Stop selling your product.  The product training you’ve had is bad. Who cares what you sell, or how good you or your company thinks it is.

Instead, I want you to focus 100% on selling the outcomes you allow your customer to achieve.  That’s what your customer is looking for, they don’t need another widget, they need a solution.

In my book A Mind for Sales I talk extensively about this, and be sure to watch the video clip below from my sales kickoff keynote.

Focusing on your customer is about listening first to create a level of trust and confidence. 

Your customer is never going to confide in you until they first trust you.  Building trust begins with you by not putting your objectives ahead of the customers.  Instead, it’s about serving the customer, and it starts with listening. How?  It begins with the questions you ask.

When you’re preparing for a sales call, how much time do you spend thinking about what you want to say versus the questions you want to ask? 

I contend we need to spend far more time thinking about the questions we want to ask.

via US National Archives on GIPHY

If you fail to have eight questions at minimum to ask a customer anytime you meet with them, then you’re doing both you and the customer a disservice.  Eight is not a magic number, but it is the number I’ve found that requires some serious thinking. Typically on any call there’s little chance you would even get to ask all eight. The key is this, you’re prepared, plus you never want to run out of potential questions you can ask.

Asking questions is a key part of listening–the better your questions the more listening you get to do.

Sadly, many salespeople look upon listening as a passive activity, or the period of time to catch their breath before speaking again. That’s not selling, that’s manipulation!   

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Listening is action oriented.

It’s listening to understand, because your job is to take their comment and ask a follow-up question about it. 

The key in building trust is allowing the other person to know you genuinely care about them and their needs.

Don’t go there by jumping into your product pitch. At this point your product is not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem!  

via The Sales Hunter on GIPHY

Our goal always has to be focused on understanding the outcomes the customer is looking for. The real prize for the customer is when we are able to help them see and achieve what they didn’t think was possible.  Chew on that last line for a minute and ask yourself what it means.  

It’s at this point where the conversation moves to a deeper level.  

When you and the customer are truly interacting and the questions and comments are flowing freely between both parties, it’s a reflection of trust and confidence as you begin helping them see an outcome they didn’t think was possible.

This is what sales is all about; it’s at this point the customer, because they trust you, is moving themselves into a different mindset.  

In my job I have this happen frequently. A customer may be wanting me to speak at their sales meeting, but through our conversation and the development of trust and confidence the customer sees an even bigger outcome they need help with.  For example, the result may include me doing a keynote at their sales meeting followed by some coaching of their sales managers.  

Sales is not as hard as people make it out to be.

It’s about having a conversation where you put the customer first.  It’s a conversation centered around the questions you ask to help understand the customer’s desired outcome clearly.  

When you know the desired outcome, you’re now in a position to help them see what’s possible.


Read more for 6 Things Customers Need Before They Buy

Available now:   Ep. 65: How to Maintain a Positive Sales Mindset

Curious on how to lead in a challenging marketplace (and possible recession?)


Download this Thursday’s episode with Meridith Elliott Powell for tips on how to lead during times of uncertainty. 

Copyright 2023, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.

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