The key to successful selling: Become a priority

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"The customer loves our product and service and they want to buy from us, but right now they are handling some higher priority situations, however I am sure right after that they are definitely going to buy from us!" If you constantly hear yourself or one of your sales professionals make this statement and find that the customer still has not purchased after several months, you need to understand something; you are NOT a priority to the customer and you need to become one. Why is it that a sales professional’s number one priority is to close the sale and yet buying the product is the prospective client’s last priority? If the product or service helps the customer, they like it, they want it, then why would it not be a top priority, if not the number one priority?

The answer is simple. Your product or service cannot become a client’s No. 1 priority until you understand the customer's priorities. There are a couple of things you can do to move buying your product or service up on the customer's priority list without having to offer a financial incentive or limited time offer.

Avoiding the Limited Time Offer

Many organizations create a sense of urgency or move up the priority list of their customers by trying to offer a financial incentive or a limited time offer. This works in many retail environments, which is why retailers have weekly specials and advertisements in newspapers, but what about in business to business sales or those retail sales that are not based on a weekly special or advertisement? 

A salesperson must create a sense of urgency or become the customer’s priority, but the difference between a sales clerk and sales professional is that the salesperson should away from trying to be the cheapest. Selling on price alone devalues the product; it is about selling the value, the benefit, not the price alone. The difference is found when you start to focus on becoming a priority to the customer. If you try to create a sense of urgency as a solution or as a strong close, all you have is limited quantity or limited time offer, but when you focus on the priority in the beginning by asking the right questions, you are able to influence the customer to buy now without resorting to desperate tactics. The question is, how can you get customers to view your product or service as a priority?

Becoming a Priority

When developing your purposeful questions (qualifying questions), develop questions that will allow you to understand the goals and current priorities of the prospective customer. The better you understand the customer's goals and priorities, the more likely it is that you will be able to show how your product or service will help benefit the customer as their top priority. This is a lot more than asking open-ended questions or leading questions. Ask questions to truly understand the prospect's responsibilities and the pains of their job until you’ve gained enough knowledge to directly show how your product or service can help the prospective customer with their immediate goals or priorities. By doing this, the prospective customer knows they need to buy now.

A good sample question is, "What are your top 3 priorities this quarter and this year?" Ask this to truly understand the "why" and the "how" of those priorities. The better you understand the customer's perspective, the more likely you are to help them make an immediate and beneficial decision.

Many times a salesperson only asks questions based on their product or service and then immediately makes an offer. They ask questions about how the customer is currently using their product or service and what they like and dislike, etc. Based on those standard questions, unless their number 1 priority happens to incidentally be to purchase that product or service, that salesperson will be waiting until the customer has time to make a decision, which may never happen.

By asking the right questions, you’re able to determine how your product or service can become a top priority or sometimes just as important Maybe after asking all of the questions, you find out that your product or service cannot be an immediate benefit to the customer’s goals and priorities. In this case, you are able to plan accordingly. Accordingly means giving a more accurate forecast of when the customer will be making the purchase and most importantly knowing when to and when not to offer a financial incentive to get the prospective customer to take immediate action-versus it being a default sales tactic. 

More than just a Close

There is not a magic wand for closing more sales and coming up with witty catch phrases will not do much more than get a good laugh. The real magic is in the preparation and the skill of selling. You can close more sales when you focus on the benefit the prospective customer is looking to obtain, not just the benefit of your product or service.  When you understand the prospective customer’s priorities, you will be able to become a customer's priority.

Nathan Jamail is the author of “The Playbook Series.” As a former executive for Fortune 500 companies, and owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. For more information, visit or contact (972) 377-0030.


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