posted by Anna Buehler on Monday, July 17, 2017 in Office Equipment Blog

Recently I was in the process of car shopping. For me, It was a dreaded experience, for the sales reps I encountered, it was probably even worse.

I walked into every dealership with the same criteria: small SUV, new or used (depending on price and mileage), safety features, and all-wheel drive. Seems simple right? But it hadn’t been for one reason.

Not a single sales rep had taken the time to find out why I was shopping for a new car or why I wanted these features.

During the high-level prospecting sit down, they asked feature-based questions then jumped immediately to show me cars. One rep skipped the prospecting sit down all together and took me straight to test drive. He put me in a car with all of the bells and whistles and of course I got excited. It had every feature I wanted and more. Before I left, we talked financials, negotiated a price, and even put down a $500 commitment fee which allowed me take the vehicle home. I drove off the lot at 8:25pm and was back on the lot by 7:54am the next morning with the vehicle asking for my $500 back. Once I walked away from the dealership, I realized this car, though rich in features, did not fit my real needs.

Though office equipment sales cannot compare to car sales, you may have encountered a similar type of customer who got excited about your solution but ultimately didn’t buy. What might have led to that happening?

In my case, the sales rep missed a few questions in the needs assessment stage of their sales process. He went from prospecting to solution selling. He didn’t take the time to find out what the need behind my need was. When your sales reps are talking to your customers, are they spending enough time in the needs assessment stage before offering a solution?  Here are a few open-ended questions a sales rep could ask to dig deeper. 

  • Tell me more?
  • What do you mean?
  • What issues are you facing with your current solution?
  • What other things are going to be factors in your decision?
  • There are always risk and uncertainties with projects like this… why not just leave things as they are?
  • When it comes to price, delivery, service, and ease of use, which one of these is most important? Which is the least?

Common pitfalls:

  • Choosing not to ask a question because you think you know the answer. Ask it anyway. You may be surprised by the response.
  • When you have a customer that says they’re only exploring their options right now, ask them, “What are the risks of not changing today.” Their answer to this could determine if they're actually ready to buy or not.

Your sales reps are going to encounter sales that stall, but if you look at those sales critically, you’ll find that something may have been missed during the needs assessment phase. Be sure to train your reps for the excited buyer, and help them transition their questions from features to needs.

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About The Author

Anna Buehler, Marketing Specialist in the Office Equipment Group at GreatAmerica, is responsible for providing creative marketing support and brand education within the Office Equipment sector. Anna graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Business Marketing.

  1. best practice
  2. sales
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