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We waste too much time worrying about and trying to fast forward to proposing a solution. Proposing the solution, like closing, should be very natural and very easy–if you have done well leading up to that point.

The real action in the sales process–and the buying process, for that matter–is in the diagnosis.

Where Trust Resides

The ability to build trust resides in the discovery process. Your ability to prove that you care is demonstrated in the discovery process through your ability to listen. This means really listening, not asking questions just to try to drive your dream client to an advance.

Your ability to demonstrate that you can be trusted is also found in your ability to bring your situational knowledge and your business acumen to the conversation you have around your dream client’s problems, challenges, and opportunities.

This trust isn’t built through the statements you make about you and your service. It’s demonstrated through your ability to know the right questions to ask, the questions that help your dream client to get to the heart of the matter.

Where Consensus Resides

The ability to build consensus is found in the discovery process. You don’t build consensus at the boardroom table, and you don’t build consensus the first time you meet your dream client’s stakeholders and buying committee members.

You build consensus during the diagnosis and needs analysis meetings where you have the chance to ask the questions about needs, about potential solutions, and about constraints. You build the consensus by actively engaging your dream client in the process of helping to design a solution.

Where the Shared Vision Is Built

The discovery phase is where the real value in the sales and the buying process is found. This is where the shared vision can be built. You can ask questions, define potential solutions and, most importantly, you can obtain your dream client’s vision of what their future desired state looks like.

Your dream client can and will help you to create the shared vision of the solution and how they can bridge the gap from their current state to that future state–and what it will take to get there. This is where the buy-in is created.

The ability to create this shared vision is found in the discovery process.

Overlooking the discovery process and the diagnosis is a real mistake. So is giving it too little time and too little focus so that you can move on to solutions. You don’t sell the solution without selling the diagnosis.

This is why excluding stakeholders from the discovery process is so dangerous–you eliminate the ability to build the relationships, you miss the chance to gain their agreement in the consensus, and you exclude them from participating in creating a shared vision of the future.


In what stages of the sales process and the buying process is trust really gained and built?

In what stages of the sales and buying process is consensus around a diagnosis and a solution built?

In what stages of the sales process and buying process is a shared vision of the desired future state and the path to getting there built?

Can all of these objectives be easily achieved in later stages of the sales or buying process?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 13, 2011

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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