Don’t Sell Needs, Give Them What They WANT


Do you,

* drive a 1995 Taurus,

* live in a pop-up trailer at a campground,

* wear clothes purchased exclusively from thrift stores, and,

* eat only Ramen noodles?

Didn’t think so.

When you have a few extra fun bucks (or room on your credit card) do you run down to Wal-Mart and stock up on hand soap, toothbrushes, or laundry detergent maybe?Of course not.

And you’re like everyone else, including your prospects and customers. Which means that you just don’t buy what you need to survive. You buy what you want. (I don’t think most of the 3 million people who bought the new iPad over the weekend really needed it desperately.)

And an even stronger motivator is taking action based on what you value.

I’ve long taught that the best way to sell is to understand what motivates buyers, then help them experience those feelings in advance. This creates the desire to take action.

Struggling reps, on the other hand, approach calls with the intention of spraying their message out there, hoping they’ll hit upon someone who will buy.

And when resistance occurs, they fire back with objection rebuttals, which I call “Objection Headbuttals,” because it’s like butting your head against a brick wall when you use them.

You’ve probably experienced the frustration of selling just to needs. Think about the prospect you proved you could help save a bazillion dollars a year, increase market share by 75%, decrease turnover to virtually zero, and eliminate customer complaints, but still didn’t buy. You sulked around, shaking your head in disbelief, emitting primal-like noises in frustration, muttering,

“What an ignoramus this person is! I can’t understand why he’s not buying.”

Probably because you talked about your reasons for buying, not his.


Wants-Based Questioning
After you’ve generated interest with your opening, asked your basic questions, and built rapport, you need to get into the real reasons they buy.

Their wants.

Use questions such as,
“What, ideally, do you want the end result to be?”

“How would you measure satisfaction after you’ve used it?”

“If you could design the ideal product, what would it include?”

“If budget were not a concern, what would you get?”


Values-Based Questioning
What do your prospects and customers value?

What do you value?
Delve into someone’s values, their core beliefs, and you’ll know what really drives them.

Money isn’t everything, and I enjoy it as much or more than the next guy, and often joke that it ranks right up there with food and oxygen as a priority. But over the years I have turned down many training projects because of many reasons…when my kids were at home some of the dates conflicted with my kids’ sporting events, a remote location would have required too much time in little planes and rental cars, I didn’t think I’d have fun doing the project, and other reasons.

I need money. I want money. But what I really value, and all the feelings that go with it drives my decisions and behaviors. Values override needs and wants, for you, me, and your prospects and customers.

Once you’ve reached the comfort level with a prospect/customer where rapport and trust have been built, it’s appropriate to ask questions that examine their innermost core beliefs, their values. For example,

“What’s most important to you about this project?”

“What will getting this project done the way you want it mean to you?”

Then, listen for the answers, and layer more questions to gain further insight. For example, if they say, “Well, it’ll mean I’ll come in under budget,” dig deeper:

“And what’s important to you about that?”

Again, for questions like these to work, the rapport must be there. I chide sales reps constantly for asking–too early in an initial sales call– “So what’s important to you in a bathroom cleaning supplies vendor?”

It typically gets a “Whaddya nuts or somethin?”-type answer, and deservedly so. It forces the prospect to think too much. As if the prospect places his bathroom cleaning supplies at the top of the things he lusts for daily. But, after the rapport is there, it’s not so awkward to ask,

“Bruno, I know this is just one of the many responsibilities you have, but I want to make sure I’m giving you the best recommendation possible. So tell me, what’s most important to you about the maintenance of your facilities?”


Make it a goal to question for, and to understand the wants and values of your buyers. You’ll build more trust, and have longer lasting customer relationships.

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