Getting to why

There are a number of options for tourists to get to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building and the sweeping views it offers of New York City. All but one of them requires waiting in long lines and going through security. The Express Entry pass allows the holder to go to the front of the line. It costs twice the price of regular entry.

“At first, it seems outrageous, until the line is 500 people deep, and your urgency to buy has greater value than your desire to wait in line,” says Jennifer Gluckow, sales coach, founder of Sales In A New York Minute (, and author of a new book by the same name.

B2B prospects are just like those New York City tourists. “Many of your customers have the same urgency, you just don’t know which ones. At some point, price is no longer a consideration,” Gluckow says. “Your job is not just to make a sale. Your job is to understand your customer well enough to know when they’re willing to run to the front of the line.”

When reps know how to uncover each customer’s urgency to buy, profits can jump way past the 102nd floor. “Finding out a prospect’s real ‘why’ is the most important part of the selling process,” Gluckow says. “Why he or she needs it is more important than the need itself.”

She emphasizes that prospects’ “why” may be three questions deep. If they say they want to raise productivity, ask why. They may explain that costs are increasing and they need to bump profits. Ask why. Only then, may you get to information like, “We have to reduce the work force, and we need a machine that will help the administrative person bear the extra tasks she’ll be taking on.” That’s the real “why.”

Gluckow says, “Salespeople are too busy trying to figure out ‘how’ and overlook the real secret to selling — the customer’s ‘why.’”

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