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Gain more insight with each client interaction

Posted by Tony Hall on 30 April 2019
Gain more insight with each client interaction

When we compare the level of client insight between high performing and mid-level B2B sales people, it is extraordinary how big the gap is. So, we set about trying to understand how the high performers can gain so much more insight with the same number of client interactions.

What we found out was the conversations the high performers are having with their clients are completely different to the conversation that the mid-level performers are having. There are two things that drive these different conversations:

  1. The high-performers have a broader and deeper benchmark for the insight they want to uncover
  2. The high performers ask much better questions that open up the conversations to a new level

To unpack each area, the broader and deeper insight is based on the understanding that the key insight is not only knowing what the clients are doing (or trying to do), but WHY they are doing it. This goes to their motivations and once this is understood clients become more predictable.

On the quality of the questions the high performers plan for their conversations, they don't just wing it and hope they uncover the insight they are looking for.  They will spend the first few minutes on a client meeting further developing their rapport through shared interests. When it's time to kick off the meeting the high performer commences by framing-up the conversation they want to have. The frame-up outlines the topic of conversation, provides context for the client and also indicates what's in it for the client to engage in the conversation. Then the ask a leading question, that requires the client to think about their response. From there the conversation flows as the high performer askes relevant drill down questions to unpack the detail around the topic. These drill down questions are the how, what, when, where, why questions.

The high performer is switched on with active listening and is able to pick up on what the client says and then uses this insight to extend the conversation to gain a deep understanding of their situation and motivations.

Here's an example; let's say you want to uncover what your client's business plan is. You could just ask them "what's your plan for this year?" But this is pretty general and doesn't provide any context as to why you are asking the question. This often leads to general answers or even being pushed back.

The alternative is to frame-up the conversation by using some of your market insight and then ask an open question.

"As your market segment is experiencing disruption from global players and at the same time is declining due to the shift in demand being driven by the tightening up of available financing What do you see as your top three priorities between now and the end of the year?"

Your client may need a few moments to think about how they will respond, then listen to their answer and ask the natural drill down questions. An example could be.. "So, if you could fix that issue, what impact will that have on the business?" Or you might ask, "If you can't fix that what impact will that have on the business?"

These deeper conversations will generate relevant insight more quickly which will lead to uncovering more opportunities.

Author: Tony Hall
About: Tony spent the first 15 years of his career in the retail industry in sales, product management, product sourcing & buying, advertising and general management. The past 20 years he has been in sales & marketing, specialising in sales and sales management behaviours. He has worked with sector leading companies within automotive, banking & finance, capital equipment, construction, retail, insurance, manufacturing, media, professional services and IT industries. As a sales and sales management behavioural expert, Tony has assisted clients to achieve incremental growth, increase market share and profitability through proactive customer engagement and robust go-to-market strategies. He has a strong track record of delivering measurable results for his clients.
Connect via: LinkedIn
Tags: Sales Behaviours

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