Stop Doing Customer Needs Analysis Meetings
It was fall of 1989. A young radio seller walked into a jewelry store on a cold call and asked the owner for a 30-minute meeting to learn about her business. The seller continued – “If I can learn about your business, I can potentially come up with a plan to help improve it.” The jewelry store owner reached into her desk drawer and pulled out piece of paper with the competitive radio station’s logo on it and told this young seller, “Here are the answers to all the questions you want to ask me in your customer needs analysis. Come back if you have some ideas.”
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB
Ouch… it was a tough lesson for me to learn.
Clients caught on to the whole “learn about your business” approach in the late 80s. They quickly grew tired of teaching salespeople about their business. The questions were the same, the process was monotonous and the payoff rarely came.
Last week while conducting a sales meeting for a group of Iowa stations, I suggested they stop doing Customer Needs Analysis meetings and instead become sources of business advantage to their prospects and clients.
At the end of the meeting, the sales manager raised her hand. “Jeff, we still train our reps to do CNAs and we have the CNA form. You’re saying we need to gather information before the meeting. Does that mean we don’t do CNAs anymore?”
I could hear the nervousness in her voice. Was I really going to tell her that they shouldn’t do CNAs? Of course not. My point was, the WAY some people are still doing CNAs is a problem.
Gaining valuable information when meeting with a client is more important now than it ever was. Today, however, the gathering process isn’t A meeting. It’s every meeting. Every time you’re in front of a client, you have an opportunity to ask a question to gather more information.
There is nothing wrong with having a “form” that you use for Customer Needs Analysis. It's a good idea. The bad idea is to let the form DIRECT the conversation rather than simply DOCUMENT the conversation. You’re not there to fill out the form, you’re there to have an engaging discussion with an advertiser/potential advertiser.
A Customer Needs Analysis is no longer a meeting It’s a continuous process.