The Needs Analysis Part 1.

So we’ve covered how to do a correct sales introduction, now we move onto the bulk of your sales pitch.  The needs analysis is by far the most important and challenging aspect of a sales call or meeting.  It is here where you will discover what your customer’s requirements are and match it to one of your products.  The key here is to listen attentively.

How this section of the conversation turns out depends entirely on your questioning techniques.  Ideally, the potential customer should be doing most of the talking, with you chiming in with a mixture of open-ended and closed questions.  For those of you who don’t know what these are, below are some basic examples.

Open Questions:

  • How was your day?
  • How many children do you have?
  • What do you think of your current website?
  • What does your marketing campaign consist of at the moment?

Closed Questions:

  • Do you have a website?
  • Is your pet eating properly?
  • How often do you go to the gym?
  • Are you eating properly?

As you can see, open questions allow the responder to give you a greater picture of the situation, while a closed question is generally answered by yes, no, or a very short answer.  These will be covered more at a later date.

During your needs analysis, the foremost plan is to get as much relevant information from your buyer as you can.  This is the actual beginning of building a strong relationship, not “how was your day”.  The idea is to listen, so you are able to match their wants or needs with your product.  Not listening here will turn into a nightmare for you in the form of matching them with the wrong product or service, or worse, having them pick up on your mistake and abruptly leaving due to your lack of interest in them.

What is your DESIRED OUTCOME? 

As mentioned in “Up Your Sales Game”, sales is a process designed to reach the desired outcome.  Now, with that in mind, the needs analysis should be the driving force in reaching your outcome.  So how do you go about this you ask?  Easy peasy.  Stick to the true and tested K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid).  At the absolute minimum, your questions should answer the below:

  1. That you are speaking to the decision maker or can lead you to the decision maker quickly. You will get a feel for this as your experience grows as it differs in many industries.
  2. What is the timeframe they need their product or service in? Is it urgent, or can they fit your normal delivery standards?
  3. What are they actually looking for? This extends to the actual service and benefits of purchasing from your particular company, eg. Their old company didn’t communicate well, so they are looking for great communication from you as well as a top product.
  4. How will you work together? This is particularly important in service based industries.  You need to reach a meeting of the minds for this to work properly, otherwise it could spell disaster down the line.
  5. Why did they leave their previous car dealer or accountant? Don’t let history repeat itself.

The above are just some examples, and a more in-depth analysis will be conducted in the next article relating to the needs analysis.  Although it is impossible to give all needs analysis questions, the above 5 are excellent starting points.

My recommendation to improving your questions, and flow of your conversations would be to write out all the questions you have ever asked customers, and always keep it updated.  Soon enough you will begin to realise what works and in what order to ask these questions.  Just remember, each of these questions must be asked for a reason (What information am I trying to achieve with this question?).

I have spent many years in sales, and the needs analysis is by far the section of a sales pitch that separates the men from the boys.  Improving this part of your pitch will ensure you gain an increase in sales, but most importantly you will become consistent.  Consistent in helping your customers, and consistent conversion rates.

Comment below if you have any questions relating to the needs analysis, and they will be addressed in the upcoming parts of this section.