The art of sales is to be able to match what your client wants with what you are selling. To be able to do that requires being able to see things from your clients perspective.

Indeed the mantra of sales people is WIIFM (pronounced WIFF ‘EM – as in WIFF THEM!). It stands for What’s in it for me? And it’s a simple reminder to see things from the other persons point of view.

But how do you do this?

Top sales people do it instinctively. Others need to work at it – the ability to change perspective is a skill that develops with practice. Below I share some of the techniques I use with clients to help them change to the perspective of their ideal clients.

I use storytelling all the time when working with clients. It’s a fast and effective way to help people see things from their clients perspective. The trick is to focus on your clients story rather than your own.

When you look back at your success stories, your story is about how you did some excellent work and got fantastic results. Your client’s story, however, is totally different. It’s about the drama that was going on for them before they started talking to you about their problems. Telling the story from their perspective will help you gain valuable insights about their pain and why they decided to start working with you.

Profiling is what marketing people love to do. They come up with all sorts of different ways to segment a market. I am sure you have heard of names like YUPPIES (Young upwardly mobile professionals) and DINKIES (Dual Income no kids). These are examples of profiling and it helps marketeers to understand the perspective of the different profiles.

I use my own profiling technique with clients to help them understand why different clients buy. I call it Customer Archetypes and you basically build profiles based on primary buying motivation. There are always 5 or 6 and a good test is being able to assign specific client names to each profile. The great thing about profiling is the more you do it and relate it to existing clients, the easier it becomes to understand their perspective.

Customer hats
This is a technique I use, based on Eduard de Bono’s excellent book ‘Six Thinking Hats’. Essentially you have 6 different customer hats representing 6 different Customer Archetypes. Use the Customer Archetypes technique to define different profiles and then assign a hat to each archetype. When you put a certain hat on you switch your thinking to the perspective of that Customer Archetype.

The Customer Hats exercise provides powerful insights as to the perspective of clients with a particular problem. The idea is that when you put on your customer hat you begin to act and speak as if you were that type of customer. You get to understand more about their problem and how it makes them feel. The exercise is easier done with a partner but you can do it armed with a tape recorder.

If all else fails then ask! Seriously though, talking to your clients and taking time to get to know them is the ideal way to better understand things from their perspective. The more clients and prospects you speak to the easier it is to build up of a picture of their world. This is where listening and asking good questions really pays off.

You want to focus on finding out what is Important to them and why it’s important to them. And ask them to share their stories. People give away a lot of information about their perspective when they share their stories. It’s also easier to imagine what its like being someone else by listening to their stories and anecdotes.

I hope you find the above techniques useful. They are all included in my book ‘The Accidental Salesman Networking Survival Guide’ with detailed exercises. If you have some other ones you use then feel free to share them in the comments box below.