It's a little corny, but here goes. If you want to be terrific, be specific.

Sellers in our industry are plenty smart and deeply articulate. They can talk for minutes on end about technology, market position, programs and tactics. And they can do it all with a high degree of specificity. So why, then, does it all get so soft and shallow when we talk about our customers and their plans and problems?

Ask the average seller to tell you about their company and you'll hear volumes. But ask about the objectives of the customer and you hear thin, tactical terms like lead generation, improved ROI and the perennially meaningless branding. Most of us will grab the first and most simplistic description of client needs we're given and then immediately start layering on tons of information, products, features and statistics. It's as if we're worried about tarrying too long on the client stuff, lest we miss the chance to tell our whole story in its enormity.

If you want to be terrific, be specific.

The reps who stand out, the ones who find a permanent place in the lives of their clients, don't rush through the client agenda. Rather than accept a softball like branding or storytelling, they study the situation and talk specifically about exactly that part of the client's story that needs to be told - and to whom. When they hear about a need to move product, to encourage test-drives or to put butts in seats, they slow down and ask why these objectives are not being achieved. By getting very specific about the client need, they identify the interim tasks and processes they can help improve.

We all say we want to be more consultative in our approach to sales. What we don't realize is that the difference between a thoughtful consultant and an average transactional seller is really quite simple: the consultant just spends more time with the problem. When a customer feels like their business and success are being fully analyzed and considered, they feel heard and understood. And when they feel heard and understood, they're fully prepared to accept and support your solutions.

If you want to be terrific, be specific.