‘Need’ More Sales? You Must Find Out What Customers ‘Want’
By: Alan Buhler
Imagine the following scenario: Salesperson No. 1 is in the business of selling “A Pat on the Back” to his customers. Salesperson No. 2 is in the business of selling “A Swift Kick in the Pants.” After a hard day of selling, the two meet to discuss how they are doing.
No. 1: “Wow, what a busy day!”
No. 2: “Really, how’s business?”
No. 1: “Great! Everybody wants what I’m selling even though they say they don’t really need it. How’s business for you?”
No. 2: “Terrible.”
No. 1: “That’s hard to believe.”
No. 2: “Yeah, I can’t understand it. Everybody I know needs what I’m selling.”
People will always buy what they want, but not necessarily what they need. As consumers, we typically justify what we want (our purchases), at least in our own minds, as being something we need. As banking professionals, when selling our products or services, we are often lulled into believing that clients are buying from us because they need what we have to offer. We are trying to meet their needs instead of focusing on meeting their wants.
If people made purchase decisions based on needs, they wouldn’t be driving Porches, Hummers and Towne Cars, and Henry Ford would have been right when he said, “The customer can have any color he wants so long as it’s black.” People may buy a product category due to need; however they purchase a specific product, brand, or from a certain FI, based on wants.
In other words, needs define the total market, and wants define the market segments. For example, people buy a watch because they need to know what time it is. One person buys a Rolex because he or she wants the status and prestige associated with owning a Rolex while someone else buys a Timex because he or she wants dependability inexpensively.
It is often much easier to see the role “wants” play in purchase decisions when we’re talking about consumer products. However, when you’re dealing with commercial business opportunities, the concept is equally at play in the business-to-business environment. Decision makers in the business world are the same people who are buying based on wants in the consumer world. And no matter how logical the surface justification for need is, the factor(s) that tip the purchase scale are going to be wants.
For example, when community financial institutions implement CoreTrac’s integrated banking-specific CRM/sales tracking automation solution, RescourceOne, they may “need” to better manage their profitable clients in order to compete with the big national banks. However, what they typically “want” is a way to view all client and prospect relationships, to deliver enhanced service, share intelligence across all departments, measure and reward employees and manage opportunities using one easy-to-use technology.
If you need more revenue and want to successfully sell your products and services while shortening your overall sales cycle, identify a segment of the population who needs your product but whose wants are not being met, or are not being met well, by your competition. To do this, ask yourself these questions:
• What wants are my competitors filling?
• How can I meet a different set of wants?
• Does (or could) our products and services meet wants in the areas of speed, affordability, ease of access or use, level of service, prestige, or dependability better than my competitors?
Too often salespeople only have a rough idea of what their prospects really want. In an effort to avoid this shortcoming, when you are performing a “needs analysis,” take the time to find out what the buyer really wants. This is the emotional side of selling. Wants are emotional, and your buyers are seeking from you the logical justification to purchase what they want, which is the need.
Alan Buhler is Executive Vice President at CoreTrac, Inc. He can be reached at abuhler@CoreTrac.com or (512) 236-9120 ext. 272