I was reading an article the other day discussing how to “elevate your game” to top your business competitors. Like so many others, the article overlooked the crucial point of focusing on your customers.

I always ask clients, “What’s in it for the customer?” Most of the time their response is focused on their particular product or service, how awesome it is, how it will disrupt the market, how it will make them a rockstar, (insert other trendy buzzword here) blah, blah, blah…

But it’s not about what you are selling or providing, it’s about serving the need the customer has – scratching their proverbial itch. And many times that itch isn’t a known or universal among your markets.

Example: Bob is selling a unique, disruptive, make-you-a-rockstar item that will help Gloria’s business explode with productivity. But Gloria isn’t as concerned with becoming a rock star millionaire. She would simply like to cut back on her weekend hours so she could go to one of her kids’ soccer games before the season is over.

The point: What you are selling isn’t necessarily what your customer is buying – at least not in the sense of the obvious purpose it may serve. Perhaps maybe Bob should stop trying to sell Gloria a rockstar potion and show her how his product can help her get to the soccer game once in a while. Or as Forbes contributor Larry Myler puts it,” stop selling and start solving.

(Granted, this is more of a personal pain point than a business one, but the key is to look at things from the perspective of your customer, not your own.)

This approach requires work – a lot of work. You know your product; you have your elevator speech down cold and can whip out your PowerPoint demo slides at a moment’s notice. But getting to know your individual customers’ pain points requires dialogue and thought beyond the memorized sales pitch.

As the famous philosopher, poet and assistant greenskeeper Carl Spackler once said:

“I got to get into this dude’s pelt and crawl around for a few days…”

Take the time to get to know your customers on an individual level if you can. Understand their business and what their unique pain points are. They’ll appreciate the effort and if you follow-up the sale with great customer service they will be a long-term customer.

Don’t worry about crushing your competition, take care of your customers. Do that and they will crush your competition for you.