When doing a root cause analysis, the “5 Whys” technique is essential. You ask “why” five times to go beyond surface-level answers and find the root cause of a problem, similar to peeling an onion. This is an important skill for modern selling.
B2B buying research confirms that buyers want to work with salespeople who:
- Understand them and their business
- Turn data into actionable insights
- Act as problem solvers
- Connect the dots between the challenges to resolve and how the rep’s solutions do it
I’m not suggesting that you repeatedly ask why, without variation. I’m suggesting that modern sales pros learn to “peel back the layers of the onion” to uncover a buyer’s root problem.
Example of Modern Selling and “Onion Peeling”
Seller: I read about the difficulties with your new XYZ line, but it only mentioned lower output. What happened there?
Buyer: We had higher scrap rates than we expected, producing this new, highly complex part.
Seller: How high was it, compared to what you expected?
Buyer: We projected four percent for the initial runs, which is typical for similar parts. This is a very complex piece, but we felt we could do it. The actual rate was 11 percent, which is unacceptable.
Note: many reps stop here, noting the gap between four and 11 percent. Keep going for sweet success!
Seller: And what does that translate to, in dollars and cents?
Buyer: Each scrapped piece is roughly $120.
Seller: How many do you produce in a run?
Buyer: We did 10,000 initially until we realized the scrap rate was so high, but our first order is for 100,000 units.
Seller: [Calculating] So, the difference in scrap rates cost you $84,000 on the 10K run, and would be $840,000 on the 100K units, is that right?
Buyer: That’s about right. And now, we’re under the gun to get this fixed, fast.