Imagine this scenario: You are sitting in an exam room at your doctor’s office. Your doctor walks in, says hello, and begins prescribing a treatment for you.

“Doctor,” you ask, “how do you know how to treat me if you haven’t asked me any questions about how I feel?”

“I have notes right here,” he answers, “from our receptionist. It says that when you called for your appointment you said you have a stomach ache.  I’m telling you how I treat stomach aches.”

Clearly, this situation is absurd. No doctor would prescribe a treatment before interviewing and examining his patient.  No doctor would assume, as he makes first contact with a patient, that he knows exactly what kind of stomach ache this patient has.

So why are 42,256,849 sales people doing this same thing, at this very minute, all over the world?  Why are sales people walking into meetings with customers and delivering pitches?  Why are sales people blowing chance encounters with prospects by delivering pre-scripted “elevator pitches?” Isn’t it just as absurd for a sales person to do this as it is for a doctor?  How in the world do you know what kind of stomach ache your customer has?

Don’t prescribe before you diagnose.  A sales conversation should be diagnostic, not prescriptive.

1 Comment

  • Greg
    Jul 17, 2010 - 11:46 am

    Take it a step further. The patient who takes responsibility for his or her health care will often do their own research because of the abundance of diagnostic tools available on the internet. The patient has some ideas based on what she has found. While the doctor may go through a set diagnostic procedure, he never asks the patient what she has found through her own initiative and research. This adds insult to injury.

    So it is with Sales. Prospects are coming into the process with much more information. Frankly, they don’t want to deal with a salesperson until they have to. It is important to honor the research and the vision that has already been created by the prospect before even moving into a diagnostic process.

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