One Question: Multiple Parts

Quick Summary: One seven-part question provides an accurate assessment of a sales opportunity.


Every experienced sales rep knows how to sell.  Everyone else in senior management, marketing, finance, and development has opinions on how the sale reps should sell. Each person’s answer is based on their perspective of the customer and the goods or services that are being offered.  There is one question with multiple parts that helps capture all of the elements that need to be considered in formulating an accurate answer.

It sounds simple. All you have to do is answer one question to show that you have a clear understanding of your sales strategy.  The question, however, has seven parts that need to be carefully considered.  Each part can have significant implications and impacts on your ability to close sales.  Further complicating the issue is the fact that the question needs to be answered multiple times, at least once for each audience.  On the surface the question seems simple and straightforward, but like the layers of an onion, once peeled back more thought is required.  Like a peeled onion, some of those layers may make you cry if you don’t understand and address them properly.

The Question:

“Who is the Customer and what is their Single Most Compelling Reason to Buy Now from You?”

The seven distinct parts of this question are highlighted below.

[Who] is the [Customer] and what is their [Single] [Most Compelling Reason] to [Buy] [Now] from [You]?”

The next seven articles in this collection examine each of these seven parts in greater detail.  Below are some quick, summary comments about each.

  1. Who:  Individuals, not companies, and certainly not market segments, make purchasing decisions.  It is critical to understand who that person is, and it may not be obvious.  Contrary to common advice provided by most sales “experts,” it is not the CEO.
  2. Customer:  The customer is defined as the person who actually makes the decision based on their determination of which alternative best meets the needs of the user. It may not be the actual end-user or the senior person who actually has signature authority.
  3. Single:  There is always one, fundamental buying motive.  There can be many supporting rationalizations, but there is one single reason.
  4. Most Compelling Reason:  In order to close a sale, the customer must move from a “nice to have” mindset to a “must have” belief, or other priorities or uses of funds will stop the sale.
  5. Buy: The goal is a sale, not a trial or a free offering. The focus needs to be securing an order that will result in recognizable revenue.
  6. Now: The order must be received in the short term, taking into account seasonal variations as well as your company’s ability to ship, install, and receive revenue.
  7. You:  Why do you think you will receive the order in the face of direct competition or competition for the dollars associated with the purchase? Also, how will you sell it, directly or through others?

As you consider this question, involve as many individuals from other disciplines in the organization as possible to capture their perspectives. Do not be surprised if individuals from sales, marketing, development, and finance have very different views on each of the seven parts of the question.  Also, do not be surprised if it takes a long time to develop an accurate answer.  The correctness of the answer is easy to determine.  Were you successful in meeting your revenue objectives?


Article Number : 5.010301   

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