consultative selling

What It Takes to “Get It"


“You get it." Ever heard a customer utter those words? Whether your customer says it or thinks it, those three words are the precursor to any customer relationship.

So how do you get your customers to get that you get it? There’s no trick, script, or system. You have to prove to the customer that you see what they see - that you fully grasp their perspective.

Eight years ago, I met a customer who had fired 4 providers before me. He found me via Google and asked me to give a pitch. He was willing to spend big money but said he fired his previous providers because they didn’t “get" what he was trying to do...

The man was a brilliant engineer whose company sold sonar imaging software. During our meeting he explained the details about his business and the goals that eluded him. But not being an engineer myself, I was lost in the techno-speak.

I wanted to help him, so I asked him to show me his software. “That was a first," he said.

I replied, “What do you mean?" He said I was the first marketer or creative consultant who wanted to observe his product before developing campaigns, promotions, and website content.

He took me to a control room and sat me at a computer hooked to nine monitors stacked three levels high, all flickering with waves of data. The system curved around me like the controls of a spacecraft. Enthusiastically, he began showing me how it all worked.

2 hours later, I had a cursory understanding of sonar imaging and how his system improved sonar data for nautical use.

But then a funny thing happened...

The man’s speaking pattern transformed from technical jargon to heartfelt conversation. He began sharing his ultimate goals for the business, his passion for his unique team, and how he began the company on a shoestring budget.

At this point, I didn’t have to “engage the customer." He was engaging me. I didn’t need to “sell" him. He wanted to buy. See the difference?

I began to understand who this man was and what was meaningful to him. Making money wasn’t his primary driver. He wanted to create something important - to use his imagination and intellect to contribute something to the world.

We spent the last hour of the day with a whiteboard. He shared ideas with me. I shared ideas with him. I knew his product and goals well enough by then to contribute real value to the brainstorming discussion. I offered a specialty he didn’t have - marketing and branding expertise. In less than a day, I had become a member of his planning team.

The appointment was over, but just before I cleared the security checkpoint exit, he said, “Thank you for getting it."

Notice: There were no sales barriers. No qualifying questions. No slick presentation. No need to close the prospect. I simply took the time to do what no one else had done - care, listen, see, understand, and contribute.

I went beyond simply selling a customer. I saw from his eyes, walked in his shoes, and shared his perspective of the world. When you do, your customer will award you with a slice of trust. And that slice is all you need, because people naturally equate a willingness to listen and understand to wisdom and selfless friendliness - two of the most scarce traits in the business world today.

Do you get it?

I’m sure you do! Perhaps you have an example similar to mine or a story that sheds new light on the topic. Add your contribution (or question) to the comments below!