Graham McGregor: Help your customers get what they really want

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Marketing consultant Graham McGregor on why you should be a 'sales detective' and find out what your customers really want...

One of the greatest secrets of success in selling is this one:

"Show people what they want most, and they will move heaven and earth to get it".

Frank Bettger in his book "How I raised myself from failure to success in selling" gives a great example of how to use this secret.

Frank Bettger was a life insurance salesman back in the 1940's. He called on a successful businessman named Scott and asked him for 5 minutes of his time. Frank promised to leave after 5 minutes unless he was asked to stay longer.

Scott agreed to see Frank but told him he was wasting his time as he was 63 years old and had long quit buying life insurance. Scott explained that his children were all grown up, his wife was well fixed with paid-up life insurance, his business was well covered, and his estate plan and will were firmly in place.

That would have been enough to send most life insurance sales people packing but not Frank Bettger.

He asked his prospect the following question.

"Mr Scott, a man who has been as successful as you must surely have some interests outside of your family and your business."

Frank had done his homework and knew that Mr Scott was a very generous man who had often given large amounts of money to worthy causes.

"Perhaps a hospital, religious organisation, missionary organisation ..."
Frank listed a few that Mr Scott had supported.

"Did you ever consider that when you die your support will be withdrawn? Wouldn't this loss seriously handicap or even mean the stopping of some splendid work?"

Frank then looked at his watch and stopped talking.

Mr Scott immediately invited Frank to continue so Frank asked some questions.

He quickly discovered that the dearest thing to Mr Scott was three missionary teams he supported in South America. He also learned that one of those teams was Mr Scott's son and daughter and that he was planning to visit their work shortly.

"Mr Scott", Frank asked finally, "When you go to South America wouldn't you be happy to tell your son and his little family that you have just completed arrangements so that, if anything ever happens to you, a cheque will come to them every month, so their work may continue? And wouldn't you like to write a letter to the other two missionaries, giving them the same message?"

There was a long silence and Mr Scott thanked Frank for helping him discover a serious oversight in his planning. Frank had shown Mr Scott that what he truly wanted was for the missionary work to continue. After tying down the sale Frank walked out of that office with a cheque for $9,000. And remember that this was back in the 1940's when $9,000 was a whopping insurance premium!

Frank had helped his customer to get he really wanted.

The way you help the customer to get what they want is simple.

You ask intelligent questions and listen! (Read my article on 'Asking Expensive Questions' for some helpful ideas on how to do this.)

When you ask good questions and listen, you'll often be surprised at what your customers really want. (And you might discover that your product or service could be exactly what they need to help them get it.)

Action Step:

Write down 20 possible outcomes that your product or service could potentially help your customer to achieve. Explain some of these in your sales presentations this week and notice what happens.

"You can get anything you want in life by helping enough other people get what they want" Zig Ziglar

Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant and the creator of the 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage Report.' (This is free and has now been read by business owners from 11 countries.) You can email Graham on

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 30 May 2017 13:33:11 Processing Time: 684ms