"What you don't know can't hurt you‚" One could debate the validity of this statement as a premise in life, but in sales, what you don't know about your customer can and will seriously harm you!

If you don't really understand what's important to the customer, preparing your sales presentation will be as futile as painting in the dark. You will not know where you've been or where you are going. You will be inviting stiff resistance to your value proposal because you didn't give the customer a role in helping you discover his/her needs. Only when you understand your customers' needs will you be in a position to resolve their problems and ultimately win the business.

It should always be our goal to learn our customers' businesses from top to bottom. We can do this by getting customers to tell us about their vision for the future. Find out what each customer's enterprise stands for, why it exists‚ and what the organization aspires to become. With this knowledge, we will be able to match our capabilities to our customers' needs, and much better positioned to support our customers in the attainment of their aspirations.

Once you have listened to understand and created credibility and rapport, you will be in position to positively influence the decision-making process and bring bottom-line value to the customer.