Getting Better Buy-in | Discover What Your Customer Really Needs


Dear Paul,

One of my challenges is getting better buy-in from my customers. How do I make my presentations more impactful in order to discover what my customer really needs?

Several times a week, I host “lunch and learns” at various client locations. During these 30-45 minute sessions, held over the lunch hour, I give a presentation about my company’s products.

However, as much as I try to ask thought-provoking questions and lead interesting discussions, I feel that my efforts fall short. Too often they are more interested in the menu than in what I am trying to convey. I want to get better buy-in.

Out to Lunch

Dear Out to Lunch,

I always tell salespeople that they need to make their presentations about the customers, not the products. The same is true in your case. It’s difficult to get people to open up and share their thoughts in a group setting. Too often there is the fear of saying the wrong thing, or worrying about the awkwardness when disagreeing with a boss or peer.  The way to get around this problem is to open up the dialogue before your presentation.

I’d like to borrow a tactic from one of my favorite teachers and speakers, Steven Covey. In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he recommends “Seek first to understand before being understood.”

Reach out to your primary contact

When you set up the “lunch and learn,” reach out to your primary contact and say something like,

“I’m glad to hear we are going to do this presentation on the 24th. I want to make sure that what I put together for this group is meaningful and impactful. So that I can make sure my presentation is customized to your team’s needs, would you please share with me two or three individuals that I may contact beforehand, in order to get their input?”

If your primary contact seems to be hesitant at first, you can add,

“I really want to understand and be attentive to what is important to you and your team.

Listen, learn, discover what’s important – What are your customer’s goals, challenges and issues?

Once you get the names of these two or three individuals, call them and ask questions about the goals, challenges, and other issues they are facing. Most likely, the individuals who are referred to you will be the most progressive and influential participants of the group. Vital information is accessed that you would never attain in a group setting. Plus you’re building meaningful relationships now, rather than attempting to do so in a room full of people.

As a result…

  1. Your presentations will be much more interesting.
  2. You will have a better understanding of your customer’s needs and challenges.
  3. You will have greater buy-in from your audience.

It’s a Win-Win-Win Situation!

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Paul Cherry

For over two decades, sales expert and author PAUL CHERRY has helped B2B sales professionals close more deals in all major industries. As a recognized thought leader in customer engagement strategies, Paul Cherry has been featured in more than 250 publications, including Investor’s Business Daily, Selling Power, Inc., Sales & Marketing Management, The Kiplinger Letter, and Salesforce.

Performance Based Results

Paul Cherry is the president of Performance Based Results. PBR delivers intense, customized sales team training programs and sales management coaching to companies throughout North America. Paul has worked with more than 1,200 organizations, including 175 of the Fortune 500, plus more than a thousand entrepreneurial, small to mid-sized, cutting-edge businesses looking to dominate their niche markets. Clients typically get 7 times their return-on-investment (ROI) or better.

Questions That Sell

Paul Cherry’s top-rated bestseller, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants (AMACOM) has been listed on BookAuthority’s “100 Best Sales Books of All Time” and has been published in four languages. He is also the author of Questions That Get Results (Wiley) and The Ultimate Sales Pro (HarperCollins Leadership).