Bridging A Big Sales Process Gap

bridging the gap

In a recent blog post, Author Dave Brock shares some great perspective on the danger sellers face when “rushing to solutions.”

“Everything we do is focused on getting to the demo, getting to the pitch, getting to the proposal as quickly as possible…,” Brock explains. “But we aren’t trained to understand the problem deeply.  We aren’t trained to help our customers diagnose these, internalize them, and gain confidence in their ability to solve the problem.”

He goes on to suggest that it’s common for buyers to have multiple needs, problems or objectives, but they struggle with the interrelationships between them and with prioritizing which to address first. 

Process Gap
Brock’s points are well made, and they align with our experience and observations that when sellers are having difficulty closing sales, it is often due to gaps in the assessment step of the sales process. In other words, they don’t really understand the things with which buyers are struggling, oftentimes because they are overly eager to present their solution.

So how can this pitfall be avoided?

Brock recommends more business acumen training for sales people so they can better understand buyers’ challenges and, as a result, engage in more meaningful conversations about the interrelationships between needs, problems, and priorities.

“If we help the customer think through and understand the problem first, to gain confidence in this and that they are addressing the right things.  In doing this, we build trust and buyer confidence,” he says.

His article concludes with a quote from Albert Einstein, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

Along similar lines, developing and sticking-to a comprehensive need assessment process is a good way to help sales people improve their understanding of each buyer’s situation and needs, as well as the implications of those needs… and then help the buyer accomplish the same thing!

One guideline for this type of assessment is S.P.I.N. Selling, based on the best selling book by Neil Rackham, former president and founder of Huthwaite corporation. As you may know, the acronym S.P.I.N. stands for different types of questions:

  1. Situation Questions: The bigger picture
  2. Problem Questions: Identify the buyer’s needs, problems, goals, priorities, etc.
  3. Implication Questions: Explore the causes and effects of those needs, problems, goals, etc.
  4. Need-Payoff Questions: Show why your solution is right and worth it – i.e., quantify your solution

Regardless of which approach, the primary objective is to continually improve our ability to more thoroughly understand the multiple needs, problems, goals, and priorities of the buyer by making sure we bridge the “gap” that is so common in the assessment step of the sales process.