First Diagnose, Then Prescribe – by Andy Small

How many times have you heard the sage piece of advice “First Diagnose, Then Prescribe” in your sales career? My guess is many times over.

If you are like me and many other sales professionals, regardless of your generation and industry, you have used your relationships, product knowledge, skills and charm and have done very well. But now something has happened and your sales results have hit a plateau for a variety of reasons.

Sound familiar?

Imagine going to the doctor. You walk in, pay your co-payment, sit and wait. Then your big moment comes and the nurse calls your name and you are ushered through the door that many others have entered while you were waiting.

The nurse’s next step is to weigh you (yuk), and check your blood pressure. Then you are escorted to a room for an additional waiting period.

Finally, the Doctor enters the room with a warm smile and her stethoscope around her neck. She sits down, looks at you, checks your heart, asks you to stick out your tongue and say ahhhh. THEN reaches for her script pad and fills out a script, states that any pharmacy will fill this out, and to call her if you do not feel better within the next 24 hours, then quietly leaves the room.

Question: How would you feel? Would you take this script to the pharmacy?

In reality, you probably would experience a kaleidoscope of emotions and would not, in all likelihood, execute this prescription.

Why? It’s simple. The Doctor never asked you any questions about how you feel, where it hurts, how long you have had these symptoms…nothing. She has no idea how you feel, or what questions that you may have.

Let’s apply this to our craft of professional selling:

In coming up with a solid diagnosis and positioning you for a consultative discussion, a few questions are in order. I have found these three to be very effective when working with an initial prospect.

  • What are your requirements and expectations in making this type of purchase?
  • What is your preferred buying process?
  • What are some real issues that you deal with on a daily basis?

When you ask these questions, I bet your prospect will open up and tell you what is really important to him in choosing a supplier and the specific product that you have to offer. Taking this into consideration and giving it careful thought, you are now in a position to prescribe a viable solution.

To your success,



Andy Small’s mission is “To teach and train for positive growth.”

He’s a prolific trainer with an extensive background of sales experience that includes two Fortune 500 companies and other large and small sales teams. Andy understands your desire to discover your unique value and to acquire the skills necessary to compete in today’s market so you can reach your full selling potential.

You can connect with Andy at