Imagine a doctor who, as patients come in all day long and tell him what they want, simply gives it to them without asking any questions.  “Doctor, I’m stressed. I need Valium,” says a patient.  “No problem,” says the doctor.  “Here’s your prescription.”

And so it goes all day long – without the doctor ever questioning patients as to where their pain is located or, more importantly what is causing it.  The doctor fails to ask any questions about other medications patients might be taking that could interact negatively with the drugs he is about to prescribe.  Nor does the doctor ask any questions about patients’ family or personal history.  He merely gives patients exactly what they ask for – no questions asked.

Most of us wouldn’t call this type of individual a doctor.  We could probably call him a drug dealer.  Perhaps that terminology is a bit harsh, but not far from the truth.  Similarly, consider someone in my world of professional development.  A manger says, “My people are stressed, they need a stress-management program.”  In response, I simply comply – no questions asked.  Or in the world of selling, imagine a prospect who says I need a (fill in the blank), and the sales rep provides a solution without asking any questions.

A good doctor will tell you that a patient is responsible for providing information about his or her health.  For his part, a good doctor’s responsibility is to ask a series of questions that aid him in the diagnosis and prognosis process.  Based on all of this information, it is then up to the doctor to decide whether to order up a series of tests to further clarify and validate the patient’s health concerns.  Only after reviewing all of this data does the good doctor prescribe a course of treatment.  A good doctor does not treat symptoms – they find the problem.

This is exactly what good sales person should do.  Customers and prospects may come up with a variety of ailments that they believe need to be addressed by your products and services, but it is ultimately up to the sales person to ask appropriate questions to help them better understand the client’s unique needs. To diagnose first, find the real problem and prescribe a solution that can provide a meaningful difference.

People often ask me “so, what is a Sales Force Optimization Specialist?”  Just like a medical specialist, my clients come to me when past treatments and solutions have failed to provide the relief they need.  When they can no longer tolerate the symptoms.  Do you have a treatment plan for what ails your sales team?

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