Stop Pitching Clients And Start Listening To Them

Don’t you hate trying to convince someone to see things your way?

Politics, religion, current events…it’s really hard to discuss a heated topic with someone who has the opposite opinion. As soon as you start arguing your point, it can feel like a losing battle.

The same thing happens when you’re trying to close a deal.

Have you ever tried to convince someone to buy your product or use your service, but they just aren’t interested? You can tell them again and again about the benefits you’re offering, but it doesn’t matter. They’ve already decided. Their mind is closed off.

I recently read a great book called “The Secret of Selling Anything” by Harry Browne that explores this phenomenon.

According to the book, there’s no such thing as convincing a buyer. Buyers already see things a certain way, and they aren’t likely to change their minds. It’s up to you to figure out their unique point of view — what REALLY motivates them — and adjust your approach accordingly.

Because, let’s face it, you can’t close a sale unless you understand your buyer. Sales pitches are like baseball pitches: Every batter is different, so every pitch has to be different. You have to constantly adjust your game.

A good example: If your client believes the world is flat, don’t waste your time trying to convince them that the world is round. Save that pitch for someone else! Instead, show them how your product will keep them from falling off that pesky edge of the earth.

Another example: Let’s say your product solves four problems: A, B, C and D. Your buyer is only motivated to solve problems A and B. But your entire sales pitch focuses on solving problems C and D. Even though the product is right, you’re selling it wrong.

The tricky part is figuring out what motivates your buyer. Many times, even your buyer doesn’t know! But there’s a way to help them figure it out, and once you do, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what they want and how to deliver it.

The key to cracking the motivation code is actually really simple: You stop pitching and start listening.

When you’re talking with a new prospect, it’s tempting to ramble on and on about your product or service. Resist that temptation! Ask questions instead, and let them do all the talking.

You’ll never go wrong with broad, open-ended questions like “What’s the biggest issue in your business right now?” or “Tell me a little about the problems you’re facing.” You’ll get 100x more valuable information and psychological insight than you will from launching into your sales pitch without any background information.

Then, keep the conversation going with follow-up emails.

Whatever you do, DON’T follow up with “I’m just following up to see if you’re ready to buy my product.” This is dangerous because it’s a yes or no question, which is extremely limiting. If their answer is “No, we’re not ready to buy,” the conversation stops dead in its tracks. And the chances are really slim that the answer is “Yes, we’re ready to buy right now!”

So, what do you do? Keep talking about your clients’ problems or issues. “Hey, I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about [that thing we were talking about]” is a way smarter approach. It keeps your clients talking, and as long as they’re talking, your services are still on the table.

One thing you can’t do during this process is fake it. You have to be really invested in your clients’ success and truly interested in their problems if you’re going to suss out their motivations. You have to be empathetic, authentic and helpful at all times. Don’t look at it as playing mind games…think of it as building a trusting relationship.

Then, when you figure out your client’s perspective and motivation, you can start telling them about your product or service.

Talk about the stuff you know they’re interested in, and leave the other stuff out. If they’re super focused on one problem, tell them how you’re going to help them fix it. If they have dozens of problems, let them know that your product handles all of them. This is your opportunity to connect the dots between what motivates your clients and what you’re selling.

And what if you CAN’T help with their issues? If you’re doing a good job being empathetic and helpful, you’ll go the extra mile and point them toward a better solution. Be blunt and upfront about it, and don’t worry about the lost sale. It’s a sign of a smart freelancer / consultant / salesperson when you’re willing to forgo a sale because it’s a bad fit. Your client might be so impressed that they recommend you to someone else. It’s good business karma.

When you stop pitching and start listening, amazing things will happen!

Never miss an another opportunity to uncover your clients’ motivation with easy email follow-up reminders from Click here to sign up now.

Published by

Matt McCormick

Matt is the host of "7 Minute Sales" - a podcast from the perspective of a developer-founder who is learning to sell and market more effectively. Follow my journey and lessons learned at Matt is also the founder of - A Better Follow Up System for Gmail.