsome sales professional
(Just like a doctor who immediately prescribes drugs
without checking the situation)
of the patient will engage in an illegal medical activity).
“Never give up.
Great things take time.
Be patient.” – Never Give Up Quote
Once you’ve completed a test,
including asking enough questions,
you’re on to the stage of determining
exactly what health issue the client is facing.
Well-paid management consultants
often interview their clients in-depth,
in-depth, gather large amounts of information,
and conduct extensive research and opinion polls,
before when returning to their clients
after a few weeks with their suggestions.
In the same way,
once you have gathered the information and the results,
you go back to your client
and explain what you have found.
You ask the client if what you find is consistent
with his experiences.
And only when your client agrees that
what you find looks like a real problem
to be solved can you begin the third stage.
“For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.” – Jim Rohn
This is the stage in selling as a doctor
where you can finally start talking about your product/service
and how it can solve the problem you just identified
or satisfy the needs you have just discovered.
Only at this point will you have the right
to start the actual offering
and the introduction of your product/service to the customer.
From now on, think of yourself
as a sales doctor,
as a highly paid professional
whose primary concern is patient care ( his client).
The more you see yourself
as a highly paid professional,
the more professional you will be with your clients,
and the more they will appreciate
and respect you.
When you act like an expert,
even without telling anyone,
your sense of confidence will increase,
and your credibility
with your clients will increase as well.
“Success is dependent on effort.” – Sophocles
Gap Analysis: Before and After Sales
Success in locating your product/service lies in your ability
to perform an accurate distance analysis.
If you see yourself as a detective
who is always looking for problems
or needs that your product/service can satisfy
at a reasonable cost,
then like a detective.
The key to uncovering the exact need is your ability
to ask carefully prepared questions
and listen attentively
to the answers
for both the spoken
and the informed information to unspoken news.
For a customer who buys a product/service
from you (or from any other person),
there must be a distance
between the current customer
and the person that customer becomes
when he/she has used the product/service.
The principle here is:
“No distance? No transactions!”
For example, in an equity sale,
you analyze a client company’s portfolio
that she earns an average of about 5% per year
from her total portfolio.
You show that by reorganizing
and reorganizing her portfolio,
you can hit 10% per year.
The other 5% difference is the gap
between what customers have right now
and what customers will reap
if using your product/service.
One of the standard forms of gap analysis
is the “before and after” offer.
Think about TV commercials
for weight loss products.
An extremely simple 30 or 60 second strategy.
First, the ad opens with a question
that can immediately grab your attention if you’re overweight:
“Do you want to get back to being slim?
Are you too tired of weight loss programs that do not work?
Do you want to lose about 13kg in 30 days?”
The first question is
to get the potential customer’s attention
about your weight loss solution.
In the next few paragraphs,
the ad tells you about a remarkable product
that can help you lose weight quickly.
The ad then shows an obese person
before they use the product.
And then it posted a picture,
still the same person,
with the ideal body and measurements
for having lost the extra pounds.
Then the ad repeats a valuable offer:
“You can also get 1 off 3kg within 30 days!
Call the number below and get started right away.”
With a “before and after” pitch,
you clearly define the current state of your prospect
and show them
what they will look like in the future using your solution.
What gap can your product/service fill?
Where are your potential customers
who have a gap between their current
and new status after using your product/service
that matches the gap your product/service has?
Remember, the gap needs
to be wide enough,
and the benefits need to be significant enough,
to motivate potential customers to accept the time,
and expense of buying and using your solution.
This is really the key to selling almost
anything to everyone.
Your goal is to help customers identify the gap
between where they are
and where they might be at some point in the future,
between reality and ideal.
Then you widen the gap by deepening the need.
You keep asking, “How much does that thing cost?”
“How much does that thing cost?”
Your job is to widen the gap
so that the customer’s desire
to solve a problem with your product/service
When your customers realize they have a problem,
you offer them an extremely effective
and affordable solution that fills the gap
with your product/service.
That is when the transaction is made.
“If you can’t excel with talent, triumph with effort.” – Dave Weinbaum
Resistance in sales
In sales, one of the statements you hear most often is:
“I don’t care.”
These words can be a way for customers to tell you:
“I don’t see the benefits your product/service brings,
I don’t see that my life
or work will be improved.
How good would it be to use your product/service.”
If using your product/service can solve a problem,
satisfy a need,
or fill a gap a customer has
for a very reasonable price,
and if your prospect says :
“I don’t care,” then this simply means that
you have not clearly explained the benefits
that your product/service can bring,
or this potential customer does not really understand the benefits
or advantages of the product/service you are offering.
Too often, though,
the phrase “I don’t care” is a thoughtless,
spontaneous response to any offer.
Because humans are inherently lazy,
customers are often too lazy to give any consideration
to what you are saying.
In most cases, customers are so busy
with their work and other responsibilities
that they don’t have enough mental energy
to pay attention to your offer.
As a result, they will simply express their feelings of disinterest
as a way of exiting the discussion.
In this case, when you hear the phrase
“I don’t care,” you can use the response:
“Yes, no problem.
Most people in his situation didn’t care
when we first talked to them.
But now they have become our best customers
and they have recommended us to their friends.”
This is a way to grab the customer’s mental lapel
and get their attention.
