Greg Nutter was shocked by the number of people he’s come across who have been in sales for decades and were still making rookie mistakes. So he wrote a book to cover the fundamentals: P3 Selling: The Essentials of B2B Sales Success.
One of the three “Ps” that Greg covers in the book is problems. The problem might just be the most crucial part of the sales process. So where do you start?
Create awareness of problems
Greg terms B2B selling as “clerking.” Why? Someone gives you information, and then they ask for the order. It’s a two-step process. In B2B sales, giving someone information doesn’t create awareness. You have to ask good questions:
- “If you don’t fix that problem, what would the impact be?”
- “If you don’t fix the problem by year-end, what would it do to your business?”
Many times, a salesperson doesn’t know the right questions to ask. That’s when you use the ASR model: Ask, suggest, and recap.
Maybe you say, “This problem can contribute to staff turnover, which is costly in your business. Do you think that applies to you?” It’s a suggestion followed by a question. It makes people think about the potential issues. That’s how you begin to create awareness.
Tying it back to the need
Another thing that many salespeople don’t do is put a number on the problem. They should be asking, “How big is that problem?” You need to know the value of fixing the problem. If you don’t know, and someone asks for a discount, you’re stuck haggling over features.
But if you know what’s important to them, you can share how a discount wouldn’t meet their requirements. If you can tie it back to their need(s), the negotiation process becomes easier.
Whenever someone gets into the features of an offering, you want to emphasize that price is important. But make sure you don’t get into the weeds until you understand if it’s something that can solve their problem.
How big is the problem? Is it urgent? What is the financial impact of the problem? Who has that problem?
Sellers do three things:
- They try to understand the prospect’s perspectives.
- They want to influence those perspectives to point them toward the bigger problem.
- Create messaging that aligns with their problem.
In the absence of a well-defined problem or opportunity, discussion around products or features doesn’t make sense. It is only within the context of a problem that they make sense. So if you have a problem that’s worth $50 to solve but a product that costs $5,000, why would someone want it?
Diving into price, delivery time, advanced features, etc., is a waste of time until you understand the need. You want to look for needs that you can solve better than your competition.
Problem importance = Impact x Urgency
Sellers go into meetings and get excited to throw together a proposal. Then they get ghosted. Why? The salesperson likely didn’t understand or create enough awareness around the importance of solving that problem. If you don’t understand the importance of a problem, you can’t motivate someone to take action. The importance must be clear. If not, deals die.
Learn more about using problems to problem-solve in episode #381 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Greg also shares the other two “Ps” that salespeople need to be aware of in the buying process. Check it out!