Customer issues are problems, attitudes, misconceptions or other factors that can stall the sale. For a business strategy of lower costs through strategic sourcing, a potential issue might be a lack of inter-enterprise integration restricting information visibility.

Generally customers won’t make a decision until they have resolved all their issues. Helping the customer to resolve issues – either by solving problems, minimizing the impact of the issues or getting them to ignore them – is a critical part of the salesperson’s job.

As you uncover and resolve customer problems, it is very easy to get sucked into the political issues that drive the emotional sale. You may think you are building value by solving a technology issue only to find out that the resolution of the problem causes embarrassment to someone else. Pay attention to the decision-making process and roles as you resolve issues so you can optimize everyone’s perception of the value of your solution.

The more your customer trusts you, the more issues you will uncover. Experienced salespeople are delighted when customers start to share their problems, because it gives them an opportunity to show how their solution can solve them. Since issues are barriers to the successful implementation of the business strategy, removing them creates a lot of value.

To uncover your customers’ issues ask them the following questions:
• What are your concerns around the implementation of business strategy “X”?
• Does your current technology infrastructure support the business requirements for the new strategy?
• What are the business requirements for the strategy? ROI expectations? Time to market? Improved productivity?
• Will you need to change your current business processes to implement the new strategy?
• What are your executives’ expectations for the scope and timing of implementing the solution?