We did a simple exercise at the recent Evergreen Summit. Participants were asked to spend two minutes writing everything they knew about their favorite TV characters.

For two minutes, heads were down as people crafted extremely detailed descriptions of Walter White from Breaking Bad, Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm, Charlie from Two and a Half Men, and others.

Next, I had them do the same exercise, but they were asked to describe their ideal client.

Within ten seconds, one of the guests shouted out “Okay Noah, point taken!

There were chuckles throughout the room, but it was instantly apparent it was far more difficult to describe our current and prospective clients than it was to describe a fictional TV character.

Now, of course, most of us have many different customers and types of customers. There isn’t a one-size fits all description.

However, most companies also think they understand their customers well enough to understand their buying motives and what makes them tick, but if you pressed them on this, as I did, you’d learn that most only understand them on a surface level.

They say things like, our customers want quality products, value for their money, and incredible service, etc.

But every buyer wants these things, I know I do. If we want to leverage our sales and marketing efforts then we need to dig deeper and dig down to the roots of what truly makes people buy. Or more importantly, what makes them buy again, and again, and again.

A few weeks back I got to spend a couple of days with the world-renowned thought leader on the topic of influence and persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini. If you haven’t read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, buy it now, it’s one of the most important sales and marketing books ever published.

As much as I love this book, and while there is a proven science behind the psychology of persuasion, I don’t believe there is a one-size fits all approach when it comes to persuading and influencing our customers.

In fact, my belief is that the better you truly understand your own customers, even on a customer by customer basis, the more important this is than any other element of your sales and marketing success.

A great marketer can usually produce satisfactory results in any market, and a successful company with a long history can also do pretty well, even if they don’t understand the deeper, more personal buying motives of their customers.

But my most successful clients know their customers remarkably well. I give you specific steps to accomplish this in Chapter 6 of Evergreen.

Even more important to this example is the 90-45 rule (found here). In this case, it’s crucial you know the top 10% of your clients inside and out.

Today’s Key Challenge: Try the exercise I mentioned above. Try it with your sales team. Try it with your marketing team.

If they can describe a day in the life of Walter White better than they can describe your top customers, then that should tell you a lot. There’s more work to be done, and better results just around the corner.