That is the question on every customer’s mind. It is the final determiner of every buying decision. Unless you are talking to the owner of a company, nobody cares deeply about dollars saved or productivity improvements. What most corporate buyers really want to know is, “How will I be better off if I bring this solution to my employer?”

More than 90 percent of sales calls stop short of uncovering the customer’s personal payoff.

You may have heard that customers buy for emotional reasons, then justify their decisions with logic. It’s true. And those emotional reasons have to do with the satisfaction of personal needs. To make a sale, you must be able to offer a solution with a personal payoff to the customer. You can’t do that until you understand what the personal payoff would be. Your challenge is to uncover and agree upon the customer’s personal needs—and what kind of solution would satisfy them.

A few examples of personal needs: get a promotion or a raise; look good to one’s bosses or peers; be perceived as a can-do individual who gets things done.

Here’s how to find out about gut-level issues like that:

While you’re asking questions to uncover needs that might be served by your products’ features and benefits, don’t stop when you have found a business need—a way you could save time or money for the company, for example. Follow up with two questions to identify the customer’s personal needs:

“What will it mean to you if this solution is implemented?”

“What are the consequences to you if this problem isn’t solved?”

Questions like these help you discover what the implications of your solution will be for the person you are calling on. Action Selling ® calls them “Leverage Questions”—because with the right lever in the right spot, you can move the world. With questions that encourage customers to talk openly about the personal needs your solution must satisfy, you can tie your solution to the hot-button emotional benefits that will win the sale.

Action Selling ® In Action

“Customers always start out by saying that price is the most important factor in their buying decision,” says Joy Martin, sales manager for Corporate Express in Idaho. “I hate to sell on price because that is the easiest way for a competitor to take away my business.”

Selling on price is almost always a loser’s game. To avoid it, find the real reasons why the customer will consider your company and product. When you understand how the customer will be better off personally, you are then able to explain how you, your company, and your product represent a valuable solution that addresses the customer’s real buying criteria. This takes the pressure off the price decision.

“When I follow the 9 Acts of the Action Selling ® process during a sales call, price is literally the last thing discussed,” Martin says. With a closing ratio of nearly 95 percent at solid margins, she is obviously hitting the right targets—the personal payoffs for every customer.