There are a million things salespeople need to do to get a prospect’s attention and make the sale.

But there is one that is far more important than any of the others. What is it?

It’s knowing—ahead of time—which problems your prospects are struggling with.

I’m constantly amazed  at how often salespeople reach out to a prospect with no clear understanding which problems he might be dealing with.

Here’s a test: Take a moment right now to write down five key problems your prospects might be facing that your product or service could fix. How long do you think it would take? Can you do it in less than 30 seconds? Are you struggling to list five? If you want to get your prospect’s attention, you need to be an expert in his business. And that starts with knowing what he is struggling with before you even pick up that phone or send that email.

Before you engage with your customers or prospects, make sure you’ve got these three things covered:

1.    Know which problems your prospects might be struggling with.

2.    Understand the impact of those problems. What sort of pain do the problems create?

3.    Research the root of the problems, what causes them, how to address them and why they exist in the first place.

If you can do these things before you ever talk to a prospect, you’re more than half way to a sale. A prospect can have one problem or 50 problems, and the more you know about them, what causes them and how to fix them, the more in demand you will be.

So, what are your prospects’ problems?

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Jim Keenan is the founder of A Sales Guy Consulting and was named a Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencer by Top Sales World. For more information, go to asalesguy.com.