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Diagnose Before You Prescribe

You’re driving to work when suddenly the engine starts to sputter. As the situation gets worse you pull into the service department of a large dealership. After briefly explaining your problem to the service manager he hands you a work order and says, “I just had the same problem with my car. All you need to do is replace your fuel pump and your car will run fine. If you would just sign here, we’ll get started on your car right away.” “But shouldn’t you run some tests before making this repair?” you ask. “No need to” he replays “As I mentioned a new fuel pump solved my problem so I’m sure it will solve yours.”

Would you sign the work order?

Probably not. But why would you hesitate? The service manager is an experienced professional who knows what he’s doing, so replacing the fuel pump may well solve your problem. The reason you’d be reluctant to okay this repair is because the service manager failed to gain your confidence. It’s difficult to believe someone when they don’t diagnose the problem before prescribing a solution. Had the service manager taken just a few minutes to look under the hood of your car, you would most likely have been receptive to his recommendation. Someone walks into your center and asks for a price for 5M 8 ½ x 11” fliers, printed 2 over 1. WHAT DO YOU DO? DO YOU DIAGNOSE?

Someone walks into your center and asks for a price for 5,000 size 8 ½ x 11” fliers, printed 2 over 1. Although you could quote the job exactly as is, you know that your best chance of landing this account is by making some recommendations that could make the prospect’s fliers more effective. Making these recommendations will differentiate your quote, allow you to justify a higher price and show the prospect that you offer more than the local and online printer. So, you show the prospect how, for just a small increase in price, you can print his fliers 4 over 4. The extra color will make his fliers more noticeable and that could increase response. Although you did a great job of helping the prospect, instead of placing the order he says “Let me think it over and I’ll get back to you” and you never see him again.

What went wrong? You lost the sale by acting like the service manager and making a recommendation without first looking under the hood.

Here’s an all important rule. Always gain the prospect’s confidence, by asking probing questions that show the prospect that you understand the prospect’s business and marketing challenge, before making a recommendation. Here’s how to get permission to ask probing questions.

Mr. Prospect, I’d be happy to quote these fliers exactly as they are, but if I can just ask you a few brief questions I might be able to share some ideas that could make your flier more effective and increase response. Would that be okay?

* What are you selling?
* Who’s your target market?
* How are you distributing these fliers?
* How will the recipient reply?
* Have you distributed these fliers before?
* What was the response?
* How many responses are you hoping to get?
* Do you mind me asking, “Why you decided to print this flier 2 over 1”?

Sharing ideas that could make your customer’s marketing material more effective, will fall on deaf ears, until the customer believes that you understand his business and marketing challenge. So always ask probing questions before offering a solution.

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UPS Worldport

The National Geographic Channel has been running the news story “Ultimate Factories” - UPS’s Worldport.  You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWAwL3Rlbjo  It is very educational. Most customers and employees do not clearly understand what packages go through.


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