Maybe you’ve heard people talking about a business requirements analysis plan. You may have heard them say it’s one of the necessary stages in a successful sale. But do you really know how to use it (in all its various forms)?
Let’s break down the three key components of an effective business requirements analysis plan which will get you selling more (and more easily)!
What is a business requirements analysis plan?
A business requirements analysis plan lets you uncover the prospect/customer’s buying requirements, expectations, issues and motivations, allowing you to prepare the ground for your sales pitch, so you can be specific and powerful.
For the customer analysis phase to be successful, the business requirements analysis plan requires questions to be asked, but first and foremost there is a need for the customer to do the talking. It shouldn’t come across as a police investigation, but rather as an exchange (involving sharing) with the customer based on their needs. See the subtle difference?
That’s why the sales representative needs to demonstrate sensitivity and intelligence when putting questions to the customer. The process needs to feel more like a conversation. For example, rather than just asking question after question, the sales rep could bring in information which supports the customer’s statements before going on to ask new questions. This is one way of creating a meaningful discussion.
How about an example? “Yes, that’s right! You know, in many companies we’ve visited, the sales staff they hired were wasting 80% of their time in the company rather than being out in the field. I can explain what we did to reverse this trend. But first, tell me… how do you…? “.
To make a success of your business requirements analysis plan, and pinpoint the decision-making triggers which drive buying, you need to factor in at least 3 key points:
1 -Let the customer express his needs, and encourage him to go into detail
The business requirements analysis plan is definitely not the moment for putting forward clever sales pitches.
There may be times when you can focus on the solutions your company offers, but this certainly isn’t one of them.
Instead, this is when your attitude needs to be 100% customer-focused. Concentrate on the customer and his needs, and encourage him to talk, using the different question types: open questions, mirror questions, deflection questions, etc.
Be aware that there are many hidden traps at this stage:
- Falling back too quickly on your sales pitch,
- Monopolising the conversation,
- Being content to supply basic information (remaining superficial)
- Asking questions for questions’ sake (because you’ve learned that you’re supposed to ask questions while selling)
- Not listening to the answers (because you’re thinking about what’s coming next)
So ask the customer questions, listen and take notes, but let them take the initiative, and point them in the right direction by asking good questions… ones which will let you construct your proposal.
The only time you’re entitled to interrupt is if your prospect seems to be getting away from the point. You should then lead them back to the main path with a well-placed reframing question.
Here’s one which is polite but very effective: smile and say this to your customer: “Yes, I completely agree with you! Something like that happened to me when I… But weren’t you telling me just now that…? “.
2- The second key point in an effective business requirements analysis plan: understanding the background to the requirement
The background to the requirement is everything that relates to the prospect’s requirements and expectations. If you understand that, you can enrich your business requirements analysis plan and make an offer which has more chance of stealing a march on the competition, who may not be fully aware of all the in’s and out’s.
For example, the background to your prospect’s requirement may include considerations such as:
- The end user of the proposed product/solution
Imagine you’re selling archive management software, and you’ve realised the end user is not the person you’re talking to (who is very experienced), but an intern (who is a relative newcomer to this area).
Having understood this detail, you could then suggest your proposal could include free training for that intern (one hour of remote Skype training), which would save your contact from having to find this time himself. After all differentiating factors like this come at little cost to you.
- History of solutions implemented in the past to meet this requirement
Here, your main concern is to understand which solutions have proven effective, and why the customer wants to change them. And what solutions have failed? What are the sources of dissatisfaction / areas of possible improvement for the current solution? And so on.
Doing this will ensure that when putting your proposal together, you don’t venture onto slippery slopes and have your offer flatly rejected.
You can only understand the background to the requirement if you ask your prospect questions and actively listen. Be wary of things that are said quickly or not stated clearly, which could easily pass unnoticed. They are often goldmines of information for those who take the time to dig a little.
3-The third key aspect of a successful business requirements analysis plan: uncover the decision-making issues and criteria.
It’s very simple: your customer won’t ever buy your product if it doesn’t meet his decision-making criteria and address the issues he faces.
These criteria and issues may relate to various points including product price, durability, warranty; short delivery times, perceived user-friendliness.
These aren’t things you can just guess. That’s why you have to make sure you include them in your business requirements analysis plan.
You can target them with questions incuding:
- “What’s really important for you in this sale?”
- “What would it take for you to work with us?”
- “What exactly is the decision-making chain?”
- “What are the limiting factors in this project?”
- “Why are you looking to change the existing solution?”
In addition to these questions, you can identify what basic French sales theory refers to as your customer’s “SONCAS” motivators.
In English, the equivalent acronym would be SPNCMS. By paying attention to the words your customer uses (which you’ll be noting down carefully for later re-reading), you’ll know his main focus is on Security, Pride, Novelty, Comfort, Money or Sympathy.
For example, suppose he often uses words or phrases such as “I’m worried”, “Risk”, “Caution”, “Guarantee”, etc. If so, you can be sure his main concern is Security.
If he often uses words such as “Change”, “Innovation”, “Original”, “Progress” and “Future”, you can conclude he has an appetite for Novelty.
And so on…
Verbal communication is key during the requirements analysis phase, but it’s not the whole story. You need to pay even more attention to his gestures, the intonation of his voice, his posture. In short, his non-verbal communication!
This may allow you to combine your prospect’s SONCAS profile with his DISC or HBDI profile. And this, in turn, will help you tailor your pitch to be more convincing.
Doing this will enable you to ask questions which will let your contact tell you more, and sometimes reveal nuggets of precious information.
For example: “When I raised the question of budget, I noted a certain doubt in the tone of your voice. Is there something I should know before I submit my proposal to you? “
4- Bonus: one last piece of advice for improving your business requirements analysis plan
So you now have everything you need to produce a business requirements analysis plan which gives you the best chances of converting the sale!
But if you want to go even further, here’s one last piece of advice for the road: When you put together your sales plan, ask yourself 3 questions based on the business requirements analysis plan:
1)What do I know about my prospect (Internet research, last meeting, shared network, etc.)?
2)What do I want to know (to help me sell my product/solution)?
3)How am I going to get that information (what question do I need to ask)?
This will ensure you go looking for the key information, rather than just falling into sterile sales clichés and the mistakes listed above.
Now the ball’s in your court: start using this advice, get practising, and your sales will get easier and easier over time!