A simple chain of consequence runs through every business: No customers > No revenue > No sustainability > No business

Without customers (not just leads on a list or followers on social media, but actual customers who buy from you), you can't make your business sustainable enough to survive.

And if you're serious about growing your business, figuring out how to get more customers--more sales--is your top priority.

How do you get more people to buy from you?

The late Gary Halbert, a great direct mail copywriter, used to ask his copywriting students, "If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?"

Students usually answered "the best location," "being able to offer the lowest price," or "having the best-tasting burger."

But Halbert would say only one advantage mattered and whoever had it would out-sell everybody else: a starving crowd!

Don't Sell Sand in the Desert

The most basic way to sell more is to sell what people want in the first place.

When you align your offer with your customer's desire, you create the perfect match that has people reaching for their wallets before you've even finished explaining your offer!

And no matter what your product, there will be multiple types of customers who might benefit from it. But the best path to effortless sales is to identify the one segment of your potential market that's ideally suited to the product or service you're selling.

Why? Because the more you focus on your ideal customer, the more relevant your offer will be to them--which makes the buying decision easier for them and makes sales much easier for you.

But it goes beyond that.

How to Sell More in a Crowded Marketplace

After identifying the best customers for your offer, you need two more things:

1. The most valuable way they can use your offer

You might think you already know all the possible applications of your product or service; after all, you created it! But your customers may surprise you by discovering new uses, so keep an open mind and identify the most valuable way for your best customer to use what you offer.

The more valuable the use you suggest to your customers, the easier it is for them to decide to buy.

2. The most compelling reason for them to buy your offer

Look below the surface for the most compelling reason for your ideal customer to want your offer. Human nature is more powerful than any artificially imposed persuasion. So, find out the one reason that motivates them so powerfully they're almost guaranteed to want what you're selling.

The more compelling the reason you focus on in your offer, the easier your customers can decide they want to buy.

Be Their Best Friend

It's on you to get to know your ideal customers as well and as deeply as possible.

You can do this in many ways, depending on what resources you have. You can conduct our own market research, use big data, or gather small data.

It's easiest to begin with the internet. Find out which websites your ideal customers visit all the time. This is how you can get your top competitor's website to work for you.

Spend time on the site and reverse-engineer the strategy behind it. Find the most popular posts and other high-performing content. What's it about? What's it speaking to? What's resonating?

Extrapolate from the content and activity on the site. Look at how people engage and what they engage with. Read the comments.

Armed with all that, paint a picture of who spends time on this site. Use a customer profile template to determine what you still need to discover about your ideal buyer.

Based on what I discover about my ideal buyers, I might decide to sell hamburgers to a hungry, weight-conscious crowd, and emphasize how my burgers are low-carb, so they can eat as much as they want and not gain weight.

Make it easy for your customer to want your offer, and you'll also make it easy for you to sell--so easy, you might not realize you're in a sales conversation until your customer says, "Great! Where do I pay?"

Published on: Oct 3, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.