Well you may not be a bust but you might raise your family in Ozone Park, Queens. Hey, I love Queens. I grew up there. I'm just making a point, OK? Management has been sending salesmen out to sell with a Customer Needs Analysis sheet since I was "parking" a Spaldeen with my fist in the P.S. 205 playground. In other words, it's out of date. On a food shelf it might read "expired."
Here's how the CNA goes:
The appointment: "Mr. Jones, I'm Strom Lamone and I'd like to visit with you for a half hour to learn about your business. I AM NOT COMING TO SELL YOU ANYTHING."
The visit: After 100 such approaches, some one says 'yes' and there you are; Across the counter, doing your CNA with somewhere between 3 and 17 interruptions for your prospect's customers.
The Questions (right off the CNA sheet):
1. Is there a predictable selling cycle in your business?
2. What is the demographic of your primary target?
3. How about your secondary target?
4. What is your marketing area?
5. Who are your top competitors?
6. Do you advertise?
7. What media do you use?
8. What is your annual budget for advertising?
9.What do you try to accomplish with your advertising?
10. Gulp..How is it working?
11. If you could name your biggest success hurdle, what would it be?
The 1st Visit Close: Not to "sell" anything as promised, but rather to get a second visit (at which time you will sell your buns off).
"Well Mr. Jones, if I understand you correctly, your biggest probem is blah, blah, blah. I'd like to go back to the office and share your information with our in-house marketing genius, my sales manager, my general manager and Dr. Phil. If we come up with something that could fix your problem, you'd want to hear about it, right? OK then, let's pencil in next Tuesday or Wednesday, morning or afternoon, which is better for you (nice "choice close").
So--Does any of this ring a bell?
Can anyone explain to me the rationale for calling this a consultative sales process? This is an idiotic sales process, immediately setting up the only question this line of questioning evokes from a customer, if he asks one at all--"Very interesting Mr. Lamone. What's the deal of the day?"
Let me suggest a more productive line of questioning;
1. When did you open for business?
2. Has the competitive landscape changed over that period of time?
3. Which of those that compete with you has the strongest brand image?
4. How does the business look side by side with your original business plan?
5. Has the consumer need or want for the type of product or service you offered grown or decreased?
6. How do you know?
7. Is your sales volume growing at an acceptable pace?
8. Why? Why not?
9. What's your brand perception?
10. How do you know?
11. What's the public view of your customer service?
12. How do you know?
13. What is your strongest calling card for your target consumer?
14. How do you know?
I could go on and on with this list...and so can you. And so you should, and do I. The only thing I care about when visiting with prospects is making it clear that I can help them. And I do that by showing a sincere and intense interest in them; their successes and failures. And I don't run out of questions until they start developing their own list. That's because until they start questioning everything about their challenges, they will never meet them. And my job is to provoke them to think, and worry and wonder. And I make it clear that I will be right at their side as they go through that uncomfortable, painful but ultimately rewarding process.
And they will insist that I share the fruits of our labor.
Provocateur: A person who provokes problems; causes dissention and...exceeds their revenue goals month after month and year after year.