Legendary sales guru Zig Ziglar once said that the most popular radio station in the world is WII FM, which stands for "what's in it for me?"

As sales professionals, the single biggest change we can make in our behavior to improve our success is to simply get over ourselves and start focusing on our customers and prospects.

I never cease to be amazed at how many sales people focus on themselves rather than on what their customer actually wants to buy. The fact of the matter is, our customers aren't interested in what we have to say unless they feel it is in their best interests. We can't be persuasive if our focus is on us.

Reframe the question

To reframe your approach so that your customers' interests are always at the forefront, start by asking yourself three key questions:

  • Who cares? In other words - whom are you selling to? Be as specific as possible. Are you selling to Marketing VPs in the textile industry, or Chief Technology Officers in the aerospace industry?
  • Why us? The answer to this question defines your product, whether it's a tradeshow booth, retirement-planning system, clothing line or human resource staffing service.
  • So what? This is where you answer your client's all-important question, "what's in it for me?"

Put your answers to these questions together and you'll get a statement that sounds something like this:

"You mentioned that you're working with a very restricted budget. The VPs of Marketing at banks across Canada and the U.S. are buying our tradeshow equipment because it can cut their labor and shipping costs by up to 40 percent while still maintaining durability. Knowing that, does it make sense to look at our product line?"

Take it to the mountain

Next, you need to make sure you're presenting the features of your product or service that directly address your customers' best interests. How? The answer to this lies with the seven most important letters you may ever come across in your career: "MT. SAMIE."

There are seven core motivators that drive all human behavior. "MT. SAMIE" is a simple acronym designed to help you remember those motivators whenever you're dealing with new or existing clients. Here's how it works:

M = Money: As Zig Ziglar once said, "Money isn't everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen."

T = Time: Despite all of our so-called labor-saving devices, it's staggering how many people are still utterly time impoverished. E-mail, anyone?

S = Security: People have a natural tendency to avoid risk in favor of security, whether it's risk in buying a product or the security that comes from having a "safe" job.

A = Achievement: All of us enjoy producing results. If your solution will help a prospect accomplish something or achieve their sales targets, then you will be much more likely to grab their attention.

M = Making a difference: Look at what's happening all over the world today. People will often help out if they feel like what they are being asked to do will really make a difference.

I = Image and reputation: Whether we admit it or not, we're all concerned with what other people think about us. In fact, it is the power of image and reputation that leads so many of us to have a hard time saying "no." If your solution affects someone's image or reputation, then believe me - you'll get their attention.

E = Enjoyment: People go to great lengths to increase enjoyment in their lives. If you're not enjoying the situation you're in with a customer or colleague, odds are, they're not too thrilled about it either. Discovering and communicating "what's in it for them" can go a long way towards making the experience less stressful and more enjoyable - and help you make a great impression.

Sure, this advice isn't exactly rocket science. In my experience, however, common sense doesn't always translate into common practice.

Just ask yourself: when was the last time a customer asked you for information, and instead of letting them buy what they really wanted, you proceeded to try to sell them on what you thought the best product features were?

When in doubt, go back to MT. SAMIE, and ask yourself if your solution is truly addressing one of your prospect's core motivators. Or to keep things even simpler, just remember the words of the immortal Yogi Berra: "The fastest way to get what you want is first to help others get what they want."

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Nonstop Sales Boom by Colleen Francis Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.

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