Copyright © 2005 Don Maruska

Customers want to buy results.  Many businesses lose sales because they focus on the tools they sell rather than the benefits that they deliver.

For example, Steve, an expert attorney, bemoaned the low percentage of prospects that became clients.  “I don’t understand it,” he said.  “My colleagues recognize me as a leader in the profession.  So, why don’t more prospective clients sign up?  What’s the problem?”

When I asked Steve to describe an initial consultation with a prospective client, he laid out the details of an hour and a half discussion of the specialized legal forms and techniques that he uses.  In an effort to demonstrate his expertise, he overwhelmed his prospects with information.  They saw all of his tools, and many became paralyzed in the details.

Whether you are selling professional services like Steve or products, you can boost your sales with a few key steps.

  • Clarify what your customers hope to accomplish.

Shift from talking about what you offer to finding out what your customers truly need.  This is deeper than asking them what they want because that question prompts them to offer their own conceptions of potential solutions.  You have better prospects of making a sale and selling more in the future when you probe more deeply into what the prospects hope to achieve and why it is important to them.

When Steve asked prospective clients what they hoped to achieve, two important advantages immediately occurred.  First, it shifted the discussion from problems to opportunities.  People became more open and interested.  They started to tell Steve, “Thanks for listening and hearing what’s important to me.”  Second, knowing what his clients truly sought, Steve more effectively identified the appropriate approaches and tools to serve them.

  • Package solutions for your customers.

Sell solutions with defined benefits and great value for your customers.  For example, instead of selling estate planning and trusts (tools), Steve sold a wealth preservation package (benefits).  With a set price and clear solutions, Steve showed prospective clients how his services offered a great return on investment.  Also, with packaged solutions (and options to meet special needs), attorneys and paralegals in the firm found it easier to complete the work.  More clients signed up, and he enjoyed his practice more.

  • Explain why your solutions deliver distinctive value.

It’s not enough, however, to sell solutions and value.  You need to convince your prospective customers that you provide distinctive value.  Otherwise, they’ll shop around, and you’ll lose the sale.

Steve highlighted how his solutions required special knowledge that he, as a leader in the field, had acquired.  He also emphasized the investment in effective procedures to ensure that attorneys throughout the firm applied these best practices.  Finally, he underscored the high number of satisfied clients that his firm served and how this volume translated into efficiency and value for them.

These strategies enabled Steve to increase both the number of clients and their profitability.

Think about your business’ distinctive value and how you can translate it into packages that address your prospective customers’ needs.  You’ll gain more customers, become more efficient, and enjoy more profits.


Don Maruska is a business coach and author of  “How Great Decisions Get Made—10 Easy Steps for Reaching Agreement on Even the Toughest Issues.”   He can be reached at his office in Morro Bay 772-4667 or by e-mail at