“When you’re selling, you need to leave behind the focus on your business and your products and focus instead on your customer and your customer’s needs.”

Especially if you are doing your own selling as the owner/operator of your own business, this may seem difficult at first, or even counterintuitive. You probably can’t wait to tell every customer what the overall best features of your products are and how your company is differentiated and better than the competition. But that is not customer-focused selling, and it is not by any means the best approach.

Sell Solutions, Not Products

Customer-focused selling is not just an adaptation of existing selling techniques to focus more on the customer. Instead, it’s a whole new approach that can barely even be called “selling.” Take any sales techniques you have used in the past and, instead of adapting them, throw them out!

Don’t confuse “customer-focused selling” with “selling the customer.” Don’t think of it in terms of selling at all. Instead, think of it in terms of helping customers find solutions that will help them achieve their objectives.

Leave your objectives, your sales goals, and your quotas at the door. Instead, adopt the mind-set that you are there as an “inside” consultant to help your prospect with the tools (the products or services) that you have available.

Focus on the Customer’s Needs

Customer-focused selling means NOT focusing on your great products or wonderful services. It means, instead, focusing on the customer’s needs.

I know you can’t wait to show your products to the customer. I know you can’t wait to explain to the customer how you think you can help his or her business. I know you can’t wait to go into competitive advantages. But you’re going to have to wait. If you want to sell the best way possible, you have to wait before you start presenting your products or services.

Instead, you need to shine the spotlight on the customer. First, you need to find out what the customer wants, what the customer cares about, and what objectives the customer is trying to achieve.

Every Customer Is Different

Customer-focused selling means helping your customer find added value. You need to be totally focused and immersed in helping your customer. You need to be focusing on how you can deliver as much benefit as possible toward the customer’s objectives. As business today becomes more complex, a salesperson needs to be able to explore and address buyers who have many different concerns.

For example, when manufacturers’ sales reps are presenting their product line to retail store owners they often assume that the buyers are completely preoccupied with how well the salesperson’s product will sell-through to the customers of their store. However, the store owners may have additional concerns that the sales reps are more likely to overlook. The store owners may be concerned about how the product will affect their overall product mix; how it will impact their monthly open-to-buy budget; what co-op advertising funds may be available; and how reliable the restocking schedule will be.

Today more than ever, each customer has very unique concerns, and you can’t sell until you find out what those concerns are.

Have a Dialogue, Not a Presentation

Keep your sales presentation customized to the one customer you are presenting to.

You may very well have a slick dog-and-pony show that’s lots of fun to present to customers. Maybe it’s a video, a computer program, or just a four-color catalog. Think twice before you make a generic presentation.

Customers don’t want to hear about how great your company is or how wonderful your products are. They want to have their concerns answered. Today, customers are overflowing with information, and they are tired of slick, high-tech presentations. What you can offer is a presentation that addresses their concerns and issues—and ONLY their concerns and issues.

Better yet, think of your “presentation” as a two-way dialogue in which both you and the customer explore the customer’s needs first, and then determine how your products or services may be able to meet those needs.

Put on Your Customer’s Shoes

Customer-focused selling means imagining yourself in your customer’s shoes from the beginning to the end of the sales process. Wouldn’t you rather have a salesperson call on you who genuinely wants to help you find solutions for your business than a salesperson who is just going to blast canned product sales pitches at you?

Wouldn’t you rather deal with a salesperson who explores solutions with you instead of trying to close the sale prematurely or who meets every one of your objections with an argumentative response? Wouldn’t you rather deal with a salesperson who is trying to sell you the best product or service for your needs rather than the one he or she can make the most money on?

So go and review your sales process, and make sure it is focused on your customer’s needs, not on your products or services.

Takeaways You Can Use

  • Sell solutions, not products.
  • Have a conversation with your customer, not a lecture.
  • Imagine yourself in your customer’s shoes from the beginning to the end of the sales process.