More Questions, Greater Understanding in Sales

More Questions, Greater Understanding in Sales

Yesterday, I was in a meeting with a large, enterprise prospect in Los Angeles, CA. The prospect currently has a seven-figure budget to do a hardware and software refresh in its corporate datacenter this year. As a general rule, companies can save 40-70% when they move their physical IT to the public cloud on enterprise-grade platforms like AWS (the prospect confirmed that they had estimated a 50% savings). While it is exciting to help companies reduce their IT infrastructure expenses by half, sometimes cost savings are not enough.

Readying the room is important and I sensed that the SVP of Engineering (the decision maker) needed more, so I asked him, “What do you think of these costs savings? Are they meaningful to you?” He then said, “They are important, but not the most important.” Apparently his predecessor had convinced the executive team that large capital expenses were a necessary part of doing business. They just assumed that these type of initiatives had to be funded. Telling them that he saved $500K would receive a “nice job” versus the assumed elated response.

I then asked, “What is most important to you?” The SVP said, “Being nimble and enabling innovation.” Internal groups were complaining that IT was too slow. He needed the ability to respond faster. He also wanted to enable innovation so people could “experiment and fail more rapidly” as they worked to differentiate themselves in the market.

Why is this important? You must understand the real drivers, motivations of needs of the customer or prospect before you can help solve their problems. Asking more questions allows you to go two to three levels below the surface. Case in point: The SVP’s problem was innovation and nimbleness; cost reduction was a bonus.

All contents copyright © 2013, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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