for Problem Clarification
client doesn’t have a clear picture of a problem they have without
conducting some additional
analysis. The same applies to sales reps. Without unlocking
the valuable information
contained in a client’s head, it is impossible to make an appropriate
recommendation that will truly solve a customer need.
In order to
successfully uncover a customer’s product or service
problem, a sales professional needs to use an effective
questioning strategy. This strategy will enable you to discover
concerns, dissatisfactions and problem areas. In those cases
when a customer doesn’t care about a situation or simply hasn’t
put two and two together, questioning can cause the light bulb to
go on in the client’s mind.
Problem clarification will help you
in three ways:
Customers who are aware of
their issues will be more likely to accept and sign off on solutions
that address those issues.
You will gain a greater understanding
of what the customer wants and values in a working relationship
with a vendor.
This process will help you
identify risks, as perceived by your client. By knowing these
risks and sources of pain, you can position your products and services
After you have
set the direction of the call and begun the questioning process,
the next logical
approach to take is to find your client’s real problems and
you can solve them. Ultimately, what does your client need and why
do they need it?
There are three types of questions that
will enable you to gather pertinent
Diagnostic Questions will uncover the customer’s
pain points and how they are caused. They will enable you to get
to the “what” and the “why”.
Implication Questions help determine the effect
of a customer’s
pain. What implication does this problem have on a client’s
customer base? How does this problem affect
their ability to compete? These questions can either focus on possible
risk or possible benefit. Each serves a different purpose and can
bring to light the danger of
not acting on the problem as well as the benefit of acting on the
problem (via your solution, of course).
Confirming Questions allow you to confirm and
verify the pain, the requirements a client might have and the willingness
to take action.
Here are some sample questions from
all three questioning types:
Questions: Finding out the “what” and “why”
of your client’s pain
- What problems
have you had with your existing
much time have you allocated for the deployment of the servers?
- What reporting
processes have you implemented to document these failures in the
does your support staff handle the problem today?
difficulties have you faced with your existing supplier?
the problem lie with the quality
of product that is shipped out?
are your expectations in regards to raw materials needed for production?
Questions: Helping them see the risk and reward
of action or inaction
- What happens
if your customer calls aren’t returned in a timely manner?
would you benefit if your supply delivered from a warehouse closer
to the manufacturing plant?
the responsibility for a network outage?
type of reaction will the board have if the plant faces the same
will the public react if the project is finished ahead of time?
could the savings be reallocated to help your team with productivity?
would be the effect on personnel who receive the new system?
would the savings in this area help you with your quarterly numbers?
Questions: Synching up your client’s pain with
can a new system help resolve that problem?
if I understand you correctly, shifting the burden to an automated
process would increase factory output?
will it take to eliminate the problem?
do you anticipate solving the concern?
a company-wide plan would resolve the skill gap and improve your
The more information
you can gather, the better chance you have of proposing the right
solution. Again, without complete date, you run the risk of shooting
at a target you can’t even see.