Discover First, Prescribe Later

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Discover First, Prescribe Second (or Third, or Fourth, or ….)
Imagine walking in to the doctors office and, instead of opening your medical records, taking some vital signs, looking in your ears (what ARE they looking for, anyhow?), and hearing your story, he or she just hands you a prescription and says “Everyone has the flu right now, you must too.  You need this medicine.  Take it.”
Would you fill the prescription (assuming it wasn’t for “medical” marijuana)?
Would you go to that doctor again?   How would you feel?
Now, imagine meeting Jim.   He’s a sales leader for SMACmeUp.com.
Being with THE leading firm in Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (THE hot stuff these days!),  Jim’s seen all the pain points in a wide range of customers.  His solutions ARE the best.
They have JPMorgan and Walmart on their customer roster.  With those two names they MUST have a great product, right?
Why don’t YOU know of them already?  He’s sure that YOU have problems that HE can solve.  All you need to do is listen to him.  He talks constantly.  Every one of your intelligently probing questions, honed from years of experience so that you can understand his offering in terms that make sense to you, are deflected so he can tell you more about his successes.
What do you do?   Unfortunately, some people are in awe of Jim and bite on his approach.  Most people, however, don’t like Jim.   They tune him out.  Jim reflects on the call and how stupid you are for not calling him back.   You reflect on the call and shake your head, thrilled that it’s over and vowing to never take his call again.
Don’t be Jim.
How can people know my pain walking in the door?  Why do they feel a need to paint me into a corner where I must have their stuff?  After all, a good product sells itself.  The trick to selling it is to get out of the way by making people feel comfortable with you, educating them at their level and, in the process, building a relationship.
How do you do that?   My experience is that the successful salespeople DISCOVER FIRST and, only when they understand me, my company, and the situation, prescribe LATER.
Discovery is a way of building your own knowledge base about a prospect or customer while at the same time building a relationship of trust.   It is not a questionnaire, it’s a conversation at a measured pace.
Get to know them, just like you trust your doctors when they get to know you.   You have to educate them on your product or service, but do so in chunks.  I don’t know too many people who aren’t interested in learning something new.  They just don’t want it delivered via a Beer Bong.   They have to taste it, savor it, see if it’s what they want and not just get drunk on it.    If you do it right, they will be so educated and comfortable that they’ll write their own prescription!
The best sales interactions I’ve had are with people who look to really understand me and my situation while also allowing me to understand their offerings.   That happens through an engaging discussion where, if nothing else, you make a friend, expand your network, hone your conversational skills, and grow your knowledge base.   It’s a win/win regardless of the sales outcome.    At some point in that conversation we both realize that (1) it was nice meeting and we part ways wishing each other good luck with our pursuits or (2) there’s a potential match of need and solution and we should take it to the next level.    If you’re going to the next level, that’s where you can start testing prescription OPTIONS within the trusting foundation you’ve built on your way to a long-term mutually-beneficial relationship.
Try it.    You might like it.    And…. DON’T BE JIM, please!
by Mr. CIO On-Point
Mr. CIO OnPoint currently serves as a CIO in the technology industry.   OnPoint comes from a long IT background, starting in end-user support and advancing through infrastructure, application, and consulting roles to CIO and cross-functional executive leadership.  OnPoint has served in companies of all sizes in a range of industries.  OnPoint is active in IT industry organizations, contributing thought leadership in the IT profession, advising emerging companies, and offering his expertise to support emerging IT leaders and youth pursuing careers in IT.  After being frustrated for years with ineffective sales approaches, OnPoint contributes case studies here to help salespeople be more effective at approaching CIO’s in a way that allows them to make their value proposition clear and start  meaningful mutually-beneficial relationships.    He also provides examples of what not to do.   Unfortunately these examples happen way too often.
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