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Does Your Customer Have A Need To Buy?

by David Brock on August 19th, 2009

An old colleague of mine had a great way of looking at things.  He and I would meet with thousands of sales people every year.  He woul soften comment:  “The one thing common with every sales person we meet is their overwhelming need to sell.”

With little provocation, they would launch into their pitches.  They would enthusiastically talk about the latest greatest features of their products, how great their companies were, and how superior their offerings were when compared to competition.  Virtually everyone we met was very compelling.

However strong their need to sell was, it made no difference until they found a customer with a compelling need to buy.  If your customer doesn’t have a need to buy, you will never be successful in selling them–you will be wasting your time and, more importantly, their time.

I occasionally go into rants in this blog, usually it’s about a sales person who has a strong need to sell, but they are imposing themselves on me, wasting my time—never taking the time to find out if I had a need to buy.  I write about the importance of asking customers questions and the “discovery” process.  I’ve written about vicious disqualification.  Part of what these do is help determine if your customer has a need to buy.

Spend your time and that of your customers well.  Regardless how strong your need to sell is, if your customer doesn’t have a compelling need to buy, go someplace else.  They’ll thank you and you will be more productive.Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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  1. Bob Ennamorato permalink

    From my experience, a sales persons biggest competitor is usually not a supplier of a similar product. It is the inertia of prospects. Prospects rarely say early in the sales cycle “I just flat out prefer Brand X to yours”. It is more often, “No thanks, I don’t need any. I am happy with what I am using”. More often than not their “happiness” stems from their current source “satisfying their needs”. It is not because they don’t have a “need” for something new ,it is usually because they have a very narrow view of what their “needs” really are.

    As I have said in prior comments here, our company sold safety equipment. When we first called on a prospect, they didn’t “need” a welding helmet or hard hat, they were already using those products to comply with OSHA regulations. So we engaged them in reexamining their “needs”. We questioned them about the “need” to reduce injury costs, lower workers comp premiums, increase productivity, reduce downtime, improve the quality of work life and increase profitability.

    Everything we brought up the prospect agreed, “well yeah, of course we need to do that” By saying “yes” to our needs questions, prospects began to see that maybe all of their “needs” were not being met and gave them a reason to continue with the sales cycle. Our selling job then became differentiating our products from what they were using and linking the value of those differences to the expanded “needs” we help the prospect recognize.

    So instead of walking away from a prospect who doesn’t appear to have a “need” for a product, perhaps it is worthwhile to help them see that they do have a need to increase profit and they can only do that by overcoming their inertia and seeing what else is available.

    • Good point Bob. Sometimes the role of the sales person is to help their customers to discover opportunities to do things differently and to grow. That will drive the need to buy.

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