Many years ago I learned the hard way that customers don’t really want to buy anything. They don’t have any interest in the products and services that we sell, so trying to find customers that want our products or services is a losing battle. Instead, we need to find a customer who has an interest in attaining the business outcomes that can be achieved using our products and services.

Very little of what is sold is an end to itself; it’s more a means to an end. Customers don’t buy our products and services because they want to use them, they want to put them to use in order to accomplish something. There’s a saying that illustrates this: last year millions of electric drills were sold. Not a single person who bought one wanted a drill; what they wanted was a hole! This can be applied to practically anything that is sold. In fact, no one wants to buy sales training either. When our clients hire us for sales training it’s not training that they want, it’s increased revenue. Sales training is just necessary to achieve the objective of improved sales results.

I encourage you to make a list of the specific problems that your company can solve and the business outcomes that you can help your customers achieve. Start by thinking of the goals and results you’ve helped other customers achieve. Next, get really good at asking questions about those things rather than talking about the products and services themselves. Questions such as:

“I’ve met with other companies in your industry who have this problem, do you ever experience this?”

“Is this an issue at your company?”

“How big of an issue is this?”

“How often is this occurring?”

“What’s the cost to your business when this problem occurs?”

Explore the existence of a disparity such as a business problem that’s causing pain or a business outcome that they want to achieve. A business outcome is a goal, objective, or initiative and usually something that they are already emotionally invested in. For example – wanting to grow their business, or increase operations throughout without adding head count. Find out what they want to achieve that your products or services can make possible. Then, sell the solution to that problem where your offering is simply a means to an end.

Rather than talk about features, functions, and competitive advantages about your products and services, learn to ask questions about the problems you can solve and the outcomes you can help your clients achieve and see if they have an interest in that. When we help solve problems they already have or achieve goals they already want to achieve, we don’t have to sell them anything at all. We simply provide a solution that they’re already looking for.