Understanding the process of change – key learning points.
- Good, really good, knowledge of your products and services is essential.
- People don’t buy anything unless they are dissatisfied with their present circumstances.
- Selling change means getting the client to recognise that change brings real benefits.
- Only good, client-focused questioning will uncover real needs.
- Only excellent listening skills will allow you to hear what those needs are.
- Don’t worry about the type of questions – just question, question, question. Oh, and listen!
- Understanding the potential customer’s business and where their needs are is fundamental.
Needs questioning is a sales concept.
But needs questioning is also a basic human means of communication. Imagine if someone close to you came with a serious problem and wanted your advice. What would you do? You would listen, then ask questions to explore the circumstances, listen again, then ask more questions about the likely consequences, listen again and then the two of you would debate what the best course of action was.
Here’s that laid out from a business-to-business perspective:
(1) What are the present circumstances?
(2a) Where are the opportunities for improvement?
(2b) What are the consequences if nothing is changed?
(3) How would an improved solution be described?
(4) What return on that solution makes commercial sense?
(5) Agreement on timetable of change.
To reduce it to a catchy phrase is to undermine the social complexity involved in any human dialogue concerned with change.
The one part of the above sequence that needs a separate article is gaining agreement on the benefits of the proposed solution. That will come in due course.
By Paul Handover