Jane's Blog on Sales
I think of sales people much like archaeologists. But, while archaeologists approach a dig wondering what they will find, and are careful to excavate until they hit the foundation, salespeople often approach an opportunity with a preconceived outcome and excavate only until they hear something that supports that outcome.
Great discovery (excavation) informs every part of the client engagement from the sales approach to the solution to the way it is presented. There are two parts to being a great sales archaeologist. First, you must an idea of what you are excavating for. And, secondly, you have to have a process for how you’ll get that information.
What are you excavating for?
- What are the opportunities or challenges that face the client?
- How are these issues prioritized?
- What has prevented this opportunity or problem from being solved in the past?
- How important is it? In other words, how likely is it that it will get the resources and commitment for a resolution now.
- What are the resources that have been committed to craft a solution?
- Who are all the groups/individuals impacted by these issues who may have a say in the solution?
- What is the decision-making process and who will be involved?
- What are the road blocks to solving this issue?
If I surveyed most sales professionals reading this, I’ll bet that many could give me some version of the list above. When I get into organizations and begin looking at their discovery process, however, I find that those same sales professionals have no real process for excavating that information. They don’t know how to structure the conversation.
What is your discovery process?
- Let the client list for you all of the opportunities or issues they are facing. Resist the urge to interrupt with a solution while they are speaking. Let them get the entire list on the table.
- Ask them to prioritize the issues. Don’t assume that the first issue they mention is the most important to them.
- Begin to excavate through the first issue until you have all of the information you are excavating for.
- Ask the client which issue is the next most important, and repeat the process.
- Summarize at the end of the conversation and ask two very important questions -
- Did I get that right?
- Did I leave anything out?
This process gives you a strategy for managing the conversation while also allowing the client ample opportunity to share what is most important to them.
Give it a try. I’d love your feedback on how it is working for you.
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