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Can a “Need” be Created in a Selling Situation?

By Percy Chong, 9th December 2014

Can a salesperson create a “need” to sell his wares to the prospect?

This question has probably popped up in many salespersons’ head, quite a few times throughout his selling career. Unfortunately, there is no miracle solution or explanation to this very complex emotion called “need”!

To set the tone of right…a “need” cannot be created! We cannot create something that does not exist; and it must already be present within the prospect and it is in the uncovering process (ie. fact-finding) that it’s triggered or exposed.

Need is a manifestation of an insecurity and desire to achieve an inner balanced and overall well-being, through an external expression or implementation of both tangible and intangible solutions. The solution (ie. products/services) is the conduit that brings the sense of peace of mind and security to the consumer, thereby achieving the balanced state of mind.

This deep rooted desire is influenced by the individual’s perception, values, experience, education, race, culture, religion etc. The “need” is therefore unique to every individual. Though some individuals may have similar “needs”, the reasons or stories behind their “needs” are never the same.

Here are 2 very different approaches to uncover the prospect’s needs:

1.       Consultative approach

2.       Product approach

The Consultative Approach uncovers the prospect’s needs through questioning/fact-finding. Well designed and well placed questions that is appropriate for the prospect’s market profile, will allow for the solicitation of the prospect’s needs in the most professional and graceful manner. However, care needs to be exercise, not to approach the prospect in an obtrusive or interrogative manner.

The approach also allows for a less pressurised sales situation because no product or solution is introduced; until the prospect’s needs have been identified. The approach does not assume that a need already existed, and all sales interviews do not necessarily end with a sale. But it seeks to know the prospect first, before making any formal product recommendations.

The Product Approach is a one dimensional approach of product pushing or concept selling. Often, little or no information of the prospect is solicited; only the well defined product features and benefits, wrapped in a well rehearse presentation/concept are employed by the sales person to trigger the prospect’s interest and hopefully “fish” out a need that the prospect may have. It allows the prospect to ponder on the idea and evoke the desire for the product, if the need is present. This rudimentary approach may lack the sophistication and thoroughness of the consultative approach; but it is still effective at securing sales closes when applied correctly.

The drawback of product approach is the likely “mis-firing” of the benefits/concepts that might not be what the prospect needs. With no information about the prospect’s situation or requirements, such presentation is really a stab in the dark. And it may require more trials and attempts (of other products/concepts) to spark the prospect’s interest and expose the need.

There is also the popular belief in selling that, “prospect don’t always buy what they need, but they will buy what they want”. How does this chatter stacks up against ASG’s perspectives?

ASG is in agreement with it. Not to get stuck in the play of words, we recognised the purchase of solutions that is driven by “want”, and how it is still underpinned by the emotions of need. Ultimately, the purchase is still a satisfaction of a need.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether a sales person takes the consultative approach that is more focused on building long-term consultant-client relationship, or the product approach that is more focused on securing a quick product sale. The challenge is in the ability to uncover the prospect’s needs in order for the sale to really take place.

Article contributed by Percy Chong (through Asian Sales Guru)
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