Friday, November 11, 2011

“Why” Questions – Uncovering the Drivers in Discovery

“We need a new system…” says the customer.  “Great!” says the sales person, “We’ve got several possibilities for you…!”  And the discussion then proceeds to explore lists of features and functions, needs and use cases.  This is all wonderful, but what’s missing?

Why do you need a new system?” is a key question to ask, when appropriate.  The answer to this question may change the entire dynamic of the Discovery discussion and the resulting sales process.

For example, if the customer responds, “Well, we’ve been interested in a new system for some time…,” it may suggest that the customer is not really serious and that solving the problems inherent in the old system is not sufficiently important to change – it is not a Critical Business Issue.  This sales opportunity is a good candidate for a “no decision” outcome.

On the other hand, if the customer responds, “Well, the COO has mandated implementing a new system to drive down costs and she wants it in place before we complete an upcoming acquisition…,” then you have identified a Critical Business Issue (“reduce costs”) and a Critical Event (before the acquisition takes place).  This sales opportunity is much more likely to end with a completed order.

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