How do you sell to a client who does not know what they want?

I’ve sat in countless meetings where clients were unable to specify what they were looking for and made the mistake of “spray and pray” – throwing ideas at them and seeing which ones would stick.

For those of you who have done that before, you know how ineffective that can be, not to mention, detrimental to your credibility.

In today’s world, people are surrounded with information and options, that pinpointing down to a specific solution can be an indirect path. Fortunately, while clients may not be able to easily tell you what they want – they can tell easily tell you how they feel.

This is vital – because in sales, catering to the client’s emotional needs are the underlying reasons behind decisions. Clients can share about past experiences and what they liked or disliked. They can share about what they have heard from others which interested them. Moreover, clients can share what is important to them when choosing a solution offering. Notice when having this discussion that the client will be sharing more about what they prefer – which is what would interest them. Listen to their reasons as to why they have such preferences – and inevitably, their emotional needs would be stated.

As an advisor to the client – understanding their preferences and their vision for the future is fundamental. Yet, even the most experienced in sales can struggle with identifying the real reason behind the client’s thoughts. We’ve all heard of the analogy before – that people are like icebergs, and in order to understand others well, we need to dive deep into the iceberg and discover what lies at the bottom – people’s thoughts, emotions, and reasons. When people don’t know what they want, they have not explored deep enough into their own iceberg to understand themselves well enough. Previously, in my article – “Empathy in Sales”, I wrote about the importance of using communications to put ourselves into the perspective of the client. To dive into the client’s “iceberg” and maintain empathy as a sales professional, the mindset we need to keep is curiosity. Being curious while communicating with Empathy can bring about an open conversation with the client. One of the ways I have found to be able to do this is to start a sentence with “Let’s think this through together….

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