In sales situations, it’s not unusual to come across prospects that appear at first to be largely content with the status quo, even though you know from your experience with other similar organisations that they could be doing far better. But unless you can shift their perspective, you’re unlikely to persuade them of the need to change.
Their attention needs to be drawn to the gap between their current situation (sticking with the “status quo”) and what they could be achieving. And one of the most effective ways of getting them thinking - once you’ve got them focused on a potentially promising issue - is ask them how they would rate their current situation on a 1-10 scale and follow that up - this is the critical part - with “so what would it take for you to give that issue a 10”? ...
Advocates of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) will probably recognise the approach. It’s a deceptively simple question, but sales people using this technique for the first time are often surprised by how much they end up learning from the prospect’s answer. Even when the prospect is broadly positive about their current situation, few of them are prepared to give it a full 10 out of 10.
Mind the Gap!
It’s in the gap between their current assessment and a perfect 10 score that your opportunity often lies. By getting them to focus on the gap - and what it would take to bridge it - you can often get them talking about latent concerns that they might not have raised if asked the question directly.
The things that they see as still needing to be perfected can - in the hands of an experienced sales person - often be amplified from something that at first appears to be a minor frustration into something that they recognise actually has a significant impact on their business and demands closer attention.
Stories can be incredibly powerful at this point, particularly if they relate to people in similar roles in similar organisations who had previously underestimated the impact of the identified issue on their own business - and where your approach had helped them knock down another barrier on the route towards a perfect 10.
“What would it take for you to give that a 10” is an incredibly powerful focusing question in any sales conversation. It gets the prospect thinking about their situation - often from a previously unconsidered perspective - and it gives the sales person invaluable clues as to where they might take the conversation.
“What would it take for you to give that a 10” provides the opportunity to open up a latent need that would otherwise have remained hidden, and to develop the implications in a non-confrontational way. It’s a hugely powerful technique, and it’s one that I recommend you strongly encourage your sales people to use.
What would it take for you to give this idea a "10"?
You might want to start getting them into the habit by asking them to rate the current state of their key sales opportunities in their sales pipeline. If nothing else, it will give you a sense of how much they really understand about the prospect, and how much wishful thinking might be going on.
With that in mind, let me conclude with a question for you: On a 1-10 scale how satisfied are you with the current state of your customer acquisition process - and what would it take for you to give it a 10?”
If the gap is more than you are happy with, you might want to take our 10-minute self assessment - it could provide some clues as to how your organisation could become best-in-class...