"Diagnose before you prescribe" is a common phrase that is well known to salespeople involved in complex sales. Experienced sales professionals follow the process intuitively.
An important shift has been occurring in the marketplace: As customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and increasingly aware that they have a wide array of choices on who they deal with, they are looking for thought leadership from salespeople.
Salespeople who challenge the customer's conventional thinking are more likely to get and keep their attention. Rather than asking a bunch of questions, as a doctor conducting a physical examination might, bring your best thinking to the table and demonstrate early on why customers should continue working with you.
When to not move
A key skill in the Ninety Five 5 Sales Success System is "Move Off the Solution." We encourage you to master this skill so that there is a common understanding of the key terms the customer uses. When employed effectively, moving off the solution enables you to answer a question with a question and continue to use inquiry to explore the problems the customer needs to be solved and the results they would like to achieve.
This is a powerful technique that can help you use inquiry to increase the flow of meaningful information.
I also recommend that you know when to move and when to answer the question directly. A customer may get frustrated if they have to ask the same question multiple times. There comes a time in conversation when it is your turn to tell, rather than ask. Effectively using inquiry can help to demonstrate your thought leadership, establish credibility and challenge the customers thinking in such a way that they are able to view their situation from a different point of view.
What is your Value Proposition?
A value proposition (VP) may be defined as a concise summary of the client's situation, the solution you are offering, and the client reasons that adopting the solution makes sense. When you create and formulate your value proposition hypothesis, you will need to identify the assumptions that must be true in order for the VP hypothesis to be true. If you find that any of those assumptions are not true, then you will need to rework your VP Hypothesis.
In order to prove your VP, you will need to gather evidence. Understanding what evidence is required can help you lead the conversations and ask questions that get the specific information you need so that you can then quantify the impact a solution that meets the customer's needs would have on the organization.
In order to get the customer to tell you their story, you may have to tell them your story first.