As sales people we are taught to find a need and sell to it. Needs based selling is what many of us have been taught from the early days. In almost every conversation I have with sales people on how to sell, the word “need” comes up. It’s without a doubt the most common term I hear sales people use when discussing how they sell and what sales is all about.
In almost all cases it’s explained as the “thing” a sale must be attached to. Need, is what sales people need to ferret out. Good sales people find need. The best sales people dig and search until they can find a need, then they sell to that need by telling the prospect how their product or service can fill their need. As good as it sounds, this approach is wrong and actually handicaps sales people.
Selling to a need assumes the customer has a need and more importantly, knows they have a need. The problem with this assumption is most sales opportunities are found because the prospect didn’t know they had a need. They didn’t know they needed anything. They thought things were just fine. Have you ever listened to someone sell to a need that didn’t exist? It’s painful. The customer says they don’t need the sales persons product, and the sales person flounders around looking for a need, while the customer says nope, I’m happy with my current product, yup, it does that, nope don’t need that feature, nope don’t need that, nope, don’t need that feature either. After about 5 min. if the sales person is lucky, the call is over, dejected and confused, they call the next poor soul, ready to find their need.
Here’s what’s wrong.
There is no need without a problem. Trying to find a need without finding the problem is like trying to fish without a pond. NO pond, no fish. No problem no need.
A problem is when something can’t get done, a goal is being blocked, or when there is a hinderance to reaching an objective. A problem is when something is preventing something from being achieved such as; information, knowledge, a tool, resources, insight, etc. Problems exist when things are missing. The missing things is where the needs come in.
Rather than selling to need, find the problem. Don’t ask if the client needs something. Don’t look for need but rather for a problem. Dig in to see how they are operating the business your product effects. Try to determine if they are happy with the results they’re getting. Ask if they are getting everything out of the current environment they want. Ask if they are on track to achieve their yearly goals. Ask if their competition can do things they can’t. Find out if they would like to get more out of the current environment. The key is to look for problems or even better show them they have a problem they didn’t know they had.
If you want to increase sales stop looking for a need. Start by trying to identify a problem. Once you’ve found the problem, you then can start focusing on what they NEED to solve it.
All sales starts with a problem, everything else comes after. Find or uncover the customer(s) problem and everything else will take care of itself.
This is a great real life story on how focusing on need gets a “NO!” But, finding the problem gets a “YES!”:
What I Learned From a Franklin Covey Store Clerk
Be a problem finder.