There are a hundred problems you could solve for your sales team, but some are certainly more pressing than others. The last thing you want is to spend a pile of cash on technology nobody uses. To ensure you create an app your sales reps actually use, you need to figure out what problems they’re having in the field, how they’re solving them today, and which problems are the highest priority.

Don’t use surveys (quantitative research) yet!! You’ll want to do some qualititative research (one-on-one conversations) before you jump in and start getting all quantitative.

What types of questions might you ask?

The key to this exercise is active listening with a focus on uncovering problems rather than spouting out potential solutions. Sales reps are better critics than creators, because they don’t have time to waste dreaming up ideas for apps– that’s marketing’s job! At first, you’ll want to ask open-ended questions and see where things go. As you pick up on more specific problem areas, you can hone in and ask pointed questions to solicit more detail. Keep in mind, your main objective is to pick up on trends, and this takes time; don’t expect your sales reps to notice them or to ask for a great solution on their own. It’s your job (and ours) to interview enough of your sales team to spot the elusive obvious and create a killer sales tool.

Here are some starter questions:

Where are the biggest bottlenecks right now?
You’ll want to get a feel for whether your biggest challenges are efficiency or effectiveness.

Where are you getting stuck in the sales cycle?
Almost every sales rep will answer this the same… they will say they need more leads, better leads or both. You will want to read between the lines when asking this type of question.

What are some things you do to add value and get your foot in the door?

You’ll want to leave with the top three problems and areas to explore, and then you’ll want to formulate a summary of the problems that you’ve heard across the board and validate that these are indeed big problems for the rest of the team, and that you’ve listened correctly. You’ll want to ask, are there any problems that are bigger than the ones I’ve got listed here?

This will be an ongoing, collaborative exercise; make sure to have more than one session to account for someone having a bad day or dealing with a particularly tricky customer.