Needs Discovery: Professionally Sell Yourself

Chelsea Shettler, Prevish Marketing


Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 10.08.15 AM“There will always be a time in your career where you need selling skills,” my professor remarked at the beginning of the semester last August. The Leeds School of Business is one of 50 or so business schools across the country that added a “Professional Selling” course to their marketing degree roster. I was one of a lucky few that got to experience this kind of class for the first time.


Professional selling has a very different approach when it comes to conveying value to the consumer. I may not have known it at the time, but I could see what my professor meant by how valuable selling skills were when it came to your professional career. I found one such textbook framework particularly helpful when it came to achieving your selling goal. In professional selling, we call this the “Discovery Process”, a time in which you meet with your customer and through a series of problem-solving questions; you “discover” what the solution is to the customer’s issue. This “GOALS” framework, with examples, is outlined below, using an example of advancing your career:


  • G: General Questions. A problem could be a goal that you or your company is trying to achieve. The key to general questions is to talk out your current situation. Explaining or mapping a process helps you discover holes that you might want to tackle. Even when tackling your own personal career agenda, talking yourself through where you are and where you want to be can help you understand the critical next steps.


  • O: Obstacles, Outlays, and Opportunities. Once you have mapped out your current situation, you play out a scenario where if you changed a defective part, what obstacles would you have to jump over in order to do this? In relation to your own personal opportunities, what obstacles are standing in the way of you taking on new projects, joining a different department, or going down a different career path? What other opportunities are out there for you to overcome these obstacles, and achieve your goals? Do you need to learn or improve a skill to earn the position you desire?


  • A: Achievements. After defining your obstacles, opportunities, and outlays you outline some achievements you want to accomplish by fixing these issues. Would you like to see more efficient results in your work process? Could your own investment aid in your personal or career life? How much time/money/stress could you be saving if you utilized product “x” or process “y” to reach your goal, such as signing up for a new course or certification?


  • L: Leverage. Leverage talking points are generally used to discover characteristics about a situation that helps you or your audience to see things differently. For example, you are trying to sell yourself to a new company in an interview. Talking through a common industry problem and how successfully you handled such an issue in the past is a great way to show your new employer how much you could be worth to the company. This is how you can relate a solution back to the real world. After all, we don’t consider most things as problem, or even opportunities, until they happen to us.


  • S: Summary. At the end of the GOALS discovery process, you want to sum up all that you have learned about a situation, the issues facing you, and the direction you want to go in order to solve the problem at hand. This really only becomes necessary when you are discussing problems with another co-worker or potential customer, because a summary statement should aim to “gain agreement” between two or more parties. The most important takeaway is that you have a “goal” in mind and you are ready to handle it through your previously outlined steps.


After going through the GOALS framework, one might see how this all directly applies to sales or marketing jobs, but don’t limit such usefulness to one area of life. Throughout your life you will need to sell an idea, a promise, or even a personal value such ranging in morality and ethics. Value is created when an issue is resolved; so let the GOALS framework guide your future decisions to creating a more productive, efficient and meaningful life.




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