Ask most businesspeople what customers want and you'll probably hear something like "quality products, best value and great customer service." However, while those things are important, they're just vehicles for giving customers what they really crave, which is:

1. Customers want to feel important.

Customers don't want to be just a way for you to make more money. They want to know that they matter to you, even if they're not buying from you today.

2. Customers want to be appreciated.

Customers want feel that you believe it's a privilege to sell with them and that you're therefore ready to put their interests first.

3. Customers want to talk about themselves.

In selling, it's always about the customer, never about you. Focus on the customer and the customer's firm; leave yourself in the background.

4. Customers want success and happiness.

Selling is the process of making dreams come true. Customers want your hidden agenda to be helping them achieve their own goals.

5. Customers want you to truly listen.

As a general rule, 75% of a customer conversation should consist of the customer talking and you listening. Really listening. Not just waiting to talk.

6. Customers want to be understood.

Customers, like most people, sometimes struggle to communicate their challenges and opportunities. They want you to be patient, ask questions, and help clarify their thoughts.

7. Customers want to teach what they know.

Customers feel proud of what they've learned when they can teach it to others. Think of yourself as a student, always curious to learn more.

If you satisfy these basic deep desires, a customer remain loyal to you, come what may.

The above list is loosely adapted from a conversation with sales guru Jerry Acuff, author of The Relationship Edge in Business.