Everyone is a customer at one time or another. So what are your expectations? A recent Crain's Chicago Business to Business survey found seven key customer needs that make the difference when purchasing a product or service:business signs

1. Personal Accountability. Customers are looking for a sales person to be responsible for every detail of the project, all the way to completion. Effective sales people often have a project manager to cover the ins and outs from handshake to delivery.

2. Business-Specific Acumen. An effective sales person will find out how the customer's business works - what the business plan is and who the customers are. And what the competition is doing. Thinking from the inside out helps the sales person understand the customer's needs.

3. Allegiance. Customers expect sales people to be their advocate for every aspect of their product's needs. Communication is key in determining the expected - and unexpected - barriers to getting the product or service delivered on time.

4. Applications. It used to be features and benefits, but an effective sales person knows that applications are the real key. Customers want to know how to use the product or service to achieve their goals. They are looking for the ways to effectively implement the solutions they buy.

5. Accessibility. When dealing with customers from East coast to West coast, and even around the world for that matter, it helps to be available at all times. Responding promptly to customer's requests goes a long way in building trust.

6. Problem-Solving. The closing of a sale might be the end of the sales person's relationship with the customer. However, the best sales people act as troubleshooters, with the help of their project managers. Ironing out the details and solving problems often helps cement the relationship between the customer and the sales person, which can lead to additional sales and recommendations.

7. Innovation. Because the business environment is one of change, the customer looks for a sales person that can adapt the product or service to meet the unique needs, and even discover new business opportunities.

A successful relationship between the sales person and the customer will last a long time when it includes: listening, assisting, caring, cooperating, and following-through.