“Business is all about the customer; what the customer wants, and what they get. Generally, every customer wants a product or service that solves their problem, is worth their money, and is delivered with amazing customer service” – Fabrizio Moreira
Delighting a customer sure seems very straight forward, when the quote above is reflected upon. However, with customers’ increased preference of buying results and outcomes rather than products or service, “Value Selling” has become the need of the hour, as we discussed in our previous blog here. Selling value is accompanied by strenuous periods of probing the customers. The skill of showcasing product/service value to the potential customer is deficient in the pursuit of closing a sales, if effective probing has not been a part of the value selling process.
The importance of probing can be understood through a very simple analogy; of mining, refining and shining a raw piece of diamond, before it is metamorphosed into exquisite jewelry.
When a raw diamond is procured from its natural environment, it is mined. The cutter then figures out the best possible shapes of the diamond in order to minimize waste and maximize the yield of the rough stone through refining. The cutter finally places the rough diamond on a rotating arm and uses a spinning wheel to polish it. This gives the diamond the brilliant shine that it is known for.
Similarly, when trying to create value for a customer, the process of mine, refine and shine must be administered to the need stated. This is elaborated upon below;
- Mine: When meeting/speaking with a potential client, grasp the broad area that they need your product/service for.
Example: If the potential customer is in requirement of an external corporate training and development vendor, the sales professional must identify the broad area that the customer wants to develop; this training requirement could be of sales, leadership, customer service, surveys, etc.
At this stage, the sales professional must focus on factual questions. This could include enquiry about who the audience is?, what the current situation is?
- Refine: Post understanding the broad need, the sales professional must ask for further details of the need that the product or service is required for.
Example: The L&D sales professional should now probe more about the customer requirement. In terms of when the need arose, how did it come to light, what difficulties is the need creating, what the consequences of non-addressal of need are, etc.
At this stage, the sales professionals should focus on issues, concerns and net effect questions. This could include; What are your priorities?, What are the issues?, How did the need manifest itself?, What difficulties has the need created?, What are the consequences of non-addressal of need?
- Shine: Once clarity over the need and the consequences of the need persisting have been understood, the sales professional must try to understand the impact the potential customer expects from the product or service.
Example: The sales professional needs to find out, through probing, the impact the training should have with respect to the stated need. At this stage, the change or the outcomes that the customer visualises through the service provided must be gauged well.
Develop solution questions should be leveraged at this stage of probing. Questions could include, What would you like to see change?, At what stage would your current need be completely fulfilled?
This 3 step process of mine, refine and shine adopted for the probing of potential customers for the purpose of value selling, gives sales professionals a competitive advantage in the market. A direct association between the stated need and the proposed solution (through product and/or service) can only be established through effective probing, which would fit in to the puzzle of value selling and lead to success through a solution that is truly as unique as a diamond.
The process of probing could easily be understood through Tack International’s FINDTM tool
- Factual Questions: Addressed during the phase of mining
- Issues, Concerns and Net Effect Questions: Elaborated in the refining phase
- Develop Solution Questions: Detailed in the shining phase
With over 70 years of research and experience, InspireOne, in association with TACK International, continues to up-skill the sales force of organizations to be enable them to create, develop and sustain the art of value selling in the VUCA world through effective probing.