Asking clients about their needs is pointless. Why? Trying to address needs will take you down a slippery slope. On one hand, they are an important part of the sales process, on the other, clients aren't naïve. They won't let themselves be persuaded that they need something if they don't. And, to make it harder, they really don’t think about their needs. Often, they don’t even know what they need.

In its classic form, the sales process is based on targeting benefits to the client’s needs, resulting in the purchase of a product whose functionality, features, and specifications provide these benefits. The problem is that this approach doesn’t work because, as much as the salesperson knows the product, its features, and the benefits it provides, each client’s needs are different.

GROUP 1

If the client has a need that’s important, that’s acute, he’ll satisfy it immediately, as soon as it becomes critical - with or without your help.

Example:

If someone is hungry, they eat; if a driver is running low on petrol, they fill up the car; if the wind tears the roof off a building, the owner will immediately install a new one.

GROUP 2

If the client has a need that isn’t particularly severe (it doesn’t cause immediate problems), then he’ll satisfy it under specific circumstances.

Example:

I know that a burst pipe damaged part of the warehouse, but it doesn’t significantly affect our work or our safety, so I’ll fix it only when we do a larger renovation, or when we rent out that area.

GROUP 3

If the client has just satisfied their need (urgent or not), it’ll be difficult to get them to satisfy it again.

Example:

When someone is full, it’s difficult to get them to order more food. It’s difficult to convince a company that’s just ordered a pack of business cards to order another from a different supplier. A producer who is satisfied with their shipping company’s services won’t be interested in another shipping company’s offer.

GROUP 4

If the client doesn’t need something, whether because they don’t want it or don’t need it, they won’t buy it. That means they are not your target group. If you think otherwise, try to convince a vegan to order a steak, a freelancer to purchase a fleet monitoring system, or a bakery owner to purchase CAD software. It’s better to spend your time on other clients.

 

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