Sales people often get a bad rap for being, well…liars.

Even within our own organizations, people on the development and business sides of the house think we over-promise to our prospects and clients.

Of course there is an enormous temptation to tell people what they want to hear – but if what they want to hear is not true, you’d best not tell them that it is.  There is, in fact, a better way.

All prospects (indeed all people) have what’s called a “hierarchy of needs.”  For all of us, the first element in that hierarchy is food and water.  Then comes shelter, safety, friendship, self-esteem, etc.

You can’t really skip over any of these stages and be successful.  If you don’t have food and water, the most beautiful house in the world won’t do you much good.

For a prospective customer, you can also identify a hierarchy of needs.  Let’s use the example of a business that is looking for new windows.

You can identify (for example) that their core need is to stop wasting money and energy with their existing un-insulated windows.  Pretty latches, fancy frames, and interesting color schemes may all be great – but the primary need is a window that will not cause them to heat and air-condition the outdoors.

Your competitors may try to distract them with talk of argon gas vs. Low-E coatings, vinyl vs. fiberglass, integral lift rails, and balance covers.  You may have some, but not all of those options.  And you may have a few that the other guys don’t.  The important thing is to keep the customer’s eye on the ball.  Remember, first, you must have food and water.  Whoever can reliably bring you that is the partner you are most likely to choose.