What do rugs, cushions and chains have to do with placing your prospect’s needs at the centre of your pitch?

You’re about to find out!

Problems within problems

It is impossible to provide a perfect solution if you don’t bother to find out what the problem is.

That much is obvious.

But looking into what problems are preventing the problem from being solved is a step often overlooked.

Enter the need test

The ‘need’ test is the acid test of every pitch.

If the need is not being addressed your pitch stands on the flakiest of ground – regardless of how well delivered and convincingly argued it is.

And these needs, as we have seen, go beyond the immediate problem to cover all that stops that need being met.

Pulling rugs

A pitch that does not stand firmly on the solid ground of a prospect’s needs, stands on a flimsy rug that can be pulled out from underneath at any time.

But how do you assess your prospect’s needs?

Here’s how you can get off that rug and feel the reassuring solidity of a strong foundation underlying your chance of getting that deal signed.

1. The 3:1 rule

By the time a prospect arrives qualified into your workstream there’s already quite a bit of information stacked around them in your CMS.

Review all this carefully and follow-up on any interesting insights that may already have been unearthed.

For your first sales call a good rule of thumb is 3:1.

You should allow yourself treble the amount of time researching than you think you will spend on that first interaction. Use your time wisely and you should be able to chisel away at the available information to arrive at the core needs of your prospect.

2. The plumped cushion rule

Do not let the fact that you have promised a ten-minute introductory call make you feel you have to rush to get to the meat of the sandwich.

Pace the conversation slowly, using a relaxed tone and open questions to discover as much as you can about your prospect.

Aim to encourage them to do the talking. To do this they need to be sat upon the plumped cushion of trust.

Demonstrating you have an understanding of their problem helps them to settle in. But making sure you check your understanding with any nuances they wish to add will both deepen your insight and help them relax further into the conversation.

The sudden jumps of excitable tones and forced expressions of interest will only draw down the prospect’s portcullis. Avoid the trap of trying too hard – keep your speaking voice and language respectfully moderate.

3. The plumb rule

Those initial open questions will help you start to plumb the depths a bit more.

Having gained trust and created rapport, you should start digging down to establish whether anything lies beneath the initial pain points raised.

Here’s a really useful phrase that fits most situations: ‘What is the reason |COMPANY| is focusing on |THE THING YOU MENTIONED| right now?’

Far too often the root of a problem lies behind the first symptom that manifests itself.

If it helps to position yourself as Freud drilling past the images in a reported dream to arrive at their true significance, then go ahead indulge your fantasy.

But do avoid pulling out a chaise longue, initiating word association games or speaking with an Austrian accent (unless, of course, you are Austrian).

As you plumb deeper it is important you bear in mind that your prospect may actually view each problem as holding equal importance.

Right now, your role is not to challenge this – that will come later in the sales process.

Your priority right now is to begin shuffling the prospect’s pain point deck so you can understand what lies behind each. In this way you can identify the trump cards – these will be those that represent the most urgent and pressing issues.

It is these that will ultimately drive your prospect’s action – they should form the centre of your pitch deck.

4. The silence is golden rule

We’ve already mentioned about reining in that tongue and not dominating the conversation.

The trick here is easier to state than to put into practice.

But it goes like this: forget your situation.

However much you need a sale to hit your target:

  • Do not let your anxiety rush you
  • Do not let adrenaline power your mouth
  • Do not think that the harder you try the further you will get
  • At all costs, remember not to let your personal situation inflect the conversation

Desperation, after all, is one of the least attractive personality traits.

Let your prospect talk and let them ask questions. You will find that a prospect’s questions are the most revealing of their concerns and struggles.

But you’ll only hear these if you gain trust and give them space.

5. The heuristic rule

The quickest way to understand your prospect’s problems is to start categorising concerns rather than treating each as a unique issue.

To help you do this here are the four, broad categories that most pain points will fall into.

1. Grow my revenue

Prospects will:
Discuss sales and targets.

You will:
Draw on case studies to demonstrate relationship to revenue growth.

2. Cut my costs

Prospects will:
Talk directly about their cost of sales, slim profit margins or may refer to a desire to avoid redundancies.

You will:
Take note that price sensitivity will be at play and use case studies to demonstrate how quickly ROI can be achieved.

3. Save my time and effort

Prospects will:
Discuss stress, frustration and may focus on processes to the exclusion of all other factors

You will:
Bring automation features to the fore, use the testimonials of others who have benefitted from your service and make sure you can quantify exactly the time that can be saved.

Bring me sunshine

Prospects will:
Focus on team satisfaction, staff retention and company culture.

You will:
Discuss similar prospects who have benefitted and use metrics like retention to back up your examples

6. The chain rule

There is a chain of events that you must follow before you bring on the demo. Again, the main thing here is not to rush it.

Without a firm understanding of need – and an agreement from your prospect that there is a compelling problem crying out to be solved – a demo is likely to be either unfocussed at best, or focussed on all the wrong things at worst.

Before a demo try a discovery.

Discovery sessions are short and sweet and specifically set aside time for both of you to get down to the nitty gritty.

If it helps, you can think of the discovery session as a springboard and sounding board for the demo.

Work to rule

By following these rules, you will gain a better understanding of your prospect’s needs.

So, plump those cushions, step off that rug and start counting the links in that chain.

Sounds daft?

Try it, it works.

Watch our explainer video to learn more about SoPro
Watch our explainer video to learn more about SoPro