By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips for understanding buyer needsMost salespeople are proud of the products/offerings they sell. The most significant mistake I made when starting my Sales career was to believe my job was educating buyers about offerings. One of the biggest challenges was determining which features were relevant to buyers I was calling on.

I’m not proud to share there were instances where I got into “spray and pray” mode by blindly telling buyers about features. This was a tremendous waste of the buyer’s time and made little or no progress toward earning sales. Beyond that, when buyers decided certain features mentioned weren’t relevant, they were likely to start down the road of concluding that my offering was too complicated and therefore too expensive. This was an early death spiral for most buying cycles.

Since we created CustomerCentric Selling® in 2002, we have said the primary difference between superior sellers (A Players) and the rest (B and C Players) is patience. There are many areas where patience is important, but presenting offerings AFTER understanding a buyer’s needs is critical. 

In my mind superior sellers earn the right to talk about specific capabilities of their offerings. The best way I know is to follow the Covey core concept: Start with the end in mind. By that I mean sellers should create diagnostic questions for potentially relevant features. Based upon how buyers answer these questions should enable sellers to present only those parts of their offerings that buyers are likely to find useful/valuable.

A seller’s mission in first calls can be defined as: 

  1. Learning a buyer’s desired business outcomes.
  2. Asking diagnostic questions so that buyers understand barriers to achieving outcomes.
  3. Offering only those capabilities that address the barriers.
  4. Asking the buyer if having those capabilities would enable them to achieve the outcomes.

Blurting out random features or worse yet, doing “spray and pray” demonstrations without first understanding buyer needs is like entering a dark cave without a flashlight. I strongly suggest sellers do pre-call planning by creating diagnostic questions, which can be very enlightening for buyers.  

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