Don’t Snorkel Scuba Dive

Uncovering the prospect’s compelling reason to buy requires conversations that go deeper than “What do you need” or “What do you want”. My observation is that many salespeople in the discovery phase of the sales cycle act like snorkelers. They stay near the surface of the conversation. They are satisfied with answers like “we’d like to increase throughput by 15%”; or “we are not happy with our current supplier”. Like snorkelers in the lake, they are afraid to go deeper lest they “run out of air” so to speak. The Optimal Salesperson knows that the true compelling reason to buy lies several layers below the surface. So, like SCUBA divers, they head into deeper waters in order “to get to the bottom” of why exactly the prospect wants what they want and what the ramifications of not getting it are. They are not afraid of “running out of air” (i.e. getting stuck) because they brought plenty of air (read selling skills and product knowledge) with them. They are not satisfied with knowing that the goal is for throughput to increase by 15%. They want to know why 15% and not 20% or 12%. What happens if they don’t achieve 15%? How does failure to achieve that 15% affect the production manager who is buying the product or service. They want to know why the prospect is not happy with their current supplier. Is it delivery time, technical knowledge, or responsiveness? Does it have something to do with the product? Or, is it the salesperson they are unhappy with? So the main point here is to go deeper. Ask another question. Ask why. In other words, act like a SCUBA diver not a snorkeler on a sales call.

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