Still Using Needs-Based Sales Training?



Since the 1980’s the most popular sales training method has been on needs-based selling. Even today, many mortgage companies teach this approach to originators as a tactic for prospecting for brokers or referral sources. The trouble is that needs-based selling is no longer effective in a world where buyers have unlimited access to information.

Needs-based selling prompts originators to ask probing questions that match a company’s benefits with the buyer’s needs. Typical questions range from “What problems are you experiencing with your current lenders?” to “What problems are keeping you up at night?”  Needs-based selling was a good approach when primary information was obtained through the sales person but today, buyers conduct their own research and require the sales person to provide insight.

A recent Corporate Executive Board (CEB) study, The End of Solution Sales by Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, and Nicholas Toman, found that when customers have a need, they research solutions, rank options, set requirements and benchmark pricing — all before even having a conversation with a seller!

So what works in today’s sales environment? In the same study, CEB found that top-performing sales professionals don’t just sell more effectively—they sell differently. Here are a few of the strategies top producers use:

1. Evaluate prospects according to criterion different from those used by other salespeople, targeting agile organizations in a state of flux rather than ones with a clear understanding of their needs.

2. Seek out a very different set of stakeholders, preferring internal change agents over friendly informants.

3. Coach those change agents on how the best companies implement changes and educate them on what works.

According to the CEB study, “this means that boosting the performance of average salespeople isn’t a matter of improving how they currently sell; it involves altogether changing how they sell. To accomplish this, organizations need to fundamentally rethink the need based sales training and support provided to their sales reps.”

Are you still training originators on needs-based selling? If so, its time to make a change.