DECODES: Helps Customer identify precise 'need'​, going beyond what is articulated

DECODES: Helps Customer identify precise 'need'​, going beyond what is articulated

Param glared at his Outlook screen. “Really? And I thought I had made a masterful presentation. All I get is a ‘let’s- see-later’ push over mail. What did I do wrong ?” He read the mail again


Javed N – Head Procurement & Logistics, Anesi Heavy Vehicles Ltd

From: Javed N

Sent: Thursday, July 16, 20XX 12.30 PM

To: Param B

Subject: Offer to supply sub-assemblies

Hi Param,

We would like to thank you for your presentation earlier this week on your company’s capabilities in supplying sub-assemblies to bus manufacturers. We found the presentation informative

At the moment, we are unsure how to fit in your company’s FRP/GRP exterior and interior sub-assemblies into our current manufacturing configuration. Should a specific need arise, we will be glad to revert to you with a request

Best regards


Param dialled Dominic, Head of Sales, Specialty Products for their company, Classic Polymer Composites.

“Hey Dom” said Param “Disaster strikes. Anesi didn’t come through”

“Don’t tell me they knocked you out with a soft punch, Param” said Dom... “Can’t believe it. They seemed interested when we had that joint call with them last month. Let’s go over what happened when you presented to them”

Param told him the story of how everything had seemingly gone fine but ultimately ended in a deferment mail. Dominic said “Looks to me that your need discovery wasn’t quite up to mark. I have a few questions for you. Reflect on them. (1) Did you fully use the information gathering opportunities you had before getting into the presentation mode? (2) Did you check on the use of sub-assemblies in Anesi’s current production line? (3) Did you try to discuss technical needs with production and operations people in Anesi? (4) Did you get some research done on present cost structure of Anesi, its strengths and weaknesses and did you factor those insights in understanding Anesi’s needs more completely? (5) Are you communication lines open with Anesi’s decision makers to maintain rapport ? (6) Have you thought through the next steps to align your proposal to Anesi’s exact needs and put together a revised version that can receive a confirmation from them?”

“And I think you should start using the DAPA selling method that I shared in our annual sales kick-off"

Selling, like all things beautiful, is also simple.

At its heart, selling is just 2 steps:

• Identify and (or) create a need

• Fulfill that need with your product or service for mutual benefit

That’s a classical definition, as it is old yet contemporary. Apply it to any type of selling and it still works. Even in today’s highly digitized world, if you are looking for healthy snack making options online, the e-commerce site searches, sorts and filters product information for you till you decide, yes that griller will be good to have. It then helpfully offers you a cart to add your purchases and gently steers you to a check out. Need is identified and fulfilled, all from the comfort of your favourite couch in the drawing room

This need identification and fulfillment is broken up into 2 further steps in DAPA©, a simple but powerful personal sales process evolved by Mercuri International. So, each of the 4 alphabets in the DAPA© acronym stands for a step in this approach to selling:

You Define the Customer’s requirement for your product or service

Customer Accepts your definition of the requirement

You Prove to the Customer that your product or service can fulfill the requirements

Customer Accepts the proof you’ve provided

Even with a B2B Customer who has done enough online research before reaching out to the salesperson, DAPA© works like a charm. Your need definition in such cases will help refine what the Customer has in mind by supplementing the Customer’s existing knowledge. Once that is accepted, you can prove with your expertise that there are more needs the Customer possibly didn’t identify. That proof accepted, closure becomes a breeze!

Possible solution for the story situation – Param in our story would have done way better in his presentation if he had followed DA from DAPA in identifying Anesi’s need before diving into the presentation (Anchor Practice below)

Anchor Practice: The fatal flaw in selling, recognized world over by sales veterans, is to start off with what you can offer. Or putting the ‘P’ before the ‘DA’ of DAPA. Your pitch should be able to get the Customer to open out first, help the Customer define the situation (DA) and only then tell the Customer what you could do for them by way of real benefits. The DA framework below is of enduring value in getting need identification right in all sales situations:


Bonus Tips for Virtual Sales Activity: (1) Establishing trust early on is a challenge in doing DA virtually. So, build credibility at the very start -voice, confidence, keenness, well organized, brisk, warm – knowledgeable, thank you at the start - empathetic expertise is key. Sound and feel like you are doing an in person meeting. (2) Leverage the digital medium fully and share the collaterals and research citations in real time during the meeting (3) Virtual meetings can be convened at short notice, with little expenditure and as often as needed. So, reassure the Customer that you are available for clarifications and support on the need discovery whenever required by the Customer

Pause to reflect:   "Your pitch should be able to get the Customer to open out first, help the Customer define the situation (DA) and only then tell the Customer what you could do for them by way of real benefits".

Action Question: How can you use DA to better identify Customer needs in upcoming meetings?

Related Readings: Mercuri Insight Document on DAPA the power of Customer driven goal oriented selling 

Takeaway Quote:  “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” - Marcel Proust

About the series:   This is the 83rd in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your Sales Resilience ... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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