I was conducting a deal review with a client the other day. I was speaking with a bright, experienced sales rep who had been with the company for several years and knows her product offering very well.
I asked a lot of questions about the opportunity; how long has the rep been working on it, the key individuals she was engaged with, the size of the deal, etc. I also asked what I though was a pretty simple question. I asked, “what problems is this prospect trying to resolve?”
What happened next was very interesting. The rep told me about the new capabilities that the proposed solution could deliver. She said the solution being proposed could do this, could do that, and, it could…
I thought maybe she didn’t hear me the first time, so I repeated the question, “what are the problems that this prospect would like to address with your solution”?
Again, the rep continued telling me about the features that the new solution could deliver. It sounded like an impressive list – but is was just that; a list of features that the new solution would provide.
Hmmmm…I began to wonder, wasn’t I making sense? Wasn’t she hearing me? Why the disconnect? Then it hit me; her brain was wired to think solutions, not problems. However, the issue here is that prospects don’t think this way. Instead, they think about the problems or difficulties that they face.
I think that the brains of most of sales reps are similar to the sales rep I spoke of earlier. (I know mine is; I’m a seller of my services too!) We’re naturally wired to see solutions to problems and we’re anxious to present them to our prospects. We get excited when we recognize a situation that we know our products/services can impact. Our brains start going at warp speed as we envision how our capabilities will address the problems and deliver the change that’s needed.
"Any fool can know. The point is to understand."
― Albert Einstein
The problem is that we sometimes bypass the prospect and what their view of the world likely is. Since we don’t walk in their shoes (most of us anyway) we don’t experience, firsthand, the issues that they’re dealing with. We have difficulty understanding the problems there’re experiencing and we want to move into the “new and improved” world as quickly as possible.
When doing so, we inadvertently leave the prospect behind. We leave it up to them to bridge the world between the issues they currently face and this new-and-improved world that we can provide.
In order to make a better connection, we (the sellers) have to make a subtle yet critical adjust to our brains. We need to think like a prospect; to envision the challenges in their world before we take them on a journey to something that’s better. We must uncover the issues and problems that they currently face before we present our capabilities. We should ask questions that show the prospect that we understand the types of challenges they face.
Additionally, we should ask questions that expose issues that we know our solutions solves best (or at least better that potential competitors) These “probing problem” questions become the fertile ground that we’ll plant our solutions in; so they take hold in the prospect's mind and provide the connection point between their challenges and our solutions.
So, as you prepare for your new deal review session, take a look at the opportunities that you’re currently working and ask yourself, “what are the problems that this prospect is facing that my solution addresses?”, then note your answers. If you’re still thinking features then do a little brain rewiring. Soon enough you’ll be thinking like your prospect’s think – and you’ll be in a much better position to expose challenges and connect your solution to them.
Good luck and good selling!