Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

We are bombarded with new ideas from all directions. Some are fascinating enough to capture our attention, but usually, they don’t motivate us to change. Our customers share this experience.

What does drive customers to consider change is when clearly proposed benefits generated by ideas, products and services go beyond fulfilling a need, to helping achieve a goal. Making the effort to discover why meeting a need is important, how this helps them succeed, changes everything concerning how a customer feels about what you and your offerings. The generosity and respect revealed by your investment of time and energy to learn a customer’s story and aspirations before proposing a solution, enables them to feel that you care more about helping them make money than about taking their money. It is this feeling, and not the related facts, that actually drive customers to consider a change; facts are used later to validate their decision.

This is the truth that has remained unaffected by all the new methods introduced to help us do business. Customers don’t buy our products and services…they buy our promise about how they will benefit and what more they can achieve if they choose our offering – more connected, more productive, more successful.

You uncover this truth by asking the right questions in the right order, and by listening and learning what the customer values. The businesses that succeed have learned to recognize what’s true for their customers, and then have proposed solutions that match the purpose, values, habits and rituals that those customers live out every day.

To help discover what a customer truly values, consider these two suggestions:

  • Noticing what customers do, how they act, is often more valuable than listening to what they say; their actions provide clues about what they truly value.
  • Recognizing why people do what they do requires empathy – the ability to see an experience through your customer’s eyes helps you discover their truth.
How often do you probe why a customer’s need is important?
How clearly do you align your proposed solutions 
with a customer’s goal vs. a need?