Need identification

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Seven Stages[edit]

The full Selling Process consists of:

  1. preapproach
  2. approach
  3. need identification
  4. presentation
  5. handling objections
  6. closing the sale
  7. post-sale follow-up.

In the art of selling, Need identification is one stage in a seven-stage personal selling process.

Need Identification[edit]

In this stage the salesperson takes a qualified prospect through a series of question and answer sessions in order to identify the requirements of the prospect. During this step, the salesperson will attempt to help the buyer identify and quantify a business need or a "gap" between where the client is today and where they would like to be in the future. Based on that gap, needs can be clarified to determine if the solution will fill all, or part of the overall gap.

From this procedure the saleperson is able to come up with a proposal suggesting various products/services that will suffice the need as presented by the prospect.

The series of questions of need identification (or need assessment) are categorized in five different categories. These questions being:

Situational questions - deals with obtaining factual information regarding the buyer’s current situation (Spiro). This factual information reveals the potential ideas of how the salesperson’s products could accommodate the customer’s present needs. In most cases, the salesperson’s research during the pre-approach stage develops the foundation of the situational questions. An example of this would be:

  -How often do you have to place a purchase order to receive another shipment of inventory for this product?

Problem discovery questions - to be able to show the customer that their current or potential problems could possibly be resolved by the salesperson’s products or services. The answers that are stemmed from this helps the salesperson to be able generate ideas of how to persuade the customer. One way to ask such a question would be:

  -Have you recently received any products that had defects?

Problem impact questions - the idea behind these questions is for the customer to become aware of the underlying consequences (cost and time) that could occur if such problems went unsolved. A typical question a customer would be asked is:

  -How do the defect products affect your current production costs?

Solution value questions - involves highlighting the buyer’s problems and showing the potential value of a solution. The salesperson’s objective is to inform their customer about what they could gain if presented with the right solution to the problem. An example of this would be:

  -If the percentage of the defect products decreased, how much would that save you?

Confirmatory questions- also known as trial closes. What typically happens during these questions is establishing that the buyer is interested about the salesperson’s products/services and would like to continue to hear more about them. A buyer would normally here a similar question like so:

  -Would you be interested in our products if I provided evidence that our products would have guaranteed satisfaction?

Please keep in mind that a salesperson asks these questions in the order presented above. It is important that the salesperson knows their customers well for they could identify the inefficiencies and opportunities of the situation which can lead to important resources (skills, ideas, and linkages to other resources)(Dwyer).

Meeting Objections[edit]

Meeting objections is an important step for a seller to learn to handle. When the client objects, it usually means they are interested in what has been presented to them. There are three type of objections; price or value objections, product/service objections, procrastinating objections and hidden objections. Generally these three objections can all be handled easier through listening, clarifying, respecting, and responding.

The purpose of listening to the buyer is to gain as much knowledge as possible about their objection. Showing interest can also show them that you want to know their concerns in order to help them. Do not interrupt the buyer while they are speaking to. That can quickly close the deal and result in a loss of the sale.

Clarifying the objection can allow you to ask questions to gain more information. Be sure to not overwhelm the buyer with questions. It also allows you to determine if you understand the buyer to ensure there are no misunderstandings.

Respecting the concerns of the buyer demonstrates that the seller is appreciative of their concerns. It is important to not become defensive; the buyer is not criticizing you the seller, but wants to make sure they make the best decision for their company.

Responding to the objection is important. The seller does not just want to ignore the buyer and their concerns. It shows they value their buyer-seller relationship and will hopefully not damage the rapport that developed. The type of response to the objection depends on the type; price or value objection, product/service objection, and procrastinating objections.

See also[edit]


  • "The Free Compendium of Professional Selling". United Professional Sales Association. Retrieved January 2005. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  • Dwyer, Robert F., Tanner, John F (2009). Business Marketing, Fourth Edition, McGraw-Hill Irwin, Boston
  • Spiro, Rosann L., Gregory A. Rich, and William J. Stanton. Management of a Sales Force. 12. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2008. 75-78. Print.
  • "Objection-handling process." Changing Minds, n.d. Web. 10 Jul 2011.

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