Sales Discovery Questions for Value


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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?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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