Sell What the Customer Wants

Steve Marr

To survive, a business needs to sell. However, a key question involves what methodology and strategy you use to sell. Too often a business will fire out sales efforts to everybody they can hoping to land a sale. A lot of this effort is wasted because without proper customer qualification you really don’t know who an appropriate customer for your service or product is.

I’ve written several times before on the topic that we must listen and understand what the buyer wants and target a product focused on satisfying that desire. We can spend significant time in a situation where the prospective customer doesn’t really need or want what we offer. When we continue to pound on these individuals with hard selling, we simply waste our time. We barely have enough time to focus on those customers who do want what we offer.


At one time in my career, I was responsible for corporate purchasing.  I can’t remember the number of times a person would come in, present a product or service by rattling off all the reasons why I should buy it. Frequently, I could have cared less about what they sold. They were wasting their time and more importantly, wasting mine. If these individuals had started by listening to what I needed and what was important to our business, perhaps we could have found common ground.  This might have generated an opportunity to sell. However, the hard-sell focus on something our business wasn’t interested in was a total turnoff.

The key is to draw a customer out in a way that encourages them to ask questions so that a seller can understand how to meet their needs. The salesperson needs to understand what problem the customer needs to solve and find a way to solve it. When a customer asks a question, provide a clear and concise response. You may be tempted to alter your response to fit what you want to sell. Instead, directly answer the customer first. How many times do we see politicians on television ignore the question and substitute their own spin?

Solomon had to answer a lot of questions when the Queen of Sheba came to visit and “Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.” (I Kings 10:3, NIV) Answer all your customer’s questions carefully, forthrightly and clearly in a way that will demonstrate how your product will meet the need and watch your sales increase.