I Don’t Care What You Want


I don’t care what you want.    What I do care about is why you want it.

In sales today, it is more important than ever to get after the why because it is so dang easy to skip it.

You see, buyers of all types today walk into your business, or ring your phone, or fill out that form online, or open a chat box, or saunter up to your trade show booth or  even drive onto your car lot and tell you what they want.

They do that because they’ve done so much advance research online that they know (or think they know) exactly what they want.

Some of us think that is so cool, that this internet thing is doing the selling for us and by the time the buyer comes to us in our office or in our store – it’s a done deal.

But it ain’t.  And you know it.  Never before have buyers come in droves telling you what widget they want and then walk away, don’t call back,  don’t take a sample, don’t take a test drive and just don’t buy – let alone become a long term fruitful customer.   And we throw up our hands and say “What the heck, they wanted this thing!”   Some of us think it’s because of fierce competition, or that the leads are weak, or that the same internet that drove the prospects to us is making them too choosey.

But I’m here to tell it’s because you’re so enamored that the customer knows what they want that you are likely forgetting to take the time to ask why.

  • If I know why you want this widget and what good it will do for you or what problem it solves, then I’m going to be better at articulating why my business will be the best at providing it today and in the future with additional products and services I can provide.
  • If I know why you want this widget and why you’ve chosen me to bring this request to and what inspired you to swing by my doors or ring my phone then I’ll have a better sense of what is important you in a partner or provider – not just today but in the future as I look to retain and enhance your business with me.
  • If I know why you want this widget and how comfortable you are with this technology or space and perhaps who you admire who uses this widget then I can tailor my language, my sales approach and tell stories a lot better not just today but in the future when we are working together to expand your services with me.

There’s a lot more and different why’s to get after based on what you do – take the time to think them through and apply in your buyer interactions.

The point is this: More than ever, the prospect has something specific in mind when they come to you but that does not lesson the need of figuring out, as all great sales people do, the why behind the request.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.


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Assume He’s Earned It


That moment stayed with me all week while vacationing in Maine for a few days last week. 

He shuffled slowly, eyes riveted on the beach, his elbow tended by his middle aged daughter as he made his way to a table at the ocean front restaurant. 

He looked well into his 80’s or even into his 90’s, and I had a passing thought that maybe this beach was just one of many he’d seen in a lifetime as a civilian and perhaps as a Serviceman.

But it was what the younger gentleman dining alone said that struck me.  He broke from eating, stood and pulled out a chair for the elderly man and when the daughter mouthed “Thank you” the single diner said  “He’s earned it.”

“He sure has” the daughter beamed. 

The lone diner had no idea what this man had done to “earn it” and nor did I.  But the point is that there was an assumption that he had.

Giving help this lone diner so simply reminded me, was something not given out of pity or helplessness or ignorance or obligation but rather, out of assumed respect for the person. 

That’s a lesson we need to hear more of it seems to me.  There are some assumptions we need to change.

I grow worried that in business (and elsewhere in our lives) there’s a “prove to me” perspective too many of us take when meeting or working with people for the first time.  That we as sales people and managers and trainers sometimes approach prospects and existing customers, as well as new and veteran employees,  as people that need to earn the chance to be “worthy” of our time, our work, our humbleness and our help. That the help we give is a magnanimous gift on our part vs. help being given simply because it has already been earned.

It’s not that the old man in Maine may have served our country or done something great to “earn it”. Who the heck knows what he’s done but the presumption should be more often than not, that we are privileged to help people vs. the other way around.

  • Assume before calling on this prospect that she isn’t inexperienced just because her business is new but rather that she’s a 20 year business veteran now branching out on her own.   Assume that and you’ll do all the research required before you visit or call and be in a far better position to provide real help.
  •  Assume that this new hire class has collective sales experience like no other class before (as in this economy without a doubt they do).  Assume that and giving the “What Sales is Really All About” speech might change to real help in the form of a selling workshop fostering discussion about how to sell in a sketchy economy.
  •  Assume that the owner you are talking to also does most of the selling for his company.  Assume that and slamming in 4 product pitches or 3 trail closes isn’t the help you’ll give today. 


You can add your own new assumptions about each member of your staff or the customers in the territory you just inherited or the leader you now report to.  Just make sure the assumptions are that they’ve already “earned it” because chances are they have.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.