Adapted from Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, By Dan & Chip Heath.

"A problem may look hopelessly complex. But there's a game plan that can yield movement on even the toughest issues. And it starts with locating a bright spot -- a ray of hope."

Imagine being bombarded all day long with questions that create or build "pain" and "drill down" on problems we have. That emphasis on problems can get very wearying and reduce productivity and creative thinking for both a customer and a sales professional. Too often sales efforts and solutions appear to be all about problems and pain, when in fact, that is only a part of a customer's dilemma. Additionally, if all we end up doing is focusing on making problem go away, we cede the future to the dismal prospect of waiting for more problems to descend upon us, eroding our outlook for a future of success. Problems are certainly a reality in the business world, but they are not the only motivation to action for a customer.

Now imagine a conversation conducted by a sales professional that begins with the identification and development of where we would like to be, what success would look like, and what is the ideal we are trying to achieve? That kind of visualization is far more pleasant, sustainable and inviting to a customer and it opens a path toward future hope.

That small but very significant difference from most other sales methodologies taught is a critical point of view because it suggests that the initial focus of a diagnostic conversation with our customer is on a positive, desired outcome, what could be versus what is. Ideally, both figuratively and literally, a customer is motivated to move toward something as much as they are to move away from something and an effective sales professional can employ both art and science in guiding that understanding of the desired outcome with a customer.

The Exploratory Process of the Positional Selling system is based on a questioning strategy used to identify and develop the area of opportunity with customers. It relies on a visual model that depicts a GAP between where a customer would like to be and where a customer is. The key data-gathering questions in the Exploratory Process are 1) the Focusing Question to establish what results a customer would consider to be IDEAL and 2) The Realization Question to establish the current or actual performance a customer is experiencing.

Though we may eventually arrive at a realization that something is out of harmony or incomplete, we get there by focusing on desired results and provide a ray of hope as bright as our sun!--As part of our ongoing commitment to professional development, Carew International publishes a regular blog to provide timely insights for optimal sales performance. To learn more about Carew's incomparable sales training programs, sales leadership training and customer service training, visit our website at