Brain Battle (BB)

Approaching & Probing a Customer
N.B. Synopsis of ProSell© Vet- Animal Health focused selling skills program- Copyrights Eyad Harfoush- 2006

Why We Need an Approach?
Approach usually serve two main objectives. These are;

  1. Empty the customer’s mind of what he has been embedded in or thinking about.
  2. Create interest in the detailed story, getting his attention to your call.

Modern studies proved the span of concentration span of the customer to assess the importance of your subject is about 10 seconds. Here you need to pass his Attention Filter

How to Build an Approach?
  1. Building your approach will rely on the answer of the following questions:
    •What is your goal ?
    •Who is your customer ?
    •Who are you ?
    •What is your product ?
    •What is your message ?
  2. Remember, to pass the attention filter you need to be innovative, unique, or to touch a hot-point in customer’s agenda. Conventional approaches will not do you any good in these regards.
  3. Maximize, increase, grow, save, conserve, accumulate, acquire ( when we talk about positive values like sales, customer retention, productivity …etc) are all favorable wording for an approach.
  4. Minimize, reduce, decrease, eliminate, prevent ( when talking about negative values like expenses, challenges, risk …etc.) are also favorable when indicated.
  5. Specific, specifically, Immediate, Immediately, full, fully, sure, surely, accurate, accurately, thorough, thoroughly …etc. are assuring to your customer. Therefore it is commonly used in approach phase.

Types of Approach

1. Standard Memorized Approach
–Prepared centrally by the manager or trainer and memorized to field-force.
–Broad statements that can fit to almost all categories, and usually with a refined sales pitch.
–Good for starting salesmen. Until he gets the courage to tailor specific approach serving the goal of the visit.
–No listening, analysis or tailoring. Which make this type relatively a weak one.

“As you are aware doctor, under the current avian influenza epidemic status world-wide, we need to be even more cautious selecting only the best in class Biosecurity measures. Knowing the leading position of DuPont® in this field, I am here today to discuss how DuPont® integrated solutions can benefit your customers. With the widest range to cover their needs from hatchery to processing plants, every stage and part having the most appropriate biosecurity solution to match its functionality ” N.B. Example given here does not represent a promotional claim of DuPont® and is limited to educational uses

2. Need Satisfaction Approach

Some schools consider it as a subtype of the questioning approach (together with the consultative approach) as it usually capitalized on questions.
–A lot of careful questions to uncover needs and find opportunity through need satisfaction.
–Best for tailoring and characterized by high acceptance of customers, as people usually like to talk about their needs. It fails only with highly conservative customers.

“May I know which solution you rely on currently managing coccidiosis in your farm? Are you satisfied with the results throughout the cycle? Do you use a potent anti-cholestridian agent to support your gut health and close doors for coccidia? And what about achieved FCR? I am here today to talk about the breakthrough gut integrity concept. Coccivac® -B coccidiosis vaccine for broilers’ operations and Entamycin® F-40 the unprecedented anti-cholestridian feed additive“
N.B. Coccivac-B and Enramycin are registered brand names for Schering Plough Animal Health. This claim is an example that is unnecessarily related to SPAH promotional claims

3. Problem-Solution Approach
–Full analysis of customer needs based on pre-call analysis. Then you move to the message detailing how your product serve customer needs.
–Need to be very sure about the feedback you have. In case these information are confidential in nature, the customer might get provoked.
–Strongly convincing and fits will with hesitant customer.

“Considering that vv Newcastle disease is endemic in our region and knowing that we had several outbreaks of IBD infection in this production unit leading to excessive losses. I am here today to introduce the golden shield from Merial Animal Health against both diseases, employing our unique products Gumbopest®, Avinew® together with Gallivac®-IBD to give maximal protection against the two major economically devastating poultry diseases“
N.B. Gumbopest, Avinew and Gallivac-IBD are registered brand names for Merial Animal Health. This claim is an example that is unnecessarily related to Merial promotional claims

4. Consultative Selling Approach
–Give the customers’ the upper hand in the call through consulting him about the proper problem solution.
–Use directive comments to turn the customer toward the related solution presented in your product.

“May I ask doctor how you perceive the importance of Avian Pneumovirus to poultry operations in Egypt? So the impact of hidden economic losses is not limited to layers and breeders operations, but extended to broilers too. Right? I am glad hearing this from such a pioneer in poultry diseases. This encourage me to present Nemovac® and Ovo-4 the integral solution to APV losses from Merial“
N.B. Nemovac® and Ovo-4 are registered brand names for Merial Animal Health. This claim is an example that is unnecessarily related to Merial promotional claims

5. Relationship-Based Approach
–Capitalizes on long history of cooperation
–Summarizing the credible products/ services previously offered
–Linking previous success to current product

“Sir, do you agree with me that Alltech Biotechnology solutions has enriched animal health operations over the last 5 years with best-in-breed nutritional solutions, leading names in animal nutrition like Bio-Mos®, Eggshell® and MTB-100® were the result of Alltech dedication to nutritional biotech research. Now I am introducing Sel-Plex®, the unique organic selenium gift from Alltech to all species, the 1st and only approved organic selenium from FDA and EU, uniquely produced from Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-3060 yeast strain“
N.B. Sel-Plex is a registered brand name for Alltech Animal Health. This claim is an example that is unnecessarily related to Alltech promotional claim

