Med One Blog

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Say Yes

By Ibby Smith Stofer

Using the "5 Why's Tool" to identify how you can help your customer say "YES"!

If any of you have the joyful and sometimes trying experience of having children or grandchildren, then I am sure the thought of even hearing the word 'Why' one time-let alone 5 times-is enough to make you want to scream.

But the "5 Why's" make a truly valuable tool to both sales and customer satisfaction. Years ago, we used this technique as a transition tool for our feature benefit-oriented sales team.

We were so used to getting into those features and benefits and spewing forth our vast knowledge of the technical features and advantages that we rarely paused long enough to catch our breath. And the customer was more than willing to listen most of the time. But listening to our "corporate speak" did not always motivate the customer to buy.

We did not abandon the features, benefits or advantages, but we challenged ourselves to ask, "Why is this feature, benefit or competitive advantage of value to our customers?"

Here is an example. Let's say you work for a company that sells monitors to hospitals and you are introducing one or two new features, including a larger color screen and ability to select the language that the screen displays.

Cool features right? Of course, customers love "new and better" but the Why was still unclear-and certainly would rarely motivate a senior financial person to spend money before it was needed. They operate on depreciation schedules and consider useful life a key to upgrades and replacement, and they may not be too keen on another purchase of the same basic technology.

So how do you identify what will make a difference for both your customer and yourself? Start asking Why and keep doing it until you know the reason the customer should upgrade. Taking our monitor scenario through the Why's might go something like this:

Why a larger screen?
  1. Clutter at the bedside makes viewing difficult
  2. As clinicians age, their eyes also age
  3. Patients do not want to be continually awakened by the many comings and goings of checking the screen at the bedside.
Why a color screen?
  1. Studies show that using color to accentuate allows faster response to critical messages
  2. Color viewing is easier to view at night
Why have language selection capability?
  1. Nursing shortages can mean that the staff has differing primary languages.
  2. This can affect how they interpret messages
  3. It can also affect the accuracy of any programming
  4. Patients can be at added risk if primary language and machine languages are different.
Medical Doctor Saying Yes

Why should they replace equipment that still has remaining useful life? All of the above responses to the Why questions address patient and clinician satisfaction. The continual software and systems integrations may require added computer power, so updating now will allow you to access it when introduced.

By utilizing the Why technique the sales organization has identified real issues that the customers are facing. It has allowed them to ask questions around those points. This technique will generate a more robust discussion and improve the odds of a successful sale and satisfied customer.

You will note that I did not ask 'Why' five times for each area, nor did I create five categories. There is no set number of questions or categories, which makes this a flexible tool. If you want to move away from feature benefit discussions and instead provide consultative answers, asking and answering the Why questions in advance of the customer gives you that ability. You are now thinking in their mind set, identifying their issues and objections, and are willing to offer them answers.

Good luck, and remember to think like your customer. You can add value to both your customers' and your sales careers. Ask and answer the 'Why' they need your product or service to bring good discussions to greatness.