I'm a big fan of asking customers what they want.
But there's one important caveat to that: It's great to ask customers what they want when you're designing your product or service.
But if you ask them what they want in a sales conversation, it can sometimes go south...fast.
That's why I never do that.
Aside from figuring out their GOAL outcome, I don't ask what they want because, frankly, I should know already.
In fact, I'm not even nice when I'm in sales mode. Instead, I confidently tell them exactly what they need. I tell them exactly why they need it. And I tell them that I'm the best person on this earth to give that thing to them.
When people are buying, they lock into their fight-or-flight system. They have doubts -- they doubt whether your solution is right for them, whether it's the right price, and whether you're trustworthy at all.
That's why I don't give them wishy-washy questions or answers. I tell them, "Look, here's where you're at, here's where you want to go, and here's what I'm going to do to help you get there. Let's start."
It's not just the confident message that matters - it's the tone you use as well.
The super-nice salesperson is trying to tell us something. But our doctor isn't. When our doctor comes in, with that stern and knowledgeable tone, we listen to every word. If they tried to butter us up, that's probably a bad sign!
It's not unlike dog training. If you have a dog, you might know Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer. His whole thing is "calm assertive." When you're calm and assertive, the animal just falls into line naturally.
Customers are much the same - we're animals, after all. So the next time you're selling, be calm and assertive. Don't smile too much, or try to be nice or cute. Your customer wants to solve their problem. Give them the confident look and tone that makes them feel comfortable that YOU are the right solution for them.
They're already doubtful. If your confidence overcomes their doubt, you've won. Otherwise your sale will go to the dogs.