Think Like Your Customer

Effective selling means understanding what people want to know rather than just what you want to tell them.


Buyer at a Trade Show


Recently, an artist debuted a new series of exciting large-format images, lit from behind on wall panels. He felt these would be perfect for a corporate market, possibly for clubs or restaurants. He was ready to promote his work, and eager to get started.

But was he really prepared? Did he have the answer to these concerns that would probably come up in discussions with prospects:

  • How are the panels shipped, and at what cost?
  • How are they installed, and who will install them?
  • What is the electricity cost per month of each panel?
  • Who will repair them if they become damaged or stop functioning?
  • What type of maintenance do they require?
  • How long are they expected to last?

These questions stopped the artist in his tracks. He hadn’t been thinking like his prospective customers, and he didn’t have the answers. He would need to do research and make some phone calls. He would have to think carefully about presenting his new series in a way that would tell his customers what they needed to know in order to make an informed buying decision.

Even if you don’t make art or craft that is this complex, have you been thinking like your customers? Concerns like shipping cost, breakage, washing instructions, or the ability to make a return are often on their minds. These are called “objections” and your customer may not even mention them to you.

Don’t lose sales because you are busy telling people what you want them to know instead of considering their side of the equation. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes to understand how they feel, what is making them hesitate to buy, and what you can offer to resolve this problem.

Making a purchase is an emotional decision, and trust is a huge part of saying “yes” to a sale. When you take the time to “think like your customer” you can head off problems, and be prepared to discuss those issues that are holding up the sale in a consultative way which builds that trust with your customer.

Make a list of questions and concerns that buyers might have about your work. You will know some of them because they have come up in conversations before. Brainstorm to make a list of every possible objection, and then carefully consider how you might resolve them before they happen.

Then, make a list of benefits for every item in your line, and be able to talk about those as well as the drawbacks that cause objections. Part of your job is to help buyers experience owning your work before they purchase by addressing their concerns, and thinking like the customer.


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  1. This is great advice and applicable to any media. I now make jewellery and employ just about every one of the ideas you spoke about when designing, constructing and selling my pieces. I also listen very carefully when people voice objections: either I can counter them right away, or I incorporate my own knowledge of common objections into my designs. I also have on hand examples of poor, good and great examples of beads to show their quality and explain my prices. In the end, people almost always are willing to pay the higher price for better quality, and definitely when it comes to gifts. In almost every case, once they understand why something costs more, that it’s not just a money-grab and trying to put one over on them, they’re grateful to learn.

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