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Ways to Respect the Needs of Potential Clients

Traditional selling suggests you impress your prospect by telling them you know what they need, why they need it, and that you have the answer to their problems. Well this creates quite the communication breakdown if you don’t have trust first. Buyers feel pressured to do or buy something so they retreat. How can we help our potential clients to really "see" us without being over-bearing and creating pressure?

  1. Assume nothing about the potential for a sale

Forget about closing a deal with this person. That removes the pressure on you to be perfect and to “sell”. Focus on the inquiry and their needs and let go of the outcome.

  1. Indicate you may not have the answer they seek

If you let them know you are not right for everyone who inquires of your services, you allow the prospective client to relax and just have a conversation with you.

  1. Listen to their needs

Then you can demonstrate you understand, pause and consider before you respond.Iterate their needs back to them without offering solutions. Just summarize so they feel and are understood.

  1. Control your enthusiasm and excitement to avoid objectifying

If you demonstrate too much excitement the other person will back away because they will pick up your desire for the sale instead of your interest in helping them.

  1. Be empathetic and pause to take in each objection

Trying to demonstrate how well we problem-solve is a key mistake. The presenting issue may not be the real issue, and a quick solution may indicate that you know your stuff but maybe you’re not really needed. Listen and slow down instead.

  1. Moderate your tone of voice to convey maturity and openness

This is a variation on the enthusiasm problem above. If you are too excited, then you show that you are thinking about your own needs instead of the prospective client.

  1. Imagine you are moving from opposite sides of a negotiation to the same side (think win/win)

Seeking help can be confrontational. Imagine your only goal is to be supportive and helpful. Move yourself from a position of opposition to one of support and that will help you to stay focused on the other person.

  1. Listen to their needs and respond slowly

Take your time to respond. This is critical especially if you are not sure what is going to be required of you. State you need to think about the answer and want to ruminate on their issues. Everyone appreciates being considered.

  1. Ask questions, ask more questions Don’t assume you know what’s going on. Keep digging through both the objections and the concerns. There’s more information to be had that can help you decide if this match is right.

  2. Acknowledge their fears and dig deep into them for the “truth”.

Fears are oftentimes hidden by more legitimate concerns so rephrase their concerns as fears. For example, “Oh, you’ve spent a lot of time talking about how you want the site to look and the fact that you want a simple site. Yet, what you are requiring is going to need significant database development. Before we continue this discussion, is it your belief that this project is going to be significantly more than you can afford?” This question addresses the hidden fear.

Copyright by my friend and colleague, Kathleen B. Schulweis, Ph.D. from her new workbook on Confidence Selling which may be purchased at

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