How to Quickly Uncover Customer Wants and Needs

December 20, 2012 at 7:00 AM

SOF ToolHave you ever wanted to know a prospect’s budget figure, but been unable to find out? How often have you needed deeper insight into their preferences, but not had it? Perhaps just a little more information could get you over the edge and help you close the deal.

SBI sought to solve this problem with the Solutions Options Framework. This tool (Download it free here) is specifically designed to help you uncover customer wants and needs. The tool compliments almost any sales strategy.

We recently introduced an enterprise software firm to the Solutions Option Framework. I’ll admit the sales aid seems simple enough at the first glance. It’s also incredibly powerful when placed in the hands of skillful sales reps.  The consensus from the ‘A’ players was that this is a tool worth its weight in gold. A common expression was “I wish I had this tool when…”.

 What will I get out of the Solutions Options Framework?

The Solutions Options Framework is designed to guide sales reps (and customers) through the process of discussing pricing and options. It helps make the process seem less like “selling” and more like “helping.” Less of a “pitch,” and more of a “discussion.” For example, it provides a distinct sales strategy that allows you to:

  • Start off the sales process on the right foot
  • Approach prospects in non-threatening ways. This way they aren’t “turned off” early (or ever) during the sales process
  • Uncover a prospect’s actual wants and needs. This allows you to tailor your message and provide the best solution possible
  • Close tactfully and effectively 
SOF Snapshot 1

 

The Psychology of the Solutions Options Framework

The Solutions Options Framework was a carefully crafted tool with one goal in mind: Discover what the customer really wants. The tool’s real effectiveness comes from the psychology behind it. Below are 6 benefits the SOF can offer sales reps. An example is also included wherein the SOF is put into practice.

1)  Naming Cleverly naming the options personalizes your offers and makes them less intimidating. Whenever possible, create names that resonate with the buyer. Examples include: 

  • Vanilla, chocolate swirl, and double fudge brownie
  • BMW, Mercedes, and Ferrari
  • Florida Keys, Maui, and Monte Carlo 

2) Pricing Options The SOF provides a non-threatening platform to discuss customer budgets without ever actually asking the question. It allows you to uncover pricing thresholds without seeming invasive.

For instance, a buyer may share that the purchase threshold is $400,000. Great. You now have options to strengthen your approach. You could keep the final proposal under $400K to streamline the process.  You also know at which point executive sponsorship or approvals are needed. This may provide access to the C-suite, which you’ve been trying to gain.

SOF 1

 

3) Customer Wants and Needs Tactfully solicit feedback on what options are the most important to the customer. Where do they place the most importance? What are they willing to pay for? And why?

4) Offer 3 OptionsProvide the prospect with multiple ranges in price and features to help uncover the unknown. The middle option should be your preferred offer. Your top-tier option should include all the bells and whistles, and generate a healthy margin. Your bottom-tier option should be for those customers who want to go cheap. Psychologically, buyers will tend to gravitate towards the middle option

SOF 3

 

5) Additions and Substitutions (No Problem!)  – Alterations are easy because you don’t have to go through a formal quote / bidding process. Once you and the prospect are ready, use prior SOF presentations to build your final quote. Conveniently, it is now customized to the client’s desires.  Your SOF work also flows naturally into your internal negotiation strategy.

6) Ownership – One additional, crucial benefit is that the customer feels ownership in this process. With each SOF revision, the customer develops a greater sense of ownership. AND you gain valuable insight. Throughout the process you also build towards an assumed close.

 

 

Don’t play the guessing game with prospects anymore. Instead, garner a full understanding of what they want and why. In the end, this isn’t only better for sales reps. It’s better for the customer as well.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by subscribing by Email or RSS.

Topics: sales strategy, Sales Process, buying process, Sales Rep Resources

Posted by Joel McCabe

Joel McCabe
Find me on:

Get Updates from the SBI Sales & Marketing Effectiveness Blog