Defined as “prescribing medicine or medical treatment without sufficient knowledge of the patient’s condition,” medical malpractice can have devastating effects.
Similarly speaking, the sin of “sales malpractice” is committed countless times each day, and it too can result in devastating consequences:
- Customers become dissatisfied
- Business relationships are compromised
- Orders are lost
- Time is wasted
- Needs are left unfulfilled
- Future opportunities are often lost…
Sales malpractice happens when sales people fail to properly assess or recognize customer needs, interests and priorities.
The transgressions are not typically premeditated, but rather take place as well-intentioned sellers plod on with ineffective pitches, one-sided sales spiels and misdirected presentations, offering solutions that don’t quite fit.
A Simple Solution…
Fortunately, the malady is easily avoided!
Creating, and then diligently putting to use, a comprehensive customer needs assessment plan is the simple solution.
And, to avoid any misconceptions, the assessment must be conducted early in the selling process, and must be regularly confirmed during more lengthy selling cycles.
In addition, effective assessment must go well beyond simply asking customers what they think they need — which is the style of an “order taker” rather than a sales professional.
Instead, this more comprhensive and consultative approach to needs-assessment involves learning about what each customer is trying to accomplish; it requires the use of strategically-crafted probing questions, which can best be created by working backwards from the problems the selling organization solves and from the objectives they help customers achieve. These questions must then be followed by focused listening, a thorough situational analysis, and confirmation of the facts.
Today’s marketplace demands a solution selling model in which all customer needs — recognized and unrecognized — must be uncovered, properly assessed, and confirmed before any solutions are offered; no presentation can be made, no advice given, no proposal written, no quote submitted until all factors have been carefully considered.
Only then can a solution be offered in good conscience, and only then are we living up to the responsibilities of a true sales professional.