This post is part of an 8-part series on the steps of the sales process. Click here to see the full series.
Needs Analysis – The Fourth Step of the Sales Process
Needs Analysis is in the exact middle of the 7-step sales process. It is the heart of the process. It is the most important part of the sales process. It is the hub of the wheel…
Every step in the process before the Needs Analysis stage is directed at finding someone worth having a Needs Analysis conversation with:
- Leads is about identifying people who might be worth the time to do Needs Analysis with
- Prospecting is about asking them for a first conversation
- Qualifying is about seeing if a more detailed (Needs Analysis) conversation is worthwhile.
Everything after Needs Analysis is about solving the problem identified in Needs Analysis with a solution that you can provide.
- Proposing the solution is a mirror of Needs Analysis – if Needs Analysis shows us the problem, the Solution needs to solve that problem in order to be seriously considered by the prospect
- Objections are questions that come up about the proposal, which is based on the Needs Analysis. Questions answered in Needs Analysis will minimize objections.
- Closing is about getting agreement to pursue the solution discovered in Needs Analysis.
The entire professional consultative sales process revolves around what you do, what you learn and what you set up in Needs Analysis.
Every selling situation will have different requirements for Needs Analysis, so as general advice, the most important thing that you can do is to work backwards from the solution and try to list every benefit your product or service offers; every problem it solves; every situation that it addresses; and every objection that might come up about not moving forward with the solution.
From there, make a list of the things you need to know in order to write a proposal or make an offer. This list will be more than you need to know from every individual customer, but you should use it as a guide.
Ask all of the questions you need to ask in order to answer every question that you want to address in the proposal. Nothing in the proposal should be new. Ask here, as a part of Needs Analysis.
To make the questions more powerful, follow questions with suggestions (trial solutions) about what might solve the problem, for example:
You know, one of my other clients had a similar situation, and they used our ABC123 solution do address that, do you think that might work well here for you?
By offering these trial solutions as a part of your needs analysis questions, you actually write the proposed solution as you go. The solution you suggest will be the trial solutions that you proposed along the way that got agreement, for example:
For the PDQ issue, you thought that the ABC123 solution was right, and for the XYZ issue, we agreed that the CBA321 approach was best – so I will go write that up and we should be ready to go, does that sound right to you?
Once you have a qualified prospect, understand their issues, and suggest solutions that they agree to, you are ready to close, at least informally. Do so. Don’t wait. Take this approach and the rest of the process is a formality that goes very easily.
We will address issues that come up in the rest of the process, but know now – most of them have to do with how you got to Needs Analysis and what you did there.
The next step in the process is the presentation of your Proposal. Click here to read about this next step in the sales process in this sales process blog post series.
Please click on the following links for more information about Needs Analysis or this link for the full list of topics in this 8-part series on the sales process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi, I’m David Masover. With nearly three decades of B2B sales experience, I work as a private practice Sales Force Development Consultant. I help company leaders understand the root causes of sales issues that keep revenue from growing as fast as it could, and to fix those problems through work with reps, managers, systems, processes, strategies, and tools. You can learn more about me and my work and/or get in touch with me here at my web site www.davidmasover.com/contact/ or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/masover/