Make 2016 Your Best Year Ever

January 6, 2016 Updated: April 24, 2016

As many business people commit to worthy-sounding New Year’s resolutions, here are some suggestions to increase the probability that 2016 will be a great year for you and your organization.

We suggest making this a year of sales. Yes, sales! We are not referring to typical pitches and pushing unwanted or unneeded products on clients. Most sales pitches sound the same and are often less than persuasive.

It’s a confusing world for customers. Everyone says they have “unique” solutions and can “solve” the customer’s problems. Resolve to shift from operating in a problem-solving (solution-selling) mode to becoming a genuine sustaining resource for clients.

This is not as simple as it sounds. It requires a change in thinking about your relationship with your customers and the contributions you can make to their organizations.


Listen for Client Needs and Aspirations

In your conversations with current and prospective clients, move beyond “solutions” and delve into ways to anticipate their needs and aspirations. Include listening for what each individual customer wants and needs. Do not ask, “What is important to you?” Instead, listen for their motives and desires.

As the conversation unfolds, keep asking yourself: “What is it like to be them? What is truly important to them? What do they want to create for themselves in the coming year?” Then create a mental picture of them achieving their aspirations.

Shift from operating in a problem-solving (solution-selling) mode to becoming a genuine resource for clients.

Aspirations are typically in the conversation, but we often miss them by concentrating only on “problems” or superficial needs.

Show and express a genuine interest. Once you get a sense of what is personally important to your customer, feed it back as a summary and to confirm your listening.

For example, you may ask, “Do I have that right?” If they say, “Not really,” then you can ask clarification questions to get a clearer picture of their desired future and individual aspirations.


Adjust Your Offering to Fit the Client

It is challenging to realize that what we offer to clients is often misaligned with what they truly want. Commit to adjusting your offering to better align with what you hear. The “fit” between your offering and what a prospective client wants will become more clear as you increase your competence in this higher level of selling.

Concentrate on persuading them of the “fit” rather than simple features and benefits. This creates, in their mind, a unique space for you and your organization. Once the fit is obvious and the client sees that you “get” them and their situation, doing business with you is an obvious choice and requires little, if any, traditional “pitching.”


Resolve to Ask Before Telling

While being friendly is important, your relationship with future clients goes beyond just having them like you. It enters the rarefied atmosphere of a trusted adviser.

Find ways to engage in conversations about their future before engaging in product-peddling sales pitches. Leave the tablet in the car on your first visit. The moment you roll out slides you have switched into a “pitch” mode and will create resistance and objections.

Help customers buy and they will be pleasantly surprised and may become a long-term, valued client. And you may be surprised at how little, if any, persuasion is required on your part.

When you see your customers through their eyes, you help them buy and differentiate yourself from the competition while minimizing price and specification objections.

Our commitment for the New Year is to genuinely provide our clients with appropriate information to assist them in making 2016 a prosperous and happy new year for both of us!

Dave Mather is a 40-year veteran business coach. His columns can be read at