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The Templates

Let's formalize this template—in part to emphasize that salespeople need structure for using Sales-Primed Communications to make calls, and in part to underscore the systematic nature of our approach.

The header information in the blank Solution Formulator (SF) template (Figure 8-1) contains the prerequisites for the targeted sales conversation (offering, vertical industry, title, goal). Figure 8-2 shows the partially developed SF that we are building for the CFO of a software company whose goal is improving forecasting accuracy. The right column has been populated with the usage scenarios we developed earlier that were relevant to the buyer's goal.

Solution Formulator Template

Figure 8-1:  Solution Formulator Template

Solution Formulator-in-Progress

Figure 8-2:  Solution Formulator-in-Progress

But what's that column labeled "Diagnostic Questions" on the left of Figure 8-2? We have just created four usage scenarios that might be used to enable a CFO to visualize how he or she could improve forecasting accuracy. But the real test for this system comes when a salesperson tries to determine which of these usage scenarios a CFO would agree he or she needed, during a structured conversation. Consider how important the diagnostic process would have been in the selection of a doctor earlier in this chapter. In sales, since the diagnosis is so critical, does it make sense to abdicate this step to traditional salespeople?

For each usage scenario, therefore, we now create corresponding best practice diagnostic questions for the salesperson to ask in order to determine if the buyer has a need for the usage scenario described in the "event, question, player, action" (EQPA) question. In addition, it is helpful to seed questions that can be used to determine the potential value of a usage scenario to the buyer.

Diagnostic questions are used to better understand how the buyer is performing a function today—e.g., forecasting—and, ideally, the cost of doing it the way he or she is currently doing it. At the same time, good diagnostic questions help the seller build credibility, in the same way that a physician you meet for the first time builds credibility with you by asking insightful, intelligent questions that you are capable of answering

Now refer to Figure 8-3. This fills in the Diagnostic Questions column with the questions that a competent diagnostician would ask a buyer. (Remember: These are good questions only if the person with whom you're having the conversation can answer them—the point is not to embarrass someone with unanswerable questions.) Every conversation is different, and no conversation would follow the script outlined in Sections 1, 2, 3, and 4. Conversations have to follow their own flow; otherwise, they're not conversations. But if you look at these questions, you'll get the idea.

Solution Formulator Example

Figure 8-3:  Solution Formulator Example

How many usage scenarios will a given CFO want to engage? The answer lies between zero and four. (Zero means you're not calling on a qualified buyer as relates to forecasting accuracy; four approaches the upper limit that can be dealt with in a conversation that's scheduled for a half-hour.) Later, we'll describe a structured way for salespeople to navigate through SFs so they can lead the buyer to understand why he or she is having difficulty achieving a goal (diagnostic questions) and what is needed to achieve the goal (usage-scenario questions).

So we've now completed the first SF. Additional SFs would be created for each remaining goal on the menu for CFOs. After that, this same process would be repeated for each title/menu that is specific to an offering and vertical title. The final result is Sales-Primed Communications to enable sellers to have targeted conversations with the titles needed to sell, fund, and implement an enterprise CRM system.

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