12/19/2014 06:05 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Is Keeping You Up At Night?

2014-12-19-lyingawake.jpegSometimes I ask the question. Other times, I don't ask it outright. But one thing is for sure, everytime I am with a customer, I am listening for the answer to this question:

What is keeping you up at night?

Your customer asked for a meeting and wants to learn about your products and services. Or maybe you arranged the meeting to present and discuss a particular solution. There is a purpose to the meeting. There has to be. But don't let that be the only objective.

Leave the meeting understanding what is going on within your customer's business now. Tactically, what issues are they facing?

This is where the gems are buried.

After all, if you can help your customer address issues that are top-of-mind for them right now, what better way to add value, to prove yourself?

My background is the Logistics industry. In Logistics, we sell solutions. We bundle our products to create solutions that add accretive value. We can talk solutions all day long. But when we really listen to the tactical issues our customers are facing right now, that is when we can really help them.

And here is the kicker. Even though these issues are top-of-mind for your customer, they rarely front up to you with them. Either because the meeting isn't specifically about that topic, or because the conversation hasn't gone there.

Make the conversation go there!

How you do it is more art than science. It is about listening, about catching the nuance and then asking that question that breaks the silence wide open.

Listen! Every leader has those pressing issues that are occupying their mind. Are you that person that is there, at the right place, at the right time? It is not a matter of coincidence. It is about the effort and the objective you set.

PS - Asking yourself that question once in a while doesn't hurt either!