It’s Called “T.N.A.”

In my work I do a lot of Training Needs Assessment, known as TNA.  (Be sure to enunciate clearly as your client may hear “T&A” and wonder what you’re up to.)  So today I’ll give you the second problem-solving model I promised you last week, which places more emphasis on human performance issues, rather than on the organization. The model is adapted from Alison Rosset’s fine book, “Training Needs Assessment.”

In order to understand your client’s problems and gain buy-in to your solutions, you must help lead the prospect through self-discovery.  The model that follows works with almost any area where your client may be experiencing a problem.  This is why it is useful at some point during your meeting to ask your client what the biggest problems or obstacles are right now.

1.   Optimals:  Ask your client to describe optimal behavior.  What does the situation look like in a perfect world.  Example:  “What would have to happen for your division to meet all its sales goals?”

2.   Actuals:  Ask what is going on now, the actual behavior.  Example:  “How does that scenario contrast with what is happening now?  What are you seeing?”

3.   Causes:  Ask what is causing the gap between optimal and actual.  Example:  “So as you see it, not all the desirable prospects are getting called on, and you aren’t sure how the calls are going. What do you think is the cause of this?”

4.   Feelings:  Ask about how the key stakeholders feel about the present situation.  Remember that feelings questions are generally high-value.  Example:  “So how do you feel about this situation?”  Or, “How do you think the sales team feels when they don’t meet quotas?” Even better, “How does your boss feel about this?”

5.   Solutions:  Ask the prospect what he or she thinks the solution is.  This is a strong use of self-discovery, as in this example:  “Well, certainly something needs to be done about this. What do you think the answer is?”  You may be surprised to find your client will say, “We need better access to information about services and choices or some faster process.”  What would you say to that?

I use this model when I meet a prospect for the first time and ask, “What’s keeping you up at night?”  By the time I get to the last question, I often have a solution, and what is more, the prospect has articulated it, so there is more commitment about what to do next.  Try it.  You’ll sound like a genius, and your client will appreciate that you know how to …

Think Like Your Customer

Hey, I just sent out my latest e-newsletter, and it was a good one!  Or so people tell me.  If you would like to get on my distribution list, email me using the contact info above and give me your email address.  I’ll add you to the list and send you yesterday’s issue.  Thanks.  Gregory

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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