sales objectiveA buying cycle begins with a motivation for change. In Neil Rackham’s description of the buying cycle, he uses the word “needs” to describe what is most important to the buyer early in the process.  We have renamed needs “primary business objectives” or PBOs to emphasize the buyer’s point of view at this stage.  

Just like Rackham’s needs, however, PBOs must be determined at the onset of the sales process.  

How do you determine the PBOs of a prospect when you meet them for the first time? If you’re lucky, they will simply tell you and you’ll be saved the hard part of digging for the key driver in the motivation to make a change. But salespeople shouldn’t count on luck.  

Or maybe you can safely make an assumption. If you have the title of an individual that you will be meeting with and that person is in a similar role as another customer you have in that same industry, will their PBOs be similar? Perhaps.   

Regardless of whether or not a prospect tells you the PBO at the outset, or you can make an assumption based on previous experience, it’s critical for salespeople to understand the importance of getting a PBO shared before launching into a presentation, asking a series of questions, or giving testimonials.  

This seems obvious, right? Yet, as simple as it seems, it is often overlooked–even by the most seasoned salesperson.  

As long as we stayed focused on learning this information, it’s usually easy to discover. Here are three ways to get the PBO shared by the key players:  

  • Ask questions. Ask questions to understand their business problems and pain. 
  • Offer a menu. Probe with a menu of business objectives that might be relatable. 
  • Tell a story. Tell a story about how you helped a similar customer, although you’ll have to make some assumptions to do this. This is also a way to share your insight into an area of the prospect’s business that they might not have thought about.  

Once you define the PBOs with a prospect, you’re well on your way to helping them identify a solution to address their problems: your solution!