6. Survey/ Study Approach
–Highly fitting for scientific related products.
–Better to contain a figure that raises attention. Yet, avoids areas of known controversy.
–Risky approach if the customer is adopting an opposing point of view that is supported by documents as well. This will lead to unwanted reaction to the approach and interrupt the call


“Knowing that equine colic is one of the most dangerous and costly equine medical problems, estimated to occur in 1 of every 10 horses annually, and the number one killer of horses world-wide, we need to manage it with an all in one medication sorting out the different elements of the problem. Here the role of Buscapina Compositum as the leading anti-spasmodic analgesic comes very vital“ N.B. Buscapina is registered brand for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. Example given here does not essentially represent a promotional claim of Boehringer Ingelheim

Why to Probe?

Probing is a helpful tool for;

  • Feeling exploration: Testing your customer’s general preliminary feeling about the related subject and problem. It is a feeling because commonly it is not a fixed belief, it is only a gut reaction to certain matter.
  • Outcome exploration: Trying to figure out how he will react to your value proposition and adapt it accordingly.
  • Capabilities exploration: Testing customer means, and understanding his decision making capability, financial capability …etc.
  • Unwanted areas exploration: Exploring the breakers or “off factors” of the customer to avoid it. Or rephrase your wording to mask it and decrease its impact.
  • Style exploration: Everyone of us has his own buying style, based on our social, educational, economic and behavioral factors. Try to explore as much as possible from your customer talks what can make him eager to buy your offer.

Always remember to FOCUS before you deliver your message

Types of Probing Questions

1. Open Ended: Open-ended questions gives more qualitative data, and also tend to be more objective and less leading than closed-ended questions. Typically begin with words such as: How ……………….. ? What ………..…….. ? Where …………….. ? and Who ………….…….? Or statements like: Would you please tell me about …? and How do you feel/think about ……. ?

2. Closed ended: Closed-ended questions usually gives more quantitative. Yet it is a more leading type of a question. Usually when it is verbal it starts with words like: Is ……………………? Did ……………..…. ?

When we consider written research, closed ended questions take mainly 5 forms,

  • MCQ
  • ordinal
  • categorical
  • numerical
  • Likert scaling type.

Top 30 Open-ended Questions

  1. What prompted your esteemed feed manufacturing facility to consider adding value to your feed through anti-cholestridian or anti-coccidian feed additive?
  2. What are your expectations from the successful anti-coccidial feed additive program?
  3. What process do you go through to determine your quarterly needs of intermediate gumboro vaccines ?
  4. How do you think about the impact of AI crisis on the poultry industry in Egypt and Middle East?
  5. What FCR are you looking to reach using our new enzymes feed additive?
  6. Which vaccination program you used for ND in the past and gave you reliable results ?
  7. Which vaccination program you used for ND in the past and had problems with ?
  8. Can you help me understand your problem a little better?
  9. What does that mean?
  10. How do you protect your flocks against HPAI now?
  11. What challenges does that program create now ?
  12. What challenges has that program created in the past?
  13. What are the best things about that program?
  14. What other items should we discuss about the matter ?
  15. What do you see as the next action steps?
  16. What other data points should you know before moving forward with our vaccine?
  17. What is your timeline for purchasing our new enzymes regularly?
  18. What budget has been established for the coccidia control in your project?
  19. What are your thoughts about enhancing your biosecurity measures?
  20. Who else is involved in this decision?
  21. What could make this no longer a priority?
  22. What's changed since we last talked?
  23. What concerns do you have about our technical support?
  24. How did you get involved in the last event of X company, how do you assess its success ?
  25. What kind of challenges are you facing in performance now?
  26. What’s the most important priority in selecting your hatchery incubation system?
  27. What other specifications are important to you?
  28. What would you like to see improved in your hatchery operation?
  29. How do you measure that?
  30. How can we help reaching this?

Effective Listening

  1. Show High Interest: Showing good interest In whatever your customer says will cost you only some patience, but surely your patience will payback through the positive external esteem you gave to your customer listening to him
  2. Never Overreact: Overdoing with your facial expressions or comments trying to give impression of effective listening sometimes will turn negative when the customer will perceive as mocking him, or at least he will feel you are not natural and this will irritate him. Remember, a good actor should never act.
  3. Don't Interrupt: Under any circumstances and for whatever reason. Interrupting a person is highly provocative to him. This creates a hostility towards you and subsequently against your product
  4. Don't Lead: You can sometimes ask a leading question for a definite purpose. Yet, once the customer starts to answer or talk, do not try to lead him through short comments or completing his statement, sometimes it provokes to an extent of going the opposite way only to tease you back.
  5. Don't Loose Attention: Loosing attention will give impression of being careless about what he says. This is overtly insulting to your customer. Give your maximal intention and follow-up, and if it happened and you lost attention, never ask him to repeat or tell him that you were away for a moment, try to catch the clue from the rest of his talk.

Copyrights© 2006. Eyad Harfoush


كلاكيت تانى وتانى said...

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كلاكيت تانى وتانى said...

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Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Klaket,

Thank you for the first comments on my new blog. I agree with you it is rather new and needs a lot of modifications. To market a blog I am not sure I can do this properly :)

Thanks and best regards: