If you went to see a physician with a goal (losing weight) or a problem (lower back spasms), you would expect the physician to ask you a series of specific diagnostic questions. Your trust and confidence in the physician would increase with each intelligent, probing, on-target question he or she asked you. When you have confidence in the diagnostic process, you are far more likely to have confidence in the prescription.
Why should selling be any different?
What we are talking about here is process. The ability to ask diagnostic questions is a key differentiator between great salespeople and traditional salespeople. customer-focused sellers do this intuitively. Traditional sellers need help not only with content, but with process as well. They need help with the process of asking the right questions to learn how the customer operates today, and the associated costs of the current method.
In many of our consulting engagements, we help Marketing develop the diagnostic questions about (1) the buyer’s current situation and (2) the potential usage of the offering to help the buyer achieve a goal, solve a problem, or satisfy a need. Most human beings (particularly, it must be said, male human beings) do not appreciate unsolicited advice. But if the potential buyer is being asked intelligent questions that he or she is capable of answering, the advice that emerges from that process is, in a very real sense, solicited advice. The buyer has participated in, and partly directed, the conversation that developed both the diagnosis and the prescription.