The S.A.S.C.O. selling approach

How to use the SASCO selling method

S.A.S.C.O. selling uses a step by step sales approach to identify the following with the prospect:

SASCO selling method

The effective use of questions to achieve needs identification and needs satisfaction is the single greatest challenge facing us as salespeople. The types of questions asked, the timing of those questions, and how to pose them greatly impacts your ability to create customer value. Questions span the entire sales process, and today they are the tools you must use to gather information, probe, confirm and persuade.

The S.A.S.C.O. selling approach is a sequence of questioning that will uncover rich detailed information about your prospect, their business, concerns and issues about their situation, which you can capitalise on utilising your USP and your competitive advantage. The S.A.S.C.O. selling approach commences of course, once you have created some rapport with prospect and ‘”broken the ice” so to speak!

Also you would have done your research on the prospect's business prior to the S.A.S.C.O. selling approach to avoid looking foolish by asking such questions as;

  • What is it that you produce?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What markets do you operate in?

Hello? We have the internet and research that we should have done before we meet the prospect, so we are well versed in terms of their market (trends, gaps and opportunities) and a good background understanding of what they do (what they produce, sell and offer) and how (methods they use to get to the market) and who (their customers) they do it to!

So we begin the S.A.S.C.O selling process...

  • (S) – Situation questions – which uncover and establish circumstance, setting, conditions, experience, backdrop.
  • (A) – Awareness questions – which uncover and establish concerns, current problems, underlying or latent problems.
  • (S) – Solution questions – which uncover and establish the impact (on the business) of what is (or is not) happening as a result of the responses to the issue questions.
  • (C) – Commitment questions – which uncover and establish the prospects needs and resolution to their issues, difficulties and problems by clearly offering the solution(s) that meets the prospect’s needs.
  • (O) – Ongoing commitment – this is where we ensure that opportunity to do business with the prospect (now a client) exists in the foreseeable future. A big part of this is ongoing contact with the client to make sure that the door is slammed shut firmly in the face of any competitors that may be sniffing around.

Background Questions - in Detail

Using Background questions we begin the process of uncovering what is currently happening in the prospect’s business and the external marketing environment. Here we are asking situation type questions, and these might be generic across some prospects that are in the same industry for example. You would need maybe no more than say, four, or five of these questions to start the ball rolling. These also might be known as needs discovery type questions.

Typical background questions might be …

1.    “Tell me about the new challenges you are facing with data storage?”
(Information Technology (IT) based Prospect).

2.    “What are the kinds of meetings and conventions that you plan for your clients?”
(Hotel Convention Services based Prospect)

3.    “What style of home furnishings you prefer?”
(Retail Home Furnishings based Prospect)

4.    “What is your current rate of employee turnover?”
(Call Centre Operations/HR based Prospect)

You will notice that all of these questions where “Open” type questions. Open type questions typically begin with;

Why, When, What, How, Who, Tell Me …

Responses to these types of questions give us rich detailed information about the prospect and their business, and are the starting point in the S.A.S.C.O. selling process. Open questions are the types of questions that we should use in the background questioning stage of S.A.S.C.O.

After carefully listening and making the necessary notes from the responses that we get from the background questions we can then frame our next round of questions.

These are issue type questions …

Issue Questions - in Detail

Using issue questions we begin the process of exploring some of the issues that have either come directly from the responses to the background questions, or issues that we can see developing from these questions.

This step is one of the most important steps in the S.A.S.C.O. selling process, because unless the prospect eludes to a particular problem area, you will have to ask issue questions that focus the prospect on a problem (or potential problem) that you have identified during the discussion.

There is skill to this step, and over time you will develop your skill in this area. This step sets the tone for the remainder of the sales presentation. When I talk about issues or problems, I am not talking about disasters or mission critical issues (although if these exist it may make the selling process a little easier).

Offering your solution

Here I am referring to identifying where there could be a need for your products or services as a result of your good work so far. This need could be clearly identified by you from the responses to the background questions, and is not yet maybe identified by the prospect. Or there could be a comment from the prospect (at the end of a response to the background questions) like … “and I have to say that we don’t do this particularly well either”, this would be a clear potential problem area for you to explore more with your issue line of questioning.

Basically what we are doing at this point is now asking questions to “flush” out issues and problems to develop a need for our products and services. If all prospects only bought because of their own identified need there would not be much selling going on, over and above what the prospect required right now.

Our role as business owners (and ultimately sales people) is to develop that need through a carefully planned sales process and line of questioning – S.A.S.C.O.

From here we can develop the solutions to these issues that meets the prospects needs in a careful and well thought out manner. Be mindful if you do this then and there right in front of the prospect, as you may need time to get your thoughts together and carefully produce a solution based on all the information gems you have gathered at this meeting. Suggest to the prospect that you get back to them in 24-hours with your proposal (which is your solution to their issues) this then gives you the time to craft a really good offering.

Once you are successful (and yes you will get knock-backs) make sure that the door is always open for future business (for cross selling and up selling). Also make sure that you stay in contact with your clients, as you are most vulnerable after a period of time of no contact, this is when the competitors are circling above reading to jump right in right where you left off!

See also how to understand your prospect's communication style.


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John Duffield

I am a Creative Information Marketer first and foremost, providing businesses with tips, ideas and resources to help them grow their business. I create many tools, Apps and digital products which are used by over 1,000 business all over the world. I enjoy creating resources for business that are ultimately used as part of their ongoing metrics.