Often, when a “disinterested” potential customer hears
that people like themselves have purchased your product
and are happy to use it,
they become curious.
And curiosity is one of the most powerful sales tools you can use.
Sometimes, a customer will use other phrases, such as:
“I don’t have enough money to buy it,”
without knowing anything
about the product/service you are offering.
Again, simply respond:
Most people in your situation felt
they couldn’t afford our products
when we first spoke to them.
But now they are some of our closest customers
and they have already recommended us to their friends.”
This response often triggers another response from the prospect
– “Oh, really?
So what is that product?”
– and this feedback gives you an opportunity
to continue talking to your client,
to set up an appointment somehow.
Sometimes customers will say,
“We are completely satisfied with our current supplier.”
Then respond by saying,
Most people in your situation were perfectly satisfied
with their current supplier
when we first spoke with them,
but they are now some of our closest customers,
and they recommend us to their friends.”
As you can see,
this is a universal response
for whatever reason customer’s original amniotic fluid.
Whenever you say,
“Most people in your situation feel that way…”,
customers are immediately interested
in what people like them say and feel,
They end up becoming your customers.
customer objections are common and natural.
It has nothing to do with you
or your product.
It simply means that customers don’t know
how your product will help them.
If the customer’s first objection is true,
nothing will be sold to anyone,
“Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is.” – Zig Ziglar
Affordability and willingness to pay
Most people feel that
they don’t have enough money
to buy a new product/service
when they first hear about it.
They have in them what
is commonly known as “price neurosis,”
a negative reaction to learning the price of anything,
at any given time.
But affordability and willingness
to pay are not synonymous.
Most people can afford it,
whether with their own funds or some form of credit.
Most customers have the ability
to get the money they need
to buy your product/service
if they really want it.
In almost 100% of situations,
potential customers will admit
that they can buy your product/service
if they really want it.
The problem is not lack of money,
the problem is lack of desire.
Your job is to strengthen the desire
to buy to the point
where they actually want to buy your product/service.
As such, most people can afford it,
but they don’t want to.
When people spend a specific amount,
it reduces their freedom and mobility.
It reduces the amount of money
they have available to buy other things.
Since we all like freedom
and the opportunity
to take independent actions,
we are always resistant to any attempt to take our money,
no matter how good the reason.
Willingness to pay increases as customer wants increase.
The more a person wants to buy your product/service,
the more creative they become
when looking for different ways
to get money to make the purchase.
We will talk more about price resistance in Chapter 9.
In sales, the person
who asks the question is always the one in control.
Anyone can say.
Only a true sales professional can ask leading questions,
questions that can take customers,
step by step,
from a lack of interest in the product/service
they are looking for provides a strong desire
to know more about the product,
and even buy it.
Ask probing questions that force the prospect to think.
We call these open-ended questions
because they cannot be answered with yes or no.
They require a broader response.
When a customer gives a more detailed feedback,
that feedback gives you a new opportunity
to sell your product/service.
It lifts the curtain on a gap
that customers most likely won’t even know they have
until you start asking those questions.
Here are some questions you can ask:
What are you currently doing in this field?
How are things working for you?
How do you feel about this issue?
What are your long-term goals in this area?
What are you trying to achieve,
avoid or maintain in this area?
or frustrations have you experienced in this area?
If I could show you one way
to significantly improve your results in this area,
would you like to consider it?
The more questions you ask about what
the customer is doing now and what he
or she hopes to have in the future,
the more likely you are to elicit answers
and feedback that helps.
Discover the problems
and needs of the customer will be greater.
The more questions you ask,
the greater your chances of uncovering gaps
that you can cover with your product/service.
Professional selling is not manipulation or manipulation.
It is a process of discovering a potential customer’s real needs
and then showing him
or her that those needs can be satisfied by your product/service.
The ability to ask technical questions
and listen carefully to the answers
is the true purpose of top sales professionals.
Approaching sales methodically
is something you need to do right away.
The ability to use questions
to discover your needs is an indispensable skill,
but it is one that requires patience
and tireless practice.
My favorite way to start an offer is to say,
“Tell me about your work.”
This is a fairly simple method,
but it is an open-ended sentence
Talking can help uncover a lot more
than any particular question.
Whatever the client’s been dealing with lately
is usually just the surface
if you start the conversation
with this statement.
You can expand this statement
with another sentence,
“I have read all the information about your business
on the company website
and have had the basic understanding,
but I I hope you can tell me a little more about your work.”
Have a pen and a piece of paper handy
to write down everything the customer says,
and use this information to ask targeted questions.
Prospects and customers are always impressed
when you take the time to write down
what they have to say.
“Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts.
This is the secret of success.” – Swami Sivananda
Here are some questions that you can use
to put these ideas into practice.
What are the three questions
that you would use when preparing an agenda?
What are three methods you can use to position yourself
as a consultant instead of a salesperson?
What are three problems
or needs that your ideal prospect has
and can your product/service solve or satisfy?
When a potential customer says,
“I’m not interested,” what do they really mean?
What are three ways you can increase your customers’ desire
to buy the product/service you offer?
What are three benefits
or advantages that
you get by asking questions instead of talking?
What gap can your product/service fill?
List three gaps between your potential customer’s current state
and their possible state when they buy
and use your product/service?
Finally, if there was one action you wanted
to take immediately after what you learned in this chapter,
what would you do?