What’s Your Problem?

Across hundreds of sales organizations, we’ve consistently found that the most effective sales teams aren’t the ones telling the customer what they can do. The best sales teams ask the customer relevant questions, and then determine what the customer should do. They do their homework and they approach the customer’s challenge from multiple perspectives – with questions, not assertions.

To start, you can ask questions related to your customer’s challenge, specifically in terms of financial performance, its markets, its products, and resources. These questions deal with the business’s priorities.

1. Financial challenges apply to the customer’s growth or profitability, either overall or in specific areas. Often, this appears be the customer’s main challenge and it’s usually the topic the customer talks about most.

2. Market challenges refer to issues the customer has in specific segments or geographies. Ask your team: are there specific challenges the customer is trying to address for certain markets? Does the customer want to deal with a certain geography or customer segment that may be feeding into that challenge?

3. From a product or service standpoint, what is your customer trying to accomplish?  Is the customer’s challenge being driven by any priorities that can be solved with certain products or services?

4. Resources in this context are the customer’s challenges relative to talent and organizational capabilities. How can your sales coverage model and your organization’s pool of knowledge contribute to addressing the overall challenge?

What questions help you to understand your customer’s real challenge?

If you missed our webinar in December, you can still catch it on YouTube: The Art of Innovation. Let us know how innovation can work in your sales organization!


Mark Donnolo is the managing partner of SalesGlobe and author of The Innovative Sale, available in bookstores in January. To learn more, visit SalesGlobe.