• The Importance of the Rule of Three (Dig-Dive-Deeper)

    In Solution Selling, we stress the importance of always “digging-diving-deeper” when working with our customers to understand their business. However, does that apply even when we get the answer we want? My answer would be a resounding “YES!”

    Source: Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten

    Back in the 90s, I taught my sales force how to sell using ROI models. We even developed auto-magic calculators that illustrated IRR, NPV and simple ROI results they could easily share with customers. But — and that’s a big but — the results were to be shared only after they clearly understood the client’s expectations around an ROI. Today there are many ROIs floating around in our business. For instance, Premier Services has a wonderful, industry-accepted ROI of 334%. But does that mean we should share it out of hand?

    In a recent new hire onboarding role play, after setting the scenario with the class, I replied (as the customer) that a strong ROI would be very important to my company. The new student was happy to hear this response, since he knew he had a strong ROI proof statement to share with me. “Sir, you’ll be pleased to know that Premier Services delivers a 334% ROI!” My response? “I’m sorry to hear that we won’t be doing business together then, as my company requires a 400% ROI as a minimum hurdle to doing business.”

    The lesson to learn is this: even when you hear an answer you want to hear, you must “dig-dive-deeper” to really understand the customer’s business, challenges and expectations. The student should have “dug deeper” with me by asking a follow-up question such as:

    • “Matt, what does a strong ROI look like to your company?”
    • “What level of ROI is acceptable in your industry?”
    • “What ROIs are passing the ‘sniff test’ today?”
    • Or any of a number of other probing questions.

    Never fall prey to mutual mystification. Always “dig-dive-deeper” and understand your customer’s issues completely before offering a quick answer or solution.

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    Photo by Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten