The ‘Architect of Needs’ is a powerful business development tool designed to help you formulate the right questions to get to the heart of what your prospect needs. For your services to be of value, there has to be a ‘gap’ for them to fit into. As I’ve written about before, there are both logical and emotional gaps. Identifying and understanding the nature of these gaps is a crucial step in helping your prospect recognise how your services or products might improve business. The solution to this problem of finding the gap through conversation with a prospect is to identify the right questions to ask.
Fortunately, Peter Rosenwald, a founder of Chartered Developments and the man who for many years was responsible for leading the marketing strategy of the company has adopted a process that can help with this: the ‘Architect of Needs’.
The aim of this tool is to take all the experience accrued by seasoned business development partners and managers and to distil it into five simple steps. Starting by helping you summarise your own services, and then by reframing them in the context of what your clients might lack. With this exercise, you will end up with a series of questions that, when posed to your prospective clients, should expose the gaps they have in their own operations and how your services can help them plug these gaps.
The idea is that by following this process you will be in a position of forming a series of questions that have usually only been possible by professionals who have had years of experience honing their skills.
So – what does the tool look like…
It’s a simple sequence, but the exercise of addressing each step involves a critical examination of your services and the psychology of your clients. The results can be revelatory and can reshape the way you present your business to a prospective customer.
Let’s look at these steps in more detail.
- Your Services
Step one involves listing your services and the features of your service. Be forensic about this – the aim is to deconstruct what you offer and to classify it. What you are trying to do with this initial step is to create a grid categorising what you offer in a way that will make the next step in the process a smoother one.
- What do your services mean?
This is a bridging step that will transform what you offer into an advantageous feature. This step involves deep consideration of each of your services in the grid and how they might be a solution to a range of issues. At the moment this is still a thought experiment. The next step will transform them into something more practical and concrete…
- What do these advantages mean in reality?
You have your services and you’ve framed each of them in terms of their potential value. Now it’s time to ask the question ‘so what?’. This step is designed to encourage you to reframe the potential advantages outlined in the previous step as practical, tangible and understandable benefits for businesses. Do they save a company time or money, for example; do they contribute to building the brand or do they help you tap into a new pool of prospective clients?
- What situations will these services benefit
Next direct the focus back to the business. You have a set of tangible advantages that will bring real benefits to a prospective customer – so what issues or situations will the company need to have or be in to take advantage of these? This is the ‘eureka’ moment: making that connection between the qualities of your services and the specific gaps in those offered by the prospect. In essence you are reverse engineering the situation in a way that uses your services as a starting point and the prospect’s needs as the conclusion. All that’s left is to…
- Come up with the questions
Once you have done the preparation, you can start forming the questions that will get to the heart of the issues faced by the prospect. Armed with the information you have gathered by working through the steps of the process outlined above this should be relatively simple, just remember to start with broad questions that allow the prospect to open up and then narrow down the focus with more detailed questions. The idea is to use the questions to ‘funnel down’ to identifiable needs or wants. If there is a specific issue, then your series of questions should reveal it; if not, then you simply start again with a different line of questioning. The result will be the perfect synergy of what you offer with what your prospective customer needs; a relationship that can be built on the confluence between your services and the problems faced by your prospect.
Coming up with the right questions takes preparation and work, but it no longer relies on decades of experience – it is a learned skill. If you want to start the ball rolling on acquiring this skill then get in touch with us for information about how our training can help you.
Make sure to download the Architect of Needs Work Book