Breaking Down Your Stroke

Breaking Down Your Stroke

This tip focuses on using a diagnostic probe, which is the first step in the Need Diagnostic. If you’re not familiar with this resource, I encourage you to download it from the Toolbox as a reference, or review this tip which provides examples of how to use an Open Diagnostic Probe.

The rule: If there is no need, do not proceed


To provide a solution that exactly fits the buyer’s needs we must understand the buyer’s needs exactly.

Extensive review of software and SaaS sales calls proves almost all buyers have a need, or they would not be on the call.

Asking the buyer’s goals for the call ensures immediate buyer engagement. The cognitive challenge of stating their goals begins the process of active buyer participation, versus passive and often partial attention.

This exercise establishes an engaged relationship with the buyer.

When to use the Open Diagnostic Probe

The open diagnostic probe is the first question in the Need Diagnostic, which is used if a buyer has not expressed a need.

Because most buyers DO express a need, the open probe is typically not used, as it distracts from what the buyer has already said.

Instead of probing, follow the buyer’s thought as long as it is productive. You might help the conversation along by asking, “Is there more you think I should understand?”

The open probe might also be used later in a discovery call when a buyer is not expressing a need the seller can address. Asking probing questions can help you refocus the conversation on a need you can address.

Overtly state your goal and the mutual benefit of it

“I am asking about a specific thing that [caught your attention in those conversations] to get a sense of the need. Like a doctor asking where it hurts or a personal trainer asking someone’s goal. I do that because everyone’s goals are so diverse and I try to shape the presentation to address something you are trying to accomplish versus a generic information dump. It directs our conversation to something useful to us both and saves us both time if it’s not a fit. If I showed you something that might be of value, what would it be?”


Starting with diagnosis is in the best interest of the buyer and the seller because it is the most accurate and efficient way to determine the fit, or lack thereof, between the buyer’s need(s) and the seller’s solution(s). In order to diagnose, need must be understood.

Take advantage of the free resources in Steve’s Coaching Toolbox.