Diagnose before you prescribe
Think about the last purchase you made where you felt you had a positive experience with the salesperson. Did the salesperson introduce themselves and immediately tell you what they thought you needed? Or did they ask you questions to better understand your situation and accurately diagnose your needs?
Source: Sales consultant Nick Maslanka
Here is a good way to test yourself to see if you understand your customer's real problems. Think of a specific opportunity you are working on and name two or three challenges that your prospect wants your capabilities to help them resolve. In most cases, this is the easy part.
Now comes the hard part. Ask yourself, "What bad thing will continue to happen if they don't do business with us?" It could be that their revenue won't grow, they will lose market share, miss a goal, etc. Obviously, it varies based on product or service.
But if you can't answer the question, chances are your prospect can't either.
The basic principle here is to diagnose before you prescribe. When you can answer the question, "What bad thing will continue to happen if they don't do business with us?", you are ready to provide your prospect with a recommended solution. Challenge yourself to answer that question for your clients. They will reward you with their business.