Seven Tips for Making Conversations Customer-Centric

Making Conversations Customer-Centric

I recently was coaching a new salesperson to shift their sales messaging to be more customer-centric. He was amazed at how simple it was to shift to a customer-centric message once he learned the framework and techniques. It truly is a game-changer. He also received several great responses to his new messaging. So, I thought I would share my seven key tips on how to make this shift in your conversations. If you take away one key point, make it this: It is really about showing genuine interest and care for your prospects.

Add Value

Start the conversation by adding value, and sharing something educational and informative to start the conversation. These snippets or insights have a dual purpose: they add value, and they create context for the question you ask next. The bigger reason is they open up the prospect to thinking deeper and differently about their situation, and the result is a richer, customer-focused conversation.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

After delivering an insight or snippet, encourage dialogue by asking questions that require more than a yes or no answer. For example, “What are the key challenges you’re facing with your current process?” The important point here is to stay focused on the customer. So often sellers hear the answer to that question and immediately jump to how they are going to solve it with their solution or product. That is not customer-focused.

Instead, stay in that moment by asking more about their situation, how it is impacting them, what they have tried to do to fix it, how that worked out, and what they are planning next. Be a detective, uncover more and more… and wait for the prospect to ask you to share what your product or solution would do for them. It will happen; you just need to show genuine interest in them first.

Use Genuine Active Listening

Truly listen to what the customer has to say. Understand their challenges, pain points and goals. Show you were listening by summarizing what you just heard back to the prospect. So often we listen to respond. What I mean by that is, we don’t really listen to understand, we are just listening to determine our next question, or how we will use the information to pitch a product or solution. Take the pressure off yourself, and just listen, ask more questions (open-ended questions, that is) and enjoy the journey to the shift. Have a conversation of genuine interest!

Share Relevant Stories

Instead of generic pitches, share stories of how you’ve helped similar customers, but be sure these stories align with the problems or goals your prospect has shared. The part of the brain that processes the story can’t tell the difference between experiencing the emotions itself or hearing them, so you activate those neurochemicals to cause an emotional response in the listener. And like magic, they start asking you questions.

Use “You” More Than “We”

Shift the words you use. Instead of starting with “We offer…” or “Our product can…”, try “You will experience…” or “Your business can benefit from…” This subtle change puts the spotlight on the customer. It takes them to a future state where their challenges or needs are solved and they are living in a new world where their problems are solved.

Show Empathy and Understanding

Use phrases that demonstrate empathy and understanding, such as “I see how that can be challenging…” or “It sounds like you need a solution that can…” Again, so often we jump to solving the problem. Stay with it, and be a good detective, ask deeper questions, get to the root of the situation and ask questions that deepen the pain- eventually, the conversation will shift to them asking about your product or solution.

Call to Action Focused on Their Needs

Tailor your call to action to their specific situation. For example, “Let’s explore how this can address your need for streamlined workflow,” or “Let’s discuss how you can solve that situation or achieve that goal by implementing a similar solution to [story] we just discussed.”

Shifting to a customer-centric sales approach is not just a technique, it’s a mindset transformation. This approach leads to richer, more meaningful conversations where the customers’ needs are at the forefront. Remember, the key to successful sales is showing genuine interest and care for your prospects, leading to a natural and effective shift in their perception of your product or service.


  • Debbie Bender

    Armed with research from her academic and practical experience, Debbie Bender has worked with hundreds of Fortune 500-100 companies to develop performance improvement initiatives, including competency studies, onboarding programs, playbooks and training, change management plans and ongoing training initiatives. She has also trained and coached thousands of sales professionals helping and supporting them as they apply research-backed frameworks, tools and techniques to improve their overall sales performance.

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