Your customers pick you for a reason—use that to your advantage

You’re like 99% of businesses out there. You have this complete mishmash between what you think you sell and what people are really buying from you. And if you can’t connect those two things, your sales will never be what they truly could be. There’s a fundamental difference between what you sell and what people buy and why they buy it.

Let’s say you’re a lawyer. Some people are going through a separation, some are buying a home, and some are in the process of acquiring a business. These are reasons why they look for a lawyer. However, these aren’t the reasons why they’ll pick you as their lawyer. There’s a difference here.

I’m in marketing. People come to us because they need a video or they need a website. Perhaps they’re launching a new product, or they have to market something. They know what they have to do, and they know what they are looking for, but that’s not the reason that they pick us. This difference may be very subtle, but more than anything, this difference can either make your business explode in terms of sales growth and connections with new markets or make your business stay average and ordinary.

Why do they select you? What are people really buying? If you can figure that out, if you know that, and you understand that, that’s what you can tap into. That’s what you can shape yourself to be from everything on all levels of your marketing and sales. You can wrap yourself into the thing that people are really looking for.

Here’s a really simple example: I’ve been in marketing for a decade. We are heavily focused on video, and people would come looking for a video. They’re looking for a tactic. It’s an activity. It’s something that we have to make when they start talking to us. However, we aren’t interested in having a conversation about the video; our conversation is about the outcome. What do we want people to learn? What do we want people to feel? What do we want people to experience? What kind of leads does this need to generate for their business? How does it convert people? People come for the video, but what people are really buying is the outcome, and the outcome is whatever they want the video to accomplish.

When I’m selling a video, when I’m marketing, when I’m working with a professional, it all comes down to what they’re buying, and what they’re really buying is risk aversion. They want the outcome. They want that thing to generate results for them. Why are they trying to avoid risk, and why are they trying to move toward a better outcome? It’s because, in a corporate environment, that makes them look good. That’s it, right? They want to look good. Hitting those KPIs, hitting those goals, and hitting those objectives make their job easier. It makes them look better, and they certainly don’t want to risk anything.

As I understand this, people work with us because they want to avoid risk. They don’t want to look foolish. Perhaps they want these outcomes to make them look really good to their peers. This all comes down to status. How does that change or shift what I say and how I say it?

Let’s say that you run a coffee shop. When people pick a coffee shop, is it because of the brand? Is it because of the price? The convenience? The flavor? I personally love Starbucks. Why is that? For me, it’s a sense of community. I love going there to work. I love seeing people. I love the fact that they start to learn my drink. I love the fact that the app knows what I’m doing and makes recommendations and all these things. To me, that’s a community. And then another reason I love Starbucks is their status, of course. Their status, right? I’m a Starbucks drinker. You may hate Starbucks, but for those of us who love Starbucks, there’s a certain amount of status with that. So that plays into my identity. I am the type of person who’s a Starbucks drinker, so this is what I’m really buying when I go into that coffee shop. That’s what I’m really buying. Those are my motivating factors. Now, Starbucks knows this, of course. It’s why they’re the ones who pioneered the third place, a place between work and home, and a sense of community. It’s why they have free Wi-Fi. It’s why they don’t bug you for sitting there all day even though you’ve only had a single cup of coffee. They know this. This is what they’re selling me, and this is what I’m buying.

So no matter what the business is—whether you’re a lawyer, a roofer, a marketer, or someone running a coffee shop like Starbucks—whatever it is, understanding what you’re really selling, based on your customers wants, is crucial to your sales, to your marketing, to your message, to your brand, to your customer experience, to retention, to everything! This is everything. You’re not in control of this—your customers are in control of this. It’s up to you to understand it and react to it. It always comes down to the same thing—how it makes us feel, how we look in front of others, and what those decisions say about us. That’s what it all comes down to.

When you’re looking at what you sell or how you sell it, what you market or how you market it, I want you to really think about the people that you’re trying to sell to. What is it that they really bought? So how do you figure this out? It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The only way is to listen. Go out and spend time talking to your customers in a retail environment. Work on the floor. Listen to what the people are saying. Yes, it’s anecdotal—it’s not scientific. But let me tell you, if you hear the same thing over the course of a few months, time and time and time again from many different people of many different backgrounds, it must be a truth, a universal truth.

If you’re in a business with a phone centre, listen to the recordings or jump on the call. If you sell through e-commerce, listen to the customer reviews, read them, and look for the similarities. Look for the truths that exist within. If you have the ability to take out some clients. Take them out for coffee or lunch and ask them philosophically, “What do you think about this?” You don’t necessarily have to give direct feedback; just try to work through these themes of what it is that people are really buying.

Watch people. Watch when things go wrong. Watch the reactions of customers when they are yelling at you. What has caused this crazy reaction to take place?

Look through your entire business—from your advertising to your marketing and your sales channels—and really understand each touchpoint and why people buy. So much of what we do comes down to that one thing, and if you can understand your customers by speaking to them and then by tapping into it, your sales will grow.

Your revenue will certainly grow, and you will be able to take your business to the next levels that you’ve been working to hit for years.