Diagnostic tools are a critical element of any sales organisation’s arsenal. A detailed diagnostic questionnaire will enable the sales team to analyse their customers’ needs and sell them the right products at the right time. It has to be noted that there is no single ‘correct’ way to develop this type of questionnaire, much will depend on the type of business you are in and the industry in which you operate.

In order to uncover the potential for your product your diagnostic tool must be structured around your particular industry.

Defining the diagnostic tool

A diagnostic tool for sales can be defined as follows: it is a structured, repeatable method of acquiring and analysing customer information in order to quantify the potential purchases of specific products or solutions.

Capturing a variety of data about the customer on a regular basis enables the sales organisation to respond quickly and accurately to customer needs. If, for example, you become aware of the fact that your customer has employed a significant number of new sales people, you could assume that the demand for your product would increase.

Questions to include

Regardless of the market sector in which your business operates, there are some fundamental questions that should be built into any diagnostic tool:

  • What does the business do?
  • How can you align your solutions with your customers’ needs?
  • What is the company’s turnover?
  • How many people does the business/division employ?
  • What is the selling price of the business’s products/services?
  • How much product is sold/used ?
  • What is the business hierarchy?
  • What would the decision-making process in the organisation be?
  • What business processes are used within the organisation?
  • What type of infrastructure does the business have?
  • Is the business seasonal?
  • What geographic area does the business operate in?

Creating the ideal solution

The answers to the above questions will enable your sales team to identify the best solution you can offer the client, in relation to their specific circumstances. One point to note – don’t waste your time or the client’s asking questions that are not relevant.

All you have to do is qualify and quantify the need relative to your proposition. This type of knowledge has the additional benefit of enabling you to quantify the value of the solution that you are offering to the client. It gives you the benefit of being able to explain the emotional, functional and financial value of what you have to offer.

The net result – you provide the right product, at the right price, at the right time, to the right person, in the right organisation.

Discipline and responsibility

It may seem obvious that you have to ask these types of questions to uncover your customer’s requirements, but it’s astounding to see how seldom this actually happens in the real world.

There is no doubt that insufficient emphasis is placed on the critical importance of the needs analysis process. In addition, insufficient thought is given to the structure of the needs analysis. It requires a great amount of discipline to get a sales team to comply with needs analysis completion, which is why it should be a key performance area for every member of the team.

Don’t just leave it up to sales to input data on the client. The entire organisation should be aware of the needs analysis process and be mandated to update information as and when discovered. Without a really solid, in-depth needs analysis process in place, your business may miss out on some lucrative opportunities that could be snapped up by your savvy competitors.