Why the “20-Questions” Inquisition Doesn’t Work For Business Service Companies
Your prospects are busier than ever. So imagine their reactions when your salespeople whip out their “20-question” prospecting checklist and proceed to ask your prospect the same thing everyone else asks? Where’s the differentiation in that?
Executive buyers are saying, “Don’t play 20 questions with me, you should already know what I’m struggling with… And, I expect you to be able to tell me something I don’t already know about a problem I didn’t even know existed.”
The 20-question approach is more than 20 years old. While it was revolutionary at the time, it’s got a big problem. Prospects that are stuck in the status quo won’t be moved to make a change by a set of assessment questions. This is even truer for business services versus product selling where sometimes the latest greatest product revision will cause a customer to upgrade. It’s a much tougher call in the area of making changes to business services.
According to Forrester Research, 65 percent of executive buyers say they will give their business to the company that “creates the buying vision.” In other words, prospects will reward you with their business if you help them see the need to do something different and how that will impact their business.
Forrester has even started to coin a new term that replaces “solution selling”: “outcome selling.” Instead of relying on a series of questions to elicit pain that you map to a solution, the outcome selling approach requires you to bring a distinct point-of-view that shows where a prospect’s desired outcomes are at risk due to their “status quo” approach. Then you provide an insightful, fresh way for achieving the outcome with a contrasting new approach.
Here’s the difference. You are bringing ideas and insights that make your customer smarter instead of parroting a list of questions that anyone could ask, just waiting for a key word to pounce with the product pitch. You are adding value by helping the prospect see where their status quo is no longer safe and how they can get to a “new safe” that will help them realize their desired end state. Your business services company will set itself apart by focusing on your prospect’s outcomes and creating a buying vision instead of playing 20 questions hoping to make a link to something you offer.
We recently teamed up with Forrester Research to dive deep into this new approach. Check out this summary of our findings: