Bill Gibson – The Competitive Edge…Effective Needs Analysis!


Bill Gibson

(Sales Guru Magazine – December 2012)

Over 35 years ago I was earning in excess of the equivalent of R3M per year in Canada selling local radio advertising. Here in S.A. I often get asked “Bill, what is it that you do that helps close those large consulting/training contracts?” My answer in most part is “I’m Customer & Solution Focused utilising the Needs Analysis Approach to Selling.” This past year alone I have invested 40% of my time inside of one of the major banks teaching the Needs Analysis Approach to Selling. Why? Because it easily becomes a company’s competitive edge! Too often, we try to sell without knowing the client’s real needs, desires and preferences. This is a win/win method to maximise sales opportunities with a client.






Try the following:


  • Easy general questions in the beginning to build rapport and then ask the confidential, more private and financial questions at the end.
  • Integrate all 4 Types of Questions and use a variety of soft non-threatening openers.
  1. Closed Questions…usually with “Yes” or “No” or a limited choice.
  • “Have you started saving for retirement?”  Yes! No!
  • “What is the best time of day to see you…Morning or Afternoon?”
  1. Open Questions…usually have who, what, why, when and which near the beginning. Using Soft Openers in front make it more of a request reducing a client’s resistance or defensiveness.
Soft Openers (Form of Request)                          Open Questions
  • “Mr Botha, could you tell me…
  • “Aasifah, could you share with me …
  • “Mashudu, may I ask you…


who you now have your current account with?”…what you invest in Radio Advertising annually?”

when it is that you plan to trade your vehicle in?”



  1. Leading Questions…guide the conversation usually towards a positive outcome…often a yes. (A form of an Open Question or Closed Question)
  • “Wouldn’t you agree for cash flow purposes it is important to buy long term assets with a long term loan?”
  1. Directive Questions – direct the mind to a specific focus.
  • “Tell me what you heard here that your other family members would be interested in?”
  • “On a scale of 0 to 10 how effective is your media rep from XYZ Magazine?”
  • Avoid jumping ahead of the clients and listen to “how” they are saying what they are saying and listen to understand, not just to advise, sell, defend and respond. If you start selling half way through, it isn’t a Needs Analysis. Ask people to clarify, it is easier to target your presentation and meet the client’s request. Sell and/or suggest after you get all the information.
  • Write trigger words, circle things, put stars by them, underline important points and facts and write “important” beside certain things that you may utilise later to make a point or recommendation .Keep eye contact.  Don’t let your laptop build a barrier! Match the person’s body language, tone of voice and facial expression. 7% is in the words, 23% in the tone of the voice, 35% in the facial expression and 35% is in the body language. Every once in a while drop the pen, chat and listen.
  • Have a pool of questions to draw from for different situations, different market segments and different groups of people. There are also times when you will give input, do a little educating and give an answer to a client’s question. The key is to gather information, not to dominate the conversation with sales points and your opinions.  It is okay to use “self-disclosure” that builds rapport. Careful…don’t dominate. It’s about them, not you.
  • If possible, sit at 45 degrees or alongside the person and try to get the client to sit at a neutral table rather than at his/her desk. Changing locations or normal places in a room changes the person’s state of mind. Use tools, charts etc. to explain and educate. Contrast keeps their attention and helps to create energy!
  • Know all the products and services of your company and your company’s partners and divisions and actively look for and make note which one’s can be of assistance to the client at a profit to your total organisation. (Collaboration). Above all be sincere and truly look for ways to genuinely assist, coach and serve the client in terms of both his/her career challenges, business solutions and personality profile.
  • Evaluate, Confirm, Recommend and Close what business is possible at that time and/or set up a second meeting to come back with recommendations that are client focused and solution driven.

You can bust those 2013 Targets by taking the Needs Analysis Approach to Selling. Listen! Listen! Listen! And then respond! Best of success!

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