The (Most) Important Thing In Sales

Recently I was asked a question regarding the most important factor in making sales. 

When it comes to the topic of sales, everyone is constantly looking for ways to make it easier to handle objections and close more sales. I have an entire course on different closes and handling objections – check it out. 

Naturally, salespeople want to know what one thing they could do to improve their closing ratio.

So the question that I was asked was, “what is the most important thing in sales?”

While there are many important things to be good at sales, the most important one is UNDERSTANDING your prospect.
There are many, many aspects to understanding your prospect. For example, if the prospect is giving you an objection and you fail to dig deeper to understand the real reason behind the objection, you’re not going to close the sale. Why?
Because you simply went with what they were saying without attempting to understand why they would feel a certain way.

That’s just one example.

Let’s look at three important reasons you need to work on understanding your prospects in order to make more sales.

Three reasons you need to work on understanding your prospect

1. The trust factor is built through feeling understood

If you don’t have rapport with a client, you’re most likely not going to make a sale.

Rapport is built within just a few minutes of talking to a prospect. But skipping this step will cost you a lot.

You’ve probably heard that a prospect needs to know, like and trust you in order to do business with you.

This is not entirely true. If you think about it, you’ve done business with a lot of people that you didn’t necessarily know and like that much. Right? (Just think about the number of groceries you’ve bought without needing to like and know the people selling them!)

So you don’t necessarily need to “like and know” someone to buy from them.

However, you do need to trust that their product or service is going to improve your life.

Trust grows when there is a feeling of being understood.

So how can you get better at building trust with a potential client to understand them better?


  • Spend a few minutes talking about things that interest them and build rapport. This step cannot be missed. People that are super goal-oriented sometimes skip this because they want to get to the reason they are talking to this person in the first place. But if you do this, you’ll miss a lot of sales.
  • Search for things that you might have in common. This probably seems like common sense. However, it’s not done as much as you think. When we meet someone that has similar experiences as we, there is an instant level of mutual understanding between us, right?
    Same goes for your potential client. But don’t make things up. Be as authentic and real about these things as you can be because otherwise it won’t be effective and you’ll come across as untrustworthy.

2. Understanding the prospect helps you discover their real need

If you don’t listen to understand, you will often miss what a prospect is actually saying to you.

In other words, you’ve got to get good at listening between the lines.

Is what they are saying actually what they mean?

Do you know what they are saying or is they’re understanding around a certain topic limited?

Can you pick up their REAL need?

Sometimes a prospect doesn’t exactly know what they need or want. Being able to see past what they are saying in order to truly help them is going to be one of your greatest powers as a salesperson. And your clients are going to thank you for it if you do it in a way that benefits them.

So how can you better understand a need of the prospect?

  •  Ask more questions. We all know the power of asking great questions. When it comes to understanding a prospect’s needs, it is no different. Asking the right questions will uncover the true needs and wants of a prospect. This includes asking the hard questions. It’s true that very often the salesperson that asks the tough questions is also the one making the most sales.
  • Don’t always agree. The old-school sales training tells you to “always stay in agreement” with a prospect. This advice, however, is outdated and not helpful in gaining trust with a prospect. You would be lying to always agree with what they are saying.

There are many circumstances where a potential client is not right. So agreeing with him or her would be wrong.
That being said, make sure that you disagree in a polite and professional manner. There are ways to disagree without being disagreeable. And when you disagree, have arguments to back up why you believe the way you do.

3. Understanding help you overcome the real objections

If you don’t have the ability to understand a prospect, you will rarely get past any objections.


Because you will believe what they are saying without searching for the REAL reason that they are objecting your offer.

See, people will often tell you why they are not ready to purchase something by giving you a reason that is not really the reason at all.

When you have built rapport and trust with a prospect, you will be able to see that what they are saying is actually not the real truth (even though they might insist on it).

If you know this, you will be able to keep pushing through until you have arrived at the real reason a prospect is not ready to buy. Trust me, they will thank you for it later.

How can you use understanding a prospect to help you get past objections?

  • Use terminology, such as, “other than the fact that you (insert their initial objection), is there any other reason you wouldn’t be able to buy (insert product or service) today?”
    Your goal is to get to the bottom of their real problem and by asking this question, they will reveal it to you.
  •  Don’t shy away immediately when objections arise. It is natural to want to object or complain about spending money. Just because you say, “oh, that’s expensive”, doesn’t automatically mean that you are not going to buy it, right? We often don’t like the price of an item, yet purchase it anyway. 

Same is true with your prospect. Don’t back down immediately when objections arise. Understand the prospect and stick with them long enough to give them a chance to come through.

How to get better at understanding your prospects

One of the ways to get better at understanding prospects is to practice understanding the people around you.

You can do this by asking questions and listening to hear the true answer.

Make it a habit to observe tonality, body language and gestures. Some people call this emotional intelligence.

You can improve your emotional intelligence by becoming an observer.

With an increased ability to understand your prospects, you are more likely to close sales. This is why I consider ‘understanding the prospect” the most important thing in sales.

Related Questions

1. How can I improve my communication skills in sales?

  • Practice observing body language and voice inflections when a prospect is talking to you.
  • Listen better. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, listen to understand the prospect as he or she is talking
  • Take notes as a prospect is speaking. Writing down the key things they say will help you remember and understand them better.
  •  Repeat to a prospect what you heard them say. This not only confirms that you understand them but it also ensures that what they said is really what they mean
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say. This may sound like common sense, but don’t sugar coat things that need to be said to a prospect. The age of sleazy selling is long gone. Be real, open and honest. But still use professional and respectful language at the same time.
  • Take time to train in sales every day. Learn what it takes to overcome objections and close more sales.