Provocative Selling | Provoke Your Prospects

Provocative Selling methodology

Provocative Selling was born from the idea that challenges are opportunities. So, if you’re ready for the challenge, keep reading to learn what Provocative Selling is, why it’s relevant now and how to start applying it to your sales process.

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What is Provocative Selling? |  Provocation-Based Selling Definition

Provocative Selling, also referred to as Provocation-Based Selling, revolves around the concept that prospects are unaware that they have a pressing and urgent problem. To sales professionals, these challenges are in fact opportunities.

Potential customers might be unaware of the dangers their company may face if they don’t fix this problem, but if the sales person can help the prospect become aware of the challenge and provide a solution to overcome it, that’s Provocation-Based Selling.

3 Essential Provocative Selling Steps 

Below are the three essential provocative selling steps any salesperson needs to follow if they want to start honing their Provocation-Based selling approach. 

1. Identify a critical issue

Customers are so overexposed to the age-old sales question, “what keeps you up at night?” that its effectiveness has diminished to near nothing. Instead ask questions that help the provoke the customer to want to find a solution to their problems.

The first step of provocative selling is identifying an issue, challenge or gap so ominous that, even in an unstable, fluctuating downturn, the company will find the money to resolve it. 

2. Formulate your provocation | Jarring the Prospect

In the next step of Provocation Based selling, after you start off by creating a sense of urgency, you know, “You have a big, critical problem”. At this point, you want to remain respectful whilst letting them know that you’ve worked with leading companies in the industry and that you’ve helped them address this painful challenge. In particular, their competitors. 

3. Lodge your provocation | Vital Decision-Makers

The last stage is approaching a decision-maker, ideally, an executive who has the power to approve the solution you’re proposing.

3 Essential Provocative Selling Steps Infographic

Provocative Selling Questions

The sad news is you can’t just come up with provocative questions on the fly. Trust us. It’s impossible because you need to profoundly understand your prospect’s needs, wants and challenges beforehand. Therefore, you need to start by planning them out, and to help you get started, you can use these questions to provoke ideas about what your prospect really needs:

  • How is my customer meeting its needs if it’s not using my product or service? 
  • What are the primary problems, difficulties and concerns prospects likely experience in each of these scenarios? 
  • What are the business implications of these problems? How do they impact productivity, time-to-market, legal issues, profitability, costs, operational efficiency, decision-making and more?
  • What does the customer get if it replaces its current methods, systems or processes with my offering?

How does Provocation-Based Selling Differ From Other Sales Approaches?

If you’re wondering what are the similarities and differences between Provocative Selling and other common sales methodologies, below is a comparison of different sales approaches:

Transactional Selling

Transactional selling is a total hands-off sales strategy that focuses solely on making a quick sale with no prioritising of learning the customer’s actual pain and how their product can solve that pain. This is pretty much the complete opposite of provocation-based selling.

The Challenger Salesperson

Challenger Sales and Provocative Selling have more similarities than differences. The Challenger Sales Rep excels at adopting unique perspectives when it comes to creating solutions for existing problems. They’re a pioneer of pushing the status quo whilst possessing the ability to get potential customers excited about these new possibilities. Simultaneously, the Challenger Sales Rep can promote their products as the ideal innovative solutions to these problems. Challenger Sales and Provocative Selling have many similarities in that they both set out to educate the customer.

Insight Selling vs Provocative Selling

Insight Selling and Provocative Selling are ‘two sides of the same coin’. They’re slightly different takes on the same technique which involves asking questions to uncover problems the prospect needs to address to help their business. The solution, is of course your product or service.

Solution Selling

Solution Selling is a sales approach that came along to replace old ‘Product Selling’ practices. It’s a sales process that focuses on selling the solution to the prospect’s problem. Whilst both approaches set out to solve the prospect’s problem, Provocation-Based Selling ultimately focuses on pointing out the problem first.

Consultative selling

Consultative selling is a type of sales approach that prioritises an investigative process. Thereby, instead of simply telling prospects what they need, you ask prospects thought-provoking questions that help them identify their pain points. The similarities between Consultative Selling and Provocative Selling is that both use questions to uncover problems.

Summary of Comparison 

It’s fair to say that Provocation-Based Selling seems like a modern revision of solution selling. However, the real difference is that while in solution selling, sure your prospect is aware of the problem, have the budget to solve it – but the prospect’s not entirely sure they should ask you to solve it. In provocative selling, you’re uncovering a problem, provoking a response and then positioning yourself as the ideal solution provider. 

SOCO Sales Training’s Take on Provocation-Based Selling

Whilst highlighting key issues that prospects have overlooked and sharing how you can help them to solve it, is a great way to generate interest in your product or service, sales reps at the same time need to make sure they don’t come across as insincere and self-serving. It’s a skill, and when combined properly can be very a very affective approach.

If you need help getting your sales team the skills they need to provoke their customers, book an appointment with one of our program advisors who will be happy to discuss Provocation-Based sales training in more detail with you.

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