How to REALLY understand your prospects

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Salespeople often find themselves so occupied with selling their service, that they forget the most important person in the room: the customer.

As a salesperson, your product is only 50% of the appeal, the other 50% is how you deliver the product.

Look at your sales pitch as you would a good book. You want to first excite and engage the prospect so that you have their attention. Then you must maintain that attention with an interesting narrative, making it a real page turner. Finally, you should have a great ending, that ties the loose ends but leaves the customer wanting more. In order to have an engaging and cohesive story, you need to understand your characters. Understanding is key in sales as it allows you to tap into the needs of your prospects so you can address their pain points and answer their desires.

Every one of us is unique. We think, behave, and see things in different ways. In this article, I will be walking you through the top tips for understanding your prospect on a more personal level so you can optimise your sales approach.

Here are my top tips for getting under the skin of your prospect and understand what they want.


It’s important when you meet with a prospect to make a connection. Building an emotional relation will allow you to establish trust between yourself and the client. Customers will put their resources into someone who understands their needs and desires. You may have a great service, but it’s building rapport that will secure you the sale.

Refrain from diving right into the hard sell when meeting for the first time. Some initial small talk will help to break the ice and find some common ground between you. When a prospect feels relaxed, they are more likely to be honest and open about their feelings going forward, and more open to doing business. Common ground can be found in anything from a recent sports event to the traffic. What you talk about is not all that important, it’s all about breaking down the barrier between you and the prospect. And remember, if in doubt…talk about the weather!

Getting an insight into the prospects general thoughts and opinions will help you to work out their personality and get a better grasp on how you should behave around them. You should be working to match their energy. Are they easy going and informal or are they more structured and reserved?

Sales mirroring is a technique you can use to foster a sense of understanding between you and the prospect, putting them at ease. It involves subtly imitating the communication behaviours of the prospect to build trust between you, blurring the line between business and personal interaction. Customers are far more willing to compromise with someone they trust. But be careful, you don’t want to overdo it and look as if you are mocking them. Subtlety is key here.


Although it’s tempting, you must fight the urge to do all the talking. This isn’t about you. Give your prospect time to talk through their current situation without interruption and show good listening skills to let them know you are engaged and present. Take notes and make positive affirmation to their points, so they know you are interested.

For you to really understand the prospects problems and needs, you must be inquisitive. Ask them questions so you can build a mental profile on them and fill in the gaps on anything you’re not clear on. Once they’ve finished, go back over the conversation, and highlight any key elements for clarification. If you are unsure on something they have said, or just want to hear it again, don’t be afraid to backtrack. It’s better to get the full picture from the start rather than realise something further down the line that might compromise the sale.


This will call on your empathy skills. Think about the prospects current situation and how you can improve it. Maybe they need help to reduce long working hours, address their lack of income, improve their working environment, a lack of staff or maybe even their own physical or mental health.

Stepping out of the salesperson headspace and exploring what the other person is wanting, thinking, and feeling is how to take your sales approach from mediocre to expert. Ask yourself how you would feel if you were in the same situation. What would you want to happen? Ultimately, the customer expects you to deliver on what you have promised them, and hopefully even surpass this.

Always try to offer a personal service where you can. Make the effort to learn the prospect’s name and address them where appropriate, recalling on certain things they have said to show them you have actively listened. Look to identify the client’s specific goals and what attracted them to your company in the first place so that you can build your pitch around their individual needs and goals. You are your own best representative, so bring solutions to the table when a prospect reveals their pain points. The more you can diversify your business offerings over time, the more intimate your service will become.

The best way to build trust in your product is to show the client the successes you’ve had with other customers. These case studies will help to increase the credibility of your brand to someone who is considering investing in you. People often find some comfort in being part of the crowd, especially a satisfied crowd. What made previous customers pick you over the competition? How have you successfully delivered on promises and met needs in the past? These are the types of questions you should be looking to answer for the prospect, even if they haven’t directly asked them. 78% of business buyers seek trusted advisors- not just salespeople. You want to be removing any uncertainty they may have over their choice,

and then…


How is your prospect feeling right now? Are they frustrated, angry, excited? How do they want this working relationship to positively impact their life?

As a salesperson, you need to let them visualise a successful result. Paint them a picture of the positive outcome and help them to see what you can do for them. If it’s lack of income they struggle with, demonstrate what they will be able to do with the money you will help them earn. Maybe they need a better work/life balance, so show your prospect what they will be able to do with the extra time that you will allow them to enjoy. 

As long as you maintain a positive mental attitude, it’s likely that the prospect will want to match this mindset. So don’t be afraid to sell them the success story.


Do you see a trend in the types of customers you attract to your business? What do they all have in common? Perhaps they all share similar pain points in their businesses, or they are looking to expand their success rate. Having a persona profile of your typical customer is crucial to tapping into their needs and desires. You should always be looking to customize your sales pitch to appeal to the target market in dynamic and interactive ways.

Once you get a good idea of what your ideal customer looks like, you can efficiently market your business in that area, addressing specific problems so that your product or service will sell itself. Different products have different markets, so find yours. This way you won’t find yourself in a position where you are wasting valuable time selling to the wrong market.


So, what happens if you fail to understand the needs of your prospect?

You might be resistant to modernise your approach and get on board with technological advancements, finding yourself getting left behind the competition. The saying ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ doesn’t just apply to you and your neighbour! This also applies to your prospects. They will always be on the lookout to do things better, cheaper, or quicker and you can bet your competition will be keeping an eye on market trends even if you’re not.

So, continue to ask questions of your prospects. Ask what their needs are, what frustrates them, what could they do without? Look to understand them and then find the best way to solve their dilemmas for them. You need to be marketing yourself as the solution. 

I really hope these sales tips have been useful and that you will use them to understand the needs of your prospects moving forward. Remember, they have a desired outcome from this interaction, just like you. A successful salesperson will tap into this and use it to their advantage.

Managing customer expectations is no easy feat. But, with these tips in mind, your successes should far outweigh your failures. Taking the time to understand your prospect and adjusting your approach accordingly will help you improve rapport, likeability, and boost sales. Do your research, know your customer, and be confident! There’s no reason why this shouldn’t work out for you.



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