Identify a Customer's Needs for Better SalesA customer's needs and buying habits are often a mystery to sales teams, and the businesses they represent. But a recent study from the Rain Group identifies 10 things most customers want—a useful guide shared by Geoffrey James, contributor to Inc.

Businesses striving to meet a customer's needs must be very good at the following actions and processes.

 Offer Fresh Ideas to Customers

Customers wouldn’t need to purchase your solutions to their problems if they could come up with them on their own.

When they look to your business, it’s because they hope they’ll benefit from your fresh perspective. When you think about a customer's needs from that perspective, the fresh ideas funnel begins to flow.

 A Willingness to Collaborate

Customers are looking for a partner to help them achieve a goal. They’re not looking for someone to sell to them.

Be responsive to their concerns, and willing to work together on solutions. “Ideally, customers want you to be integral to their success,” James writes.

Be Confident You’ll Get Results

Unless you truly believe what you have to offer will help them reach their goal, customers won’t want what you’re selling. Part of your challenge is persuading them with the utmost confidence in your product or solution.

“You must make your confidence contagious.”

Listen to a Customer's Needs

Customers can tell when you’re selling  instead of listening.

It’s difficult to shut off your “inner-voice” and discard your well-crafted sales pitch, but unless you show that it’s all about them, customers will turn away.

Listen to a customer's needs and sales will happen...more quickly than anticipated.

Understand Everything About Customers

Your job is to understand a customer's needs often transcend the most immediate problem they face. Connect with them in a comprehensive way, not merely the narrow buy-and-sell formula.

As James says, customers must “understand how buying from you will satisfy their personal needs, such as career advancement and security.”

Help Customers Minimize Risk

When customers decide to purchase your product or service, they’re taking a conscious risk. Address this by clearly identifying what might go wrong, and how you’re prepared to ensure the problem won’t happen again.

Offer a “Compelling Solution”

Yes, customers continue to want a workable solution to their problem. But as James notes, “this is the ‘price of entry’ and not enough, by itself, to win in a competitive sales situation.”

Be Upfront About the Sales Process

The issues that matter most to customers, such as price, discounts, total cost, and add-on options, should be discussed in “plain and simple language.”

What does the potential purchase involve? How will it take place?

Customers do not want to be surprised by last-minute upsells.

Make a Personal Connection

A sale won’t happen if the two people involved don’t connect on a personal level.

The old truism still holds: Customers would rather buy from someone they like and trust.

Provide Value Unmatched

Customers will compare the price of your product with what your competitors offer. Unless they can see how the value of your offering is what sets it apart, they will likely buy elsewhere.

Identifying these ten qualities is a good first step. Becoming superlative at them is the necessary next step.

Which of your customer's needs can you identify?