Sales Discovery Questions for Value

If your mindset moves along the Service Dominant Logic thinking path that value is co-created through use, we can view value from three points; Functional, Social, Emotional.

  1. Functional (Know): This is the practical side where we help solve problems, resolve issues, get projects done and accomplish tasks.
  2. Emotional (Feel): We make people feel better and find ways to support, energize and empower
  3. Social (Do): We help people find new meaning, new information and re-frame their situation (

We are all good at addressing the functional side of the equation we are train asking open-ended questions to discover a customers pains or the gains we may achieve by adding our new functionality to their process.  From the work of Bernard Mayer, The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide (he has newer books), he uses a model called The Dimensions of Conflict  that allows a practitioner to address these components in trying to solve a conflict. I am not advocate of considering the sales process a conflict but what Mayer does it illustrate some remarkable similarity between conflict resolution and the sales process. More importantly, in the book  Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, author Daniel Siegel takes this model a step further.

Using the three components of value (Know Feel, and Do) and translating them to Cognitive,  Emotional and Behavioral dimensions the model forms these questions.

Cognitive Dimension (Functional, Know):

  • How do the parties perceive or think about this conflict?
  • What data are they focusing on? What are their conclusions about this data?
  • What assumptions have they made and why?
  • What is the tone and theme of the stories they tell about this conflict?
  • How do they define this conflict?
  • What motives have they attributed to the other party’? What data is there that contradicts this perception? How do they explain the contradictions?
  • How are these perceptions affecting the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the other parties?
  • What would change each party’s view of the problem?

Emotional Dimension (Emotional, Feel):

  • What are they feeling about the conflict?
  • What is the depth of the feelings? How much venting is taking place or needed? How are they dealing with these feelings?
  • How significant a barrier to resolution will these feelings be?
  • What are the emotional "triggers" in place between the parties?
  • What does this person need in order to release or let these feelings go?
  • How are these feelings affecting the feelings, perceptions, and behaviors of the other parties?
  • What would change how everyone felt about the problem?

Behavioral Dimension (Social, Do):

  • What actions has each party taken to try to deal with the conflict?
  • What behaviors are escalating the conflict?
  • What behaviors are de-escalating the conflict?
  • What behavioral "triggers" are in place between the parties?
  • What is the risk of aggression or violence?
  • What is the risk of withdrawal and avoidance?
  • How are these behaviors affecting the actions, feelings, and perceptions of the other parties?
  • What would change how everyone was behaving?

A few of the questions may be not quite appropriate, but I have seldom seen a better list for addressing the three components of value than this. If you remove the word conflict and use a form of value in its place, it is just about a perfect cheat sheet for a salesperson to use in discovery. Your thoughts?